Flying to Phu Quoc Island is cheap and easy, but if you want a real adventure, riding there by motorbike from Saigon is much more fun. This road trip takes you from Vietnam’s biggest city to some its best beaches, via the waterways, highways, and back-roads of the country’s rice basket, the Mekong Delta.
Rach Gia is a big, busy, and thriving Mekong Delta city. There’s a real buzz about this place, which might come as a shock after a few lazy days on Phu Quoc Island. The fast boats from Phu Quoc dock at the ferry pier at the end of Nguyen Cong Tru Street. Ride off the ferry and into the controlled chaos of Rach Gia’s busy streets. There are plenty of cheap, bog-standard guest houses near the port on Nguyen Cong Tru Street. There’s lots of street food around town (try the Chinese-style roast duck and pork stalls near the square) or you can head to the new oceanfront road and park for a whole string of smart cafes and BBQ seafood restaurants.Leave Rach Gia heading south along the wide, new, ocean boulevard, called Ton Duc Thang Street.
After turning left (due east) onto Phan Thi Rang Street, the road passes through miles of brand new, generic housing. Bear right (due south) onto Nguyen Trung Truc Street, leading through the uninspiring town of Rach Soi before it turns into Highway QL61. Look out for a few splendid-looking Khmer temples lining the newly laid, perfectly straight road towards Vi Thanh.
Vi Thanh – Can Tho
Unfortunately, after taking a sharp left, Highway QL61 turns into a potholed gravel pit for several kilometres before reaching Vi Thanh. The latter is a decent place to break the journey with a coffee and snack along the canalside road, before rejoining the highway (now called QL61B) for the easy ride northeast through glowing rice fields to Can Tho. Can Tho, the largest city in the Delta. Bypass the city completely by bearing right onto Highway QL1A and taking the bridge – an impressive engineering feat – over the Lower Mekong River.
Lower Mekong River
Continue on horrible Highway QL1A for a mercifully short ride to Vinh Long, where you can skirt around the edge of town using highways QL53 and QL57 to the Dinh Khao ferry crossing. On the other side of the river, Road QL57 continues east across what is essentially a large island in the Mekong River. It’s a short, lush and easy ride. After 15km turn left (due north) on Road DT883 to yet another ferry crossing.
The Tan Phu ferry rejoins Road DT883 on the other side of the river, leading eastwards through a beautiful, green landscape of fruit orchards. Road DT883 eventually hits Highway QL60. Turn left (due north) and cross the Mekong River, for the last time, via the Rach Mieu Bridge. Turn right (due east) immediately after the bridge and take Road DT864 through the busy city of My Tho. If you’re hungry, look out for signs saying ‘hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho’, a noodle soup that this town is famous for. My Tho’s riverfront has some appeal, but compared to the river towns you’ve already seen on this road trip it’s not that interesting. Cross the bridge on Dinh Bo Linh Street going east out of town, until the road becomes Highway QL50 towards Go Cong.
Highway QL50 east to Go Cong is in excellent shape. From here the highway turns north, towards the My Loi Bridge over the Vam Co Dong River. At the top of the bridge (yet another impressive piece of new infrastructure), take one last look at the lush, watery landscape that you’ve become accustomed to on this road trip. Grit your teeth and continue north across the Nguyen Van Linh ring road, following QL50 until it ends at the Vo Van Kiet Expressway, which is where you started.
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