Can Tho, a four hour-drive from Saigon, is one of Vietnam’s five cities, together with Hanoi, HCMC, Da Nang and Haiphong, and has a history closely connected with the Hau River, a branch of the mighty Mekong River.
Not only is it a great starting point for those who want to explore the Mekong Delta’s floating markets, but also boasts distinctive foods and activities for travelers to explore.
The best time to visit Can Tho is during the flooding season between September and November.
Here are some suggestions for first-time visitors to explore the city in less than 24 hours.
Getting to Can Tho
From Saigon, visitors can get to Can Tho by motorbike or car via the National Highway 1A. Budget travelers can take buses at Mien Tay bus station in Binh Tan District, or coaches with a one-way ticket price of VND130,000 ($5.6).
Cai Rang floating market (5 a.m.)
People trade goods at the Cai Rang floating market on the Hau River on February 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Dang Le.
It goes without saying that a floating market has to be on the to-do list of any traveler to the Mekong Delta, and the biggest of all is the Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho.
Tourists will need to get a boat at Ninh Kieu Port to get to the market, which floats on the Hau River, about six kilometers from the city center. A boat ride costs VND30,000 ($1.3). If travelling in a group, you can rent a boat for VND350,000-400,000 ($15-17).
A paddle along Can Tho’s canals
The 40-minute boat ride can be an amazing experience by itself as it passes houses built on stilts over the water and boats of all sizes, shapes and colors docked along the shore.
Though the market remains open until around 11 a.m. it is advisable for visitors to reach the place at 5-6 a.m. to avoid the scorching sun and to see the morning rush here as traders bring goods from farms through small canals.
Noodle soup for breakfast (8 a.m.)
A bowl of bun goi da with noodles, shrimp, meat, and other ingredients. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh.
After heading back to Ninh Kieu Port, visitors can head to the local wet market to try one of the Mekong Delta’s lesser known foods, bun goi da.
The dish consists of noodles, shrimp, meat and
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