It's unavoidable. If you plan on spending any time on the Mekong Delta, you're going to be taking a boat trip. Who visits the Mekong and doesn't take a boat trip? And it's just as unavoidable that, unless you're willing to invest a lot of money, your trip will be pretty touristy. But that doesn't mean it can't also be fun.
For our initial excursion to the Mekong Delta, we choose to stay on An Binh, an island between the towns of Vinh Long and Cai Be. We spent the first day of our trip biking around the island, and photographing its postcard-worthy images of life on the delta.
During the Vietnam War (fine: the "War of American Aggression"), the Viet Cong were hopelessly outmatched from a military standpoint. So, they had to level the playing field... or even better, dig tunnels and hide underneath the playing field. We went to Cu Chi to visit one of the most famous underground systems.
Our first excursion outside of Saigon was to the nearby city of Tây Ninh. We would be testing the waters of "travel in Vietnam" with this simple two-day, one-night trip, during which we'd visit the Holy See of Cao Đài and the tunnels of Củ Chi. Our first order of business, though, was a trip to Núi Bà Đen, or Black Virgin Mountain.
Saigon is a city of crazy traffic, constant noise and unbroken swaths of concrete. But there exists a section of the city which is totally different. We spent the day walking around Phường 28: an island that has been almost completely overlooked by Saigon's insatiable appetite for urbanization.