Part 1: HCMC – Ben Tre via Go Cong

Length of the section: 140 km

Highlights: Rice fields, My Loi Bridge, Phu Duong Island

For the first part of the Mekong Delta Border Loop, you have two options. Take a direct route from HCMC to Ben Tre via My Tho. Personally, I didn’t want to do this because a) you will follow some busy roads and b) I always prefer smaller rural roads. So, if you are in no rush take the longer, but more scenic route via Go Cong south of HCMC.

Either way, the start is the least pleasant and maybe most stressful part of the journey – getting out of HCMC.  Leave as early as possible to avoid rush hour, which on occasion can be a challenge. I left just after 7am and it was OK, but the earlier you leave the better.

There are different ways to head to the Mekong Delta. I would recommend is heading towards District 7 via D1 or D3, D10, D8 and then get onto the main dual carriageway in D7 – Nguyen Van Linh – and travel west. This road is not too bad as motorbikes have their own lane. It is actually a pleasant ride until you can turn left onto QL1A.

If you travel via Go Cong you only have to stay on the QL1A for short while, as you should turn right onto Dinh Duc Thien.


Entering the Mekong Delta

For me this is the start of the Mekong Delta trip. While passing factories and a brand-new town, you will also spot the first rice fields, churches and lots of trees. On occasions you cross small bridges with nice views. Don’t be surprised when locals wave or shouting “Hello” and “Xin Chao” while passing you.

After a while the road merges with the QL50 with the real first highlight. The impressive My Loi Bridge, leading over the first big arm of the Mekong. From here you have an amazing view over the surrounding area. If the traffic is not busy you might be able to stop to take a photo or enjoy the view. As usual though – safety first.

Shortly after My Loi bridge you reach Go Cong. I did not explore the city, but it is a good place for a wee break or even breakfast, with plenty of food places.

From Go Cong you can head to Ben Tre via the QL50. Or you can do a detour crossing some of the many islands. I could not get confirmation about ferries going to Phu Duong island. I can now confirm there are.

From Go Cong take the DT862 southbound and turn onto HL4. Both roads are in good condition and offer the view expected from the Mekong Delta. Green and golden rice paddies, little streams, plantations. And hardly any traffic. You will also see some little bridges that are used as a floodgate to control the water level. At the end of HL4 you will arrive at the ferry point to get to Phu Duong island.

On Google Map there is another ferry point shown east of HL4. The road to get there is bumpy, but offers nice scenery. Unfortunately, there is no longer a ferry from there.

Exploring Phu Duon Island

It is only a short crossing, but I must admit, I love taking ferries here. One reason is you get a wee break. And secondly you might meet interesting people who want to talk to you.

After 10 minutes you will arrive on Thanh Phu Dong. This is a seemingly bigger island and seeing the reaction of the locals not a popular destination for foreigners. It is a beautiful and peaceful place with lots of rice fields, plantations, streams and quite a few houses using the leaves from trees to cover the roof.

It is worthwhile to explore the island before heading to the ferry south of the island. And it is certainly worth the detour. To get to the ferry just follow the road until you reach the main road of the island DT16. Turn left and follow it until you are near the eastern end of the island. In a small village there is a cafe at the corner of a crossing. Turn right onto the dirt road and it will lead you to the ferry.

More little islands & Ben Tre

The ferry leaving the pier will bring you across another arm of the Mekong. When you reach the mainland, you can follow the road along the river until you can turn onto the QL60. This will bring you to Ben Tre.

If you rather want to continue exploring the side roads turn left to the main road. Ride through the town and after a short while turn right onto Nguyen Dinh Chieu and follow the road. The road condition is not very good until you have crossed HL40. But it is certainly an interesting ride.  It is then back to a nice road that continues to pass  villages, rice paddies and other normal sights for the Delta. You will also continue the island hopping, though this time the little island was connected by 2 bridges.

After turning onto the HL10, just follow the road until you reach Ben Tre. The advantage of this road is you stay away from the main roads (with lack of lorries) while you pass some beautiful areas. At one point there is a longer stretch of road with trees on both sides, providing welcomed shade. it is a very relaxing ride until you arrive at the riverfront of Ben Tre.

Ben Tre is one of the larger towns in the area, and quite popular for tourists (not as Can Tho). I did not find it overly touristy, and it is a slightly relaxed feel. It is certainly a nice place for a first stop. Here are some details about Ben Tre.

Overview Mekong Delta Border Loop

HCMC – Ben Tre

Ben Tre  – Can Tho

Can Tho – Tri Ton

Tri Ton – Chau Doc

Chau Doc – HCMC