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In the Mekong Delta there is a pagoda dedicated to the fruit bat, a bizarre temple complex built by a mad monk who lived on coconuts, crab eating monkeys, bee eating birds, a stinking melon called the “king of fruits,” cobras and crocodiles raised on farms and featured on menus, and a mixing and melding of cultures and religions not seen anywhere else in the country. And it all starts 2,800 miles away on the Tibetan high plateau. The “Nine Dragons,” as the delta is known, is the nation's single most important agricultural zone. It produces the greatest part of the country's rice and tropical fruit, as well as aquaculture, bricks, "nuoc mam" ...

In the Mekong Delta there is a pagoda dedicated to the fruit bat, a bizarre temple complex built by a mad monk who lived on coconuts, crab eating monkeys, bee eating birds, a stinking melon called the “king of fruits,” cobras and crocodiles raised on farms and featured on menus, and a mixing and melding of cultures and religions not seen anywhere else in the country. And it all starts 2,800 miles away on the Tibetan high plateau. The “Nine Dragons,” as the delta is known, is the nation's single most important agricultural zone. It produces the greatest part of the country's rice and tropical fruit, as well as aquaculture, bricks, "nuoc mam" and coconut candy. The river's silt is so rich it can be harvested and sold as potting soil and fertilizer. House boats lashed together make up floating villages, serviced by fleets of boats that constitute floating markets, such as at Cai Rang. The religious and ethnic diversity of the delta has resulted in a dizzying variety of temples, mosques, pagodas and churches. Sam Mountain, at Chau Doc on the Cambodian border, has the greatest concentration of sacred sites and structures anywhere in the country. And it's only a few hours by fast boat from Saigon. My Tho, with its magnificent Vinh Trang Pagoda, is only an hour away by bus. And the bustling town of Can Tho is a wonderful week-end getaway from the big city.

Richard Sterling
About the Expert

Richard Sterling is the author of Lonely Planet's World Food: Greece, Eyewitness Travel Guide Vietnam, and many other books.

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Richard Sterling for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Mekong Delta is located in southwestern Vietnam
  • Language: Vietnamese
  • Currency: Vietnam Dong
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
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