Can Tho (Cần Thơ), one of the 5 biggest cities in Vietnam, is a rich land endowed by nature. Visiting Can Tho, you get to see the famous Cai Rang floating market and enjoy hand picking fruit from luxuriant gardens all year round. Summer is the blooming season of all kinds of fruit in Southern Vietnam.
Especially, if you arrive in Can Tho on full moon days (12th and 4th) of the lunar month, you will be joining in Thuong Dien (Lễ Thượng Điền) and Ha Dien festival (Lễ Hạ Điền), 2 of the 3 biggest festivals in Mekong Delta.
To support you on a perfect trip, here are some of my experiences, tips and top things to do in Can Tho – Vietnam. Keep reading and take some note!
How to get to Can Tho
From Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh city)
Can Tho is about 160 km (100 mile) down south from Sai Gon. You can get easily travel to Can Tho by bus. A few of my favorite bus firms include:
– Mai Ling express is the best, add: 400A Le Hong Phong street – 10 district – Sai Gon. Tel: +848.8323.888 – +84184.108.40.206
– Hoang Long bus at Mien Dong bus station (292 Dinh Bo Linh – Binh Thanh distrcit – Ho Chi Minh City). Tel: +848.2243.8989
– Phuong Trang bus at Mien Tay bustation (395 Kinh Duong Vuong – Binh Tan – Ho Chi Minh City). Tel: +84838.309.309
Additonally, there’re many buses at Mien Tay bus station with fares from $8 to $12.
From Hanoi or Da Nang
Can Tho is definitely far away from both, so take the plane. They have direct flights to Can Tho, which because it is quite a big city and popular destination in Mekong Delta not only for tourists but also businessmen. You can easily consult flights infomations on the websites of VietnamAirlines or VietJetAir and remember, especially budget travellers, early booking is likely to be very beneficial.
Hotels and motels in Can Tho
You should book hotel near Ninh Kieu dock (bến Ninh Kiều). This area is convenient for travelling, moving and near many restaurants. There’re many hotels from 1-star to 3-star, with rate from $10 to $30 and over. Here are a few to consider:
1. Happy hotel at 74 – Pham Ngoc Thach street, 1km from Ninh Kieu dock, $13/room, tel +84710.6604.468. Another hotel on Pham Ngoc Thach, Hanh Phuc hotel (3-star), $30/room, tel +84710. 3600.797
2. Tay Do hotel at 61 Chau Van Liem street, $23/double room (breakfast included), tel +84710.3827.009. Average quality, old room but near the center and Ninh Kieu dock.
3. Phuong Trang hotel at 5 – Hoang Van Thu – Ninh Kieu district, tel +84710.3829.789 or +84918.574.568. Rates are from $6 – $10/room.
4. Thanh Thuy hotel at 68 Hai Ba Trung street, in the center of Ninh Kieu district, rates from over $15, tel +847.102.464.464
5. Ninh Kieu Hotel at 2A Hai Ba Trung Street, Ninh Kieu, tel +84710.3817.676
6. Notice the area behind Maximark supermarket, near bus station on Nguyen Trai street, there’re many cheap motels, rating from $7/double room. Spacious room, near the center.
7. Nam Long motel region on Quang Trung street – Cai Rang district. New and clean motels, cheap rate from $8 however far from center.
Top things to do in Can Tho
1. Cai Rang floating market (Chợ nổi Cái Răng) is a highlight and a must in any Can Tho trip. Among other similar markets, Cai Rang is the most crowded and the busiest. Both touristy and local at the same time.
You have to get Cai Rang by boat from Ninh Kieu dock, taking about 30 minutes for about $15/boat. You can choose to contact +8491.3733.796, who will pick you up at your hotel, or Mrs. Nga +8491.8368.697.
Another option is travelling on big boats: you cross Cai Rang bridge, turn left and go along the riverbank to see a dock where there’re are big boats with seats and life jackets.
Be aware that you should arrive soon (about 6 a.m) to see the full bustle scenes. Don’t eat breakfast in town because well, you’re visiting a market. A “Mekong Delta” style breakfast on boat is waiting for you. Once-in-a-lifetime experience, I assure you!
