I've been looking up Mekong Delta tours (2 days 1 night), but seem to be getting huge cost variation e.g. Hanspan charging US132, but Sinhcafevn is charging US18!!!! Ok, the latter doesn't include food, but still a huge difference.
Has anyone been on either of these trips? If so, I would be grateful if you share your experience with me i.e. is the US18 trip a complete waste of time or extremly good value?
Thanks in advance
a lot of the cost depends on what you want to do. I did one last August with Ann's Tours for about $120 and it was great! For 120 you get a private air conditioned car, driver, guide, a few boat where you have the boat to yourself tours and a nice hotel in Canto, as well as all but one of your meals. You can also request some customization of your tour (we hiked through parts of the Mekong where the children had never seen people with white skin and burst into tears at the sight of us, had dinner with a local orchard owner, shared local brandy with a friend of the guide on one of the islands 40 minutes down river from Canto and generally experienced a lot more of the real Mekong away from the mobs). We took everything at our own pace and never got pushed into tourist trap stores or meals.
The people on the cheap tours were packed into non-air conditioned buses (a zoo from what they all told me), were crowded into boats, and generally treated like cargo.
To me it was well worth the extra money since I wasn't traveling alone.
I did a 2 day Mekong tour with Sinh Cafe and semi enjoyed it. Yes, you are going to be herded like cattle from place to place and it will be a bus instead of a/c car with private guide. You will be in a room with another person, but I can live with that. I would rather have the additional $100 in my pocket than be escorted around by private guide. If you are used to backpacking around, go with the packaged tour for $18. That is the way most of us bump around Asia and bus and community dining is not a deal breaker. You will get great photo ops either way.
We booked one of the cheap deals from the travel agencies in HCMC, around 15-20 USD for a 2 night 3 day trip, with transfer to Phnom Penh.
Although we were hearded around a bit and some of the tourist trap stops were pretty poor (eg cheap homestay, coconut candy museum) overall it was thoroughly enjoyable and we got to see plenty of stunning scenery and life on the Mekong. Can't tell you how good the more expensive trips are but if you're on a budget the cheap packages are great value.
I was on my honeymoon so the privacy to me was worth it. I'm sure that you can find a great tour for less than what I paid but I liked the solitude a lot, seeing the country with a friendly guide and no other travelers (especially the occasional obnoxious ones who pop up now and again) and getting well off the beaten path (walking through the areas of the Mekong we hiked through without a guide would have been impossible - never would have found our way out).
That made it special for me, but it's a personnal thing.