Vietnam’s rice basket
Situated at a vital river junction, bustling Can Tho is the largest city in the mythical Mekong Delta, famed for its fertile land and floating markets which give the city the nickname of ‘Vietnam’s Rice Basket’. It’s the fourth largest city in Vietnam, and pretty to boot, with a promenade for sauntering and the busy Ninh Kieu waterfront lined with colourful houses, restaurants, and glowing green gardens. It pays to explore some of the charming smaller canals or skip out of the city all together and immerse yourself in the verdant countryside, emerald rice paddies and incredible local food, including rice paper made by hand at a traditional village. The luscious landscape is reflected in the local cuisine, so don’t leave without trying regional dishes like Cong Cake, studded with fried shrimp and served with herbs and fish sauce.
Things to do
Built by the Duong family in 1870, this ornate and imposing mansion is one of the few remaining residences of this era in the Mekong Delta. Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture designated Binh Thuy Ancient House an official national relic and it’s well worth visiting this colourful home which has starred in its fair share of movies too. It’s still managed by the same family who maintain the uniquely French exterior and antique-laden interior that has a more classically Vietnamese flavour.
One of Can Tho’s biggest drawcards and postcard images are the floating markets, and Cai Rang Floating Market is one of the biggest. ‘Stallholders’ pile their boats with fresh wholesale produce and take to the waterways for business. The markets aren’t as big as they used to be, due to the development of roads and bridges, but they’re still worth exploring, so set your alarm early, hire a tour guide and buy your sweet Vietnamese coffee from a floating vendor!
Smoke on the water
Venture into the Guangzhou Assembly Hall on the waterfront and follow the haze of incense towards the spectacular Ong Temple. Wildly decorated and hypercoloured with a canopy of cone-shaped incense coils hanging overhead, the incredibly photogenic Ong Temple was originally built to worship the deity Kuang Kung, who represented loyalty, justice, and reason. As a functioning temple, you’ll still find many people visiting to pray and pay their respects.
A history of mystery
For a less than typical tourist experience, head to the Museum of Tarot, a three-storey museum established in 2016. Showcasing fascinating items from as far back as the 15th century, this museum focuses on three themes: Lithotherapy, Cartomancy and Demonology. Housed in an old hotel built in the Vietnamese renaissance style, this unique spot is not just for those interested in tarot – the enthusiastic owner will guide you around the collection and share some surprising historical stories.
Markets after dark
For a cute stroll after dinner, head to the atmospheric Tay do Night Market, where you’ll find stalls lining the street. There are stalls for picking up souvenirs, clothes, bags and accessories, and a whole section specialising in local street food, especially grilled skewers and refreshing sugar cane juice. Mingle with the locals who zip around the stalls on their motorbikes while you choose a few mementos to take home.
Distance to Can Tho 7km
From the airport If you’re travelling in a group, you can get a shuttle bus from the airport. Just buy tickets after you land. As the airport isn’t far from the city centre, taxis are also a plentiful and affordable option.Back to top
When to go
May to November is generally the rainy season, with a high likelihood of monsoons. The rest of the year is fairly dry but humid, so time your travel for between December and April to avoid the wet weather.Back to top
Even though it’s quite a large city, you can explore much of the centre on foot. You can also get around via taxi or you can easily hire a bike or motorcycle. To travel around on the water, there are boat services and ferries.Back to top