Travelling the Mekong River: The Canals of Thủ Thừa, Vietnam

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Immediately outside of Ho Chi Minh City likes the Mekong River, the world’s tenth longest river and a major trade route in South East Asia. After travelling up the Mekong River, we spent a little time exploring Thủ Thừa- a peaceful part of Vietnam where we got a glimpse at traditional rural Vietnam life.


This post is one chapter on our third Round the World trip via South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, the Maldives and India. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport (World of Hyatt) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Travelling The Mekong River; the Canals of Thủ Thừa, Vietnam

“Our afternoon exploring canals and the Mekong River led us to quiet corners of Vietnam”

This post is a two part post within our trip through the Mekong River in Vietnam. Our last post deals with our experience getting up river. Please see here for our experience in the canals of Thủ Thừa and our visit to the cities within the area.


The first part of our day was travelling up the Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh City. We had spent the morning travelling up stream, appreciating river life. After visiting the local market, we headed up stream into the canals of Thủ Thừa for a quieter look at life off the Mekong River.

The Canals of Thủ Thừa:

Upstream, we ventured into the Thủ Thừa area of the Mekong along one of the adjacent canals. This part of the trip was a good experience to see the local life and communities of farmers. There were no real streets, a few motorcycle paths and trails and quiet serenity all around.

Canal Bridges
Canal Bridges in Thủ Thừa
Bridges Set Amongst Local Vegetation
Bikes are the local transport of choice

We went for a group walk to visit a “rich” farmer. He was “rich” since he had a house and several chickens and ducks. He also happened to own a Burmese python. It is not every day you get to see a python, let alone one that plays with children. Although this seems to be a typical scenario in Vietnam, it’s still mind boggling for us Westerners to see children playing with Pythons.

Burmese “Family” Python

Apparently, if you’re caught getting constricted, you need to break off the tail of the snake since it’s the most sensitive area of the animal. James Bond and spy superstar fans can tuck that piece of knowledge away until they find themselves in a similar situation. (It hasn’t happened to me since I’ve learned this information).

Burmese Pythons out for a stretch

Land and houses are passed from generation to generation so it’s conceivable that you can have several generations of family living in one house.

A Mekong Whiskey Tasting:

We traveled up stream for a Mekong whisky tasting. I was one of two that were brave enough to try. It was actually quite a lot like Japanese Sake. This was set in a spartan “bar” that was nestled in a farming area of tapioca trees. 

A Mekong Whisky Tasting Bar
Local Landscapes

We traveled upstream to the next village. It was a traditional village that was back in time. It reminded me of travel to the rural areas of Myanmar that we had visited a few years ago; sparse, local and absent of any western tourists.

Local Villages with Local Bridges
Local City Markets
Relic Bridges made to work
Local life without cars
Ancient Signs aged by the weather

We had lunch at a nearby orphanage. We got to sample some Elephant Ear fish. The fish seemed to have nothing to do with elephants, but as a white fish, it was quite tasty. 

Elephant White Fish

Our Return Trip:

After the late lunch, we started on the return trek back. We saw more river home sights on the way. 

City Sounds

It’s still interesting to see the sights on the way back. All the river side structures are interesting enough to keep you engaged on the ride back down the river.

Riverside Shacks
A Two Boat Garage
Stilts and Clothes Hung to Dry
Last Minutes on the Mekong

My thoughts on of Life on the Mekong River:

The trip was an interesting insight into the Mekong Delta life. Our tour with Les Rives was a lot more like guided transport to each area than an actual explained tour. Nevertheless, it was a nice break from noise, skyscrapers and broken sidewalks as a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. We also had the opportunity to check out some of the more rural areas of Thủ Thừa; somewhere we would have never have visited otherwise.


If you’ve traveled into rural Vietnam, what was your adventure like?

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