Within minutes, the traffic of Ho Chi Minh City gives way to coconut palms and banana trees. It’s just the beginning of the green season, and the rice fields are brown and bare, the earth freshly tilled in preparation for the new crop. The endless stretches of green are broken up by the occasional graveyard, large family tombstones, some gleaming white, others in pretty pastel hues.
The automobile-only expressway sometimes passes through small towns, with their streetside commerce: stacks of fruit, bottles of gasoline and handy hammocks strung up between palm trees for weary motorists.
Today, we’re heading deep into the Mekong Delta, one of the most authentic and under-explored destinations in all of Southeast Asia, including Can Tho with its scenic bridge, photogenic floating markets and quaint cottage industries; Chau Doc, just steps away from the Cambodian border, and its eclectic mix of religions and cultures; and Sam Mountain, home to some of Vietnam’s holiest temples set on a hill commanding postcard pretty views over the rice paddies below.
All of this is just hours away from Ho Chi Minh City and accessible via the Victoria Mekong Coach, a premier transport service exclusively for guests of Victoria Hotels & Resorts.
Today, we board the bus in Saigon, heading first to the Victoria Can Tho Resort for a few nights to cruise the Cai Rang Floating Market over breakfast and bicycle into the winding backroads along the network of rivers and canals that surround Can Tho.
We hear it’s just about four hours to Can Tho so we prepare ourselves for a monotonous bus ride. But when we actually board the coach, we’re pleasantly surprised to see how spacious and new it is.
The Victoria Coach is a refitted 29-seater bus, pared down to just 11 leather-bound passenger seats. Our hostess, Yen, makes sure we’re comfortable while our luggage is loaded into the rear compartment of the coach.
There are individual tablets at each seat and the complimentary wi-fi allows us to get a bit of overdue emailing done and to watch our favorite shows.
The coach has a fridge on board and soon beverages and snacks make the rounds. We certainly weren’t expecting a first-class experience, but that’s exactly what we’re getting.
With no train service between Saigon and the Mekong Delta, the only options for travelers are private buses, passenger cars or slow boats. (There is an airport in Can Tho but with very limited flight service and no flights to / from Saigon.)
Since its launch in 2015, the Victoria Mekong Coach is the only upscale transport service traveling from Saigon – Can Tho – Chau Doc – Nui Sam and back daily.
With seats in permanent recline, we tuck ourselves in to watch the Vietnamese countryside go by, interspersed with small towns along the way.
There are no bathrooms on board, so the coach makes a quick restroom stop every two hours or so at quaint cafes with clean facilities.
Before we know it, we find ourselves on the pretty 2.75km long cable-stayed Can Tho Bridge. Yen collects our passports for a convenient pre-registration, meaning we can be whisked directly to our rooms upon arrival.
Soon enough, we’re greeted by the sight of the lovely Victoria Can Tho Resort, our stately home for the next few days as we explore Vietnam’s beautiful Mekong Delta.
If you go:
The Victoria Mekong Coach departs daily from Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Chau Doc and Nui Sam, linking with Victoria Cruises for guests who want to discover the magic of the Delta from the river.
The trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Chau Doc / Nui Sam includes a 4-hour layover at Victoria Can Tho where Mekong Coach guests have complimentary access to the lovely swimming pool, a wonderfully relaxing spot to while away a few hours.
Another option is the “Journey to the Delta”, a full-day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Victoria Chau Doc / Victoria Nui Sam, combining transfer by Victoria Mekong Coach with a 5-hour river cruise and excursions ashore.
Coach facilities include: Comfortable leather seats equipped with headrest, safety belts, individual Android tablets and headphones, large luggage compartment, complimentary wi-fi, baby seat (on request), English-speaking host, cold drinks service on board, onboard check-in for Victoria Hotels
For more, visit http://www.victoriahotels.asia/en/victoria-coach/overview-coach or email: [email protected]