Homestay accommodation, rowing, bare-handed fishing, local music shows, and rice pancake workshops, they can all be found in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam.
Locals in the region have been taking tourists on boat trips to artisanal villages and fruit plantations.
The appeal lies in seeing how local residents make their own popcorn, which can be made from corn or rice, coconut candies and pancakes.
Visitors can enjoy local music over a warm cup of jasmine tea, freshly made confectionery or fruits picked from the farm.
These experiences sum up the essence of 'Miet mien Tay,' a reference to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
When catching fish with their bare hands, tourists wear traditional brown overalls and bask themselves in the muddy water in a way similar to how people did it in the old days, watching intensely for fish in the murky water.
"As kids, we would be thrilled to catch a tiny fish the size of three fingers,” one visitor said. “Here the fish are much bigger. We caught one that was almost a kilogram.
“We thought it was dead as it didn't move, but all of a sudden it jumped out of my hands, splashing mud all over us and then making its way through the muddy water.
“We laughed our heads off!"
|Children catch fish in the mud in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Thuy Huong|
The Minh River Island in Vinh Long Province, which was mostly unoccupied a few years back, now offers several homestay package tours.
Your correspondent stayed in a home located on a large plot of land, with a historical three-roomed wooden house in the middle surrounded by colorful flowers.
Low papaya trees with ripening fruits lined the canals encircling the location.
Behind the historical home lies a bridge across a large fish pond, leading to a series of huts.
These were built from distinctly red bricks, both plain and unpainted.
At the front, each room had a brick balcony roof hanging over a wooden window.
Inside, solid wood boards were used as beds covered in coarse grey cloth and cushions.
The toilets were well equipped, and there was even an open-air bathroom for nature lovers.
Stretching one's back on the wood bed and eyeing the simple design of the rural home, there was a feeling of tranquility present.
Inside the extensive kitchen area, caterers dressed in traditional costumes chattered cheerfully, creating the sound of a countryside wedding reception.
The owner of the homestay is a woman from Ben Tre Province, most famous for coconuts in the Mekong Delta.
|A kind of pancake is cooked in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Thuy Huong|
After graduating from Can Tho University, she married and settled in Vinh Long.
After several years working for a travel agent, she decided to establish her own business.
It is an admirable feat when one considers the employment opportunities she has created for others in an area that is otherwise remote and undeveloped.
The neighborhood is quiet, but according to the homestay owner, Westerners drop in quite frequently.
In fact, eco-tourism operators allow them to observe artisanal villages, fruit plantations and hay barns, among many other sites in the area.
The 'Miet' vibes in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta never fail to deliver unforgettable memories.
Domestic travelers treasure the chance for their children to learn traditional values: to tell the differences between hay and grass, broken rice from normal rice, or learn how to make a rice pancake themselves.
In the late afternoon, tourists can cycle around the small village pathways past cottages dotted amongst the plantations.
Stunning scenery abounds along the way: the golden flower fields, lush bamboo and rambutan farms.
The dense foliage might block the sunlight in one spot, but make a turn and it is all sunshine again, as rays penetrate the leaves.
|A rice field in the Mekong Delta. Photo: Do Trong Danh|
Bridges are also the norm here – there is one every few hundred meters or so. They cross canals, streams and rivers, with local rowboats and tourist ships passing underneath.
Under the moonlight
As it gets dark, families gather for dinner in their front yards, with chickens, ducks and dogs often wandering about.
The smoke from old wooden stoves is no longer around at this hour, and the sound of karaoke singing begins to echo from afar.
While the villages are now touched by modernity, overall their serenity prevails.
As night falls, youngsters and adults gather to make rice pancakes with vegetables and shrimps.
After this delight comes homemade music shows in their very own front yards.
Under the bright moonlight, hosts, guests, and so-called 'singers' take turns to sing.
A sense of coziness fills the air, bringing a touch of romance to the moonlit scene.
Upon leaving the Minh River Island, your correspondent was taken back to Vinh Long City, the capital of Vinh Long Province, on a motorboat.
En route, familiar melodies filled the air, touching the hearts of everyone listening.
A nostalgic feeling surged from within:
"He who travels far and wide,
will always ache to think of his hometown..."
|Come to the Mekong Delta and enjoy special kind of music! Photo: Le Thai Duong|