The Mekong Delta vibrates with colour - shimmering fields of bright green rice stalks, fanned-out yellow and electric-pink incense sticks drying along roadsides, and lunchtime traffic jams of white-and-blue-clad schoolkids on bikes.
So, too, the rhythm of life along Mekong byways buzzes with slow but constant energy. A trip into the nation's 'rice basket' is a glimpse into the life of Vietnam's agricultural workforce, whose daily toil on this life-sustaining river delta feeds the nation. The Mekong Delta - with the nurturing of its busy inhabitants - produces enough rice to feed the entire country, with a sizable surplus.
The delta was formed by sediment deposited by the Mekong River, a process which continues today; silt deposits extend the delta's shoreline at the mouth of the river by as much as 79m per year. The river itself is so massive that it has two daily tides. Lush with rice paddies and fish farms, this rich delta plain also nourishes the cultivation of sugarcane, fruit, coconut and shrimp. Although the area is primarily rural, it is one of the most densely populated regions and nearly every hectare is intensively farmed.
Travellers to the Mekong can join the languorous clamour by boating into the crush of floating markets or visiting local fruit orchards and fish farms. Those wishing to get away from the hustle and bustle can travel to towns on the eastern edge of the delta, which is notable for having the highest proportion of Khmers in the population despite being the furthest provinces from Cambodia. Tra Vinh and Soc Trang, two such towns, are home to several beautiful Khmer pagodas and are not often visited by foreigners.
For an even more remote experience, head to the western jumping-off point of Rach Gia and catch a boat to peaceful Phu Quoc Island. There is still little commercialisation happening on Phu Quoc, and among the attractions are uncrowded dive sites, deserted beaches and cool freshwater springs.