Mekong tourists get back to nature
Eco-tourism, especially in the form of tours that offer visitors the chance to stay overnight in local residents' homes, has been attracting more and more foreign tourists to the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long.
According to figures from the Vinh Long Department of Trade and Tourism, the province received 250,000 visitors in 2005, including 85,000 foreign tourists - 30,000 of which chose a homestay.
Located between the Tien and Hau rivers, the fertile soil of Vinh Long nourishes thousands of orchards. The fruit gardens and numerous islets in these rivers have created favourable conditions for the development of eco-tourism.
Vinh Long Trade and Tourism Department deputy director Nguyen Khac Nhu said that the province's tourism could be divided into three categories.
Tours of the Tien River, which cover an area from the My Thuan Bridge to Cai Be Floating Market, take in some 30 sites. Hau River tours start in Binh Minh District and float all the way to the city of Can Tho, taking tourists to Khmer pagodas, traditional craft villages, and orchards producing fruits like oversized pomelos. Mang Thit River excursions bring visitors to floating markets as well as craft villages.
Nhu said visitors could also observe centuries-old activities of the rural South, such asprocessing rice paper, traditional cooking, and craft making.
Ly Hoang Canh, an experienced tour operator in Vinh Long, said that many foreign tourists enjoyed watching local residents engage in their daily activities.
Some of the visitors' other favourite pursuits include working in the rice fields, netting fish, picking fruit, swimming in rivers, riding bicycles and simply resting in hammocks.
Nhu said that Vinh Long Tourist Company's 35 boats were running at full capacity.
There are 12 private homes in Vinh Long offering homestays, which together can provide accommodation and entertainment for up to 150 tourists per night.
One homestay proprietor, Tran Van Huong, said he had an orchard, bonsai garden, and a fishpond on the premises. "Visitors can even cook their own fish," said Huong, whose 12 reasonably priced rooms are always booked.
(Source: Viet Nam News)
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