What to do in Can Tho, charming city of the Mekong Delta?
- on Nov 28, 2019       By: Bảo Ngọc
Can Tho city and its surroundings
Located on the Hau River (Bassac) about 170 kilometres from the bustling megalopolis of southern Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta, the largest political, economic and academic centre in the region and capital of the eponymous province. Can Tho city is strongly focused on river and commercial activities as well as rice growing. This region is also considered as the rice granary of southern Vietnam. Well served by an airport and a good road and river network, Can Tho is an excellent base to discover the Mekong Delta region, its local life on the arms of the river, floating markets, villages and beautiful countryside. Can Tho is a destination to be privileged for your stay in this marvellous region which looks like a nonchalant Eden.
The floating markets of Can Tho
Floating markets alone justify a stay in Can Tho. There are three floating markets in the area and you are advised to get up very early to discover these unique places that are the very definition of the river culture of the Mekong Delta.
The Cai Rang Floating Market is certainly the best-known of all floating markets in the Mekong Delta as it is the largest wholesale market and has been recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage in the year 2016. Every day, when it is still dark, hundreds of boats of all sizes loaded with watermelons, melons, carrots, sweet potatoes, fruit, or onions, converge to Cai Rang to trade. Many small producers come to sell their crops to wholesalers who will then sell them to other parts of the Mekong Delta. Some small retailers also come with their small boats to refuel and then sell the goods in the villages. It is an incessant ballet of boats where there are even floating grocers that offer coffee, soup or sandwich. The atmosphere is really extraordinary, it is a quite captivating sight that is offered to you especially near the Tet, the lunar new year of Vietnam, a period at which the Cai Rank floating market has its strongest activity.
The Phong Dien Floating Market is about 20 km southwest of Can Tho. Less touristy than that of Cai Rang, Phong Dien floating market passes for the most authentic market of the delta, because the motor boats there are rarer than elsewhere. Here, too, the trade is in full swing before dawn, and you can know what the boats sell thanks to the merchandise attached to a pole at the front of the boat. A merry tumult reigns in the midst of these boats covered with fruits, vegetables and other food or craft products, to the delight of the travellers immersed in this local commercial tradition.
The Phung Hiep Floating Market, located 30km south of Can Tho City, is a typical delta market known for selling reptiles of all kinds and especially snakes that will then be sold for the most part to restaurateurs who have done their speciality.
What to see and do in Can Tho?
If the discovery of floating markets is the main tourist attraction, the surroundings of Can Tho deserve to be explored because they contain many interesting sights.
+ Visit land markets. These offer an entertainment and an assortment of goods that have nothing to envy of floating markets.
+ The markets of Cai Khe and Tan An are teeming with life and gather all products from floating markets as well as a wide variety of seafood, turtles, snakes, tissues and clothes... There’s a possibility of eating there to taste a few culinary delights of the Mekong Delta.
+ Discover by boat the magnificent Can Tho landscape heritage through the canals and arroyos, so you can observe the local life and enjoy the villages on stilts and lush orchards where there’s a feast on tropical fruits.
+ Cycle in the countryside to admire the vast expanses of rice fields and to meet a welcoming population.
+ Discover the rich local crafts: factory of rice leaves and noodles, coconut candy factory workshop, wooden objects, basketry, pottery, etc...
+ Discover the varied religious heritage: churches, chapels, Vietnamese, Khmer and Chinese pagodas, and other temples of Cao Dai.
+ Visit of the house of Mr. Binh Thuy. This superbly preserved mansion was built in 1870 by the grandfather of the current owner, who wanted to worship his ancestors. This typical house in the Mekong Delta has also served as a backdrop for the filming of "The Lover" by Jean-Jacques Annaud.
+ Eat at the night market to discover local culinary specialities such as Vietnamese pancake Banh xeo, lacquered pork or grilled snails with pepper.
Best season to visit Can Tho
The best time to go to Can Tho according to us varies between November and April after the rainy season.
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