Beside Cai Rang, there’s also Phong Dien floating market but less bustling than so not many tourists come to this market.
Normally, after floating around the market, people will go back city, wrap up the floating market trip, have some fun in town and ready to visit fruit gardens the next day. You can choose to do both on the same day, but I’d rather advise you not too. Don’t have to be rush, otherwise you won’t have enough time to indulge yourself in each of this enticing land.
2. Along with floating market, visiting fruit gardens is also a must-do in Can Tho. To get to the farms, you also have to use boats to go deep into the water maze and enter numerous small canals. The journey on water itself is eye-opening and interesting to feel more of the local life pace. On the route, there’re many choice of farms to visit, just pick one and drop by. In the farm, you can enjoy many kinds of fruit, stroll around gardens, and watch the farmers take care trees and harvest fruits, etc.
Other attractions in Can Tho
3. Bang Lang stork garden (Vườn cò Bằng Lăng) is 60 km (40 miles) from Can Tho. There are over 10 kinds of storks here. The best time to visit the garden (in a day) is around 6-7am, when the storks leave to find food, and 5-6pm when they fly back to the nests. You can get there by boat (renting in Ninh Kieu dock) or motorbike (should not get by car).
4. My Khanh tourist village (Làng du lịch Mỹ Khánh). There’s a very interesting tour named “try doing landlord”, suitable for group of 5 people, price is $250/3 days. They will serve you like a real landlord in feudal system.
5. Evening, stroll along Ninh Kieu dock or rent a boat for moon and stars gazing on river, for a beautiful and romantic time.
What and where to eat in Can Tho
1. Quang porridge (cháo Quãng) is under Cai Rang bridge, serving both porridge and noodle. Be prepared because it is very crowded.
2. Hawkers in Can Tho. There’re many hawkers on Ly Tu Trong and Tran Hung Dao street from 4pm. Go for street food!
3. Mrs. Muoi Xiem Pancake (Bánh xèo Bà Mười Xiềm) – a very famous restaurant – at 13/3 – 917 street – Tra Noc ward – Can Tho.
Or Tan Dinh pancake, crossing Nguyen Van Cu bridge you will see many restaurants offer only pancake.
4. Bich Kieu chicken, in Thot Not district and 200m (660ft) from Cha Ba bridge, serve a kind of chicken that Can Tho people call “stone chicken” (gà đá). Very tasty!
5. Hoa Su restaurant in Cai Khe – Ninh Kieu district also has many dishes, but the 2 tastiest ones your should order are baked snail and Tau Hu (tàu hủ – a very popular snack in Southern Vietnam).
6. Blood oyster porridge on Ly Tu Trong street, open only in the evening.
7. Pho restaurants. Pho 116 on 3/2 and Mau Than street. Pho Thuy (phở Thủy) on Phan Dinh Phung street. Or Cali restaurant on Cai Ke commercial center.
8. Khot cake (bánh khọt – a snack) on Nguyen Viet Hong street (near Don cafe), $0.2/bowl, cheap but very tasty.
9. Sauce hot pot (Lẩu mắm) on Tran Viet Chau street, near the junction. This very restaurant has no official name, people usually call “Cây Sơri” restaurant.
10. Ngoc Tuyen stone chicken restaurant in Nam Long region – Cai Rang district, whose chicken hot pot (lẩu gà) is extremely tasty.
11. Baba, snake hot pot at Cay Dua restaurant, at the foot of Hung Loi bridge. Very tasty and cheap. A nice surprise to me!
12. Bun Rieu (Bún riêu – a kind of noodle with crab-based broth, a specialty of Southern Vietnam). My friends in Can Tho recommended:
– Nguyet Bun Rieu on Nguyen Khuyen street. Tasty and cheap.
– Fried sausage Bun Rieu on De Tham, close to Cuong rice restaurant.
13. Bun Bo Hue (Bún bò Huế – Hue Beef noodle)
– Vi Da on Xo Viet Nghe Tính street, quite tasty.
– The restaurant next to Mau Than gas station, near Xuan Khanh market.
14. Fruits: you should buy at the market in the commercial center. Fresh, cheap and a lot to choose from.