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Can Tho Travel Guide: Attractions, Things to Do, and Safety Tips

June 04, 2024

Can Tho is a vibrant and picturesque city located in the heart of the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam. Known for its iconic floating markets, serene countryside, and delectable local cuisine, Can Tho has become a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic glimpse into the Vietnamese Delta way of life. Whether you’re interested in exploring the bustling waterways, discovering ancient architecture, or simply immersing yourself in the local culture, Can Tho has something to offer for every kind of traveler.

Can Tho, Mekong Delta

Floating Market in Can Tho

Introduction

What is Can Tho?

Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta region and the fourth-largest city in Vietnam. Situated on the banks of the mighty Can Tho River, the city serves as a regional hub for agriculture, commerce, and transportation. The city’s strategic location has made it a crucial center for the region’s thriving trade, particularly in the realm of rice, fruits, and seafood.

Why visit Can Tho?

Can Tho is a unique and captivating destination that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the Mekong Delta. The city’s floating markets, where vendors sell an array of fresh produce and local delicacies from their boats, are a quintessential experience for any visitor. Beyond the markets, Can Tho is also home to a rich cultural heritage, with ancient temples, historic houses, and fascinating museums that showcase the region’s diverse history and traditions. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the lush countryside, cycling through verdant rice fields and visiting local villages to gain a deeper understanding of rural Vietnamese life.

Getting to Can Tho

By Air

Can Tho International Airport (CAH) is the main airport serving the city, located approximately 15 kilometers from the city center. The airport receives both domestic and international flights, making it a convenient entry point for travelers. Major airlines like Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Jetstar Pacific operate regular flights to Can Tho from major cities across Vietnam, as well as select international destinations.

By Bus

Can Tho is well-connected to other cities in the Mekong Delta and throughout Vietnam via an extensive network of bus services. The city’s main bus station, located in the city center, offers regular departures to destinations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Rach Gia, Ha Tien, and more. Buses are a popular and affordable option for travelers, with comfortable and air-conditioned vehicles available.

By Boat

For a more scenic and unique journey, travelers can also reach Can Tho by boat, either from Ho Chi Minh City or other Mekong Delta cities. Boat tours and ferry services offer the opportunity to admire the picturesque riverside landscapes and observe daily life along the waterways. This mode of transportation is a great way to immerse yourself in the region’s aquatic culture.

Accommodation in Can Tho

Hotels in Can Tho

Can Tho offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious hotels to more budget-friendly options. The city’s riverside area is particularly popular, with numerous hotels offering stunning views of the Can Tho River. Upscale hotels like the Azerai Can Tho, Victoria Can Tho Resort, and Wyndham Can Tho provide guests with modern amenities, exceptional service, and easy access to the city’s top attractions. For more budget-conscious travelers, there are also many mid-range and budget-friendly hotels, such as the Kim Lan Hotel, Can Tho Hotel, and Thanh Thuy Hotel, which offer clean and comfortable rooms at reasonable prices.

Homestays in Can Tho

Experiencing a homestay is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture and way of life in Can Tho. These family-run accommodations provide visitors with the opportunity to interact with friendly hosts, enjoy home-cooked meals, and gain a deeper understanding of the Mekong Delta’s traditional lifestyles. Popular homestay options in Can Tho include the My Khanh Tourist Village, where guests can stay in traditional stilt houses and participate in various cultural activities.

Hostels in Can Tho

For backpackers and budget-conscious travelers, Can Tho also offers a selection of hostels that provide affordable and social accommodations. These hostels often feature dormitory-style rooms, shared bathrooms, and common areas where travelers can mingle and exchange stories. Some of the well-reviewed hostels in Can Tho include the Can Tho Backpackers Hostel, Mekong Hostel, and Chill House Hostel, all of which offer comfortable and clean facilities at reasonable prices.

Things to Do in Can Tho

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market

One of the must-visit attractions in Can Tho is the Cai Rang Floating Market, considered the largest and most vibrant floating market in the Mekong Delta region. This bustling marketplace, which operates early in the morning, features hundreds of boats laden with a dazzling array of fresh produce, seafood, and local delicacies. Visitors can join a boat tour to experience the lively trading and bargaining between vendors and buyers, or even have the opportunity to purchase items directly from the boats.

Biking through the countryside

Beyond the bustling floating markets, Can Tho also offers the opportunity to explore the serene and verdant countryside. Visitors can rent bicycles and embark on guided tours or self-guided rides through the region’s lush landscapes, passing by traditional villages, rice paddies, and fruit orchards. This peaceful cycling adventure allows travelers to immerse themselves in the tranquil rural life of the Mekong Delta.

Visit Bang Lang Stork Garden

Located just outside of Can Tho, the Bang Lang Stork Garden is a unique natural attraction where visitors can observe the nesting and breeding behaviors of thousands of storks and herons. The garden’s peaceful environment and the opportunity to witness these magnificent birds in their natural habitat make it a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

Explore Binh Thuy Ancient House

The Binh Thuy Ancient House is a well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage. This 19th-century mansion, with its intricate woodcarvings, ornate furnishings, and serene gardens, provides visitors with a glimpse into the lives of the affluent families who once resided in the Mekong Delta.

Binh Thuy Ancient House

Binh Thuy Ancient House

Where to Eat in Can Tho

Local Street Food

Can Tho’s vibrant street food scene is a testament to the city’s culinary traditions and the ingenuity of its local vendors. Visitors can explore the bustling streets and alleyways to discover a vast array of tantalizing street food options, such as banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), pho (noodle soup), and che (sweet desserts). These affordable and authentic local dishes offer a delicious way to immerse yourself in the flavors of the Mekong Delta.

Restaurants with Mekong Delta Cuisine

In addition to the lively street food scene, Can Tho also boasts a variety of restaurants that specialize in the unique and flavorful cuisine of the Mekong Delta region. These establishments showcase the diverse range of ingredients and cooking techniques that have been honed over generations, offering dishes such as ca kho to (braised catfish), cha ca (grilled fish with turmeric and dill), and banh xeo (sizzling crepes).

Cafes and Bakeries

Can Tho is also home to a thriving cafe culture, with a growing number of cozy coffee shops and bakeries that offer respite from the bustling streets. Visitors can indulge in fragrant Vietnamese coffee, freshly baked pastries, and artisanal desserts while admiring the city’s riverside views or observing the daily life of the locals.

Must-Visit Attractions in Can Tho

Ninh Kieu Pier

Ninh Kieu Pier is the heart of Can Tho, serving as a bustling hub for transportation, commerce, and leisure activities. The picturesque pier, with its colorful boats and lively atmosphere, is a popular spot for visitors to stroll, enjoy the riverfront views, and immerse themselves in the local way of life.

Ong Pagoda

The Ong Pagoda is a significant religious site in Can Tho, dating back to the 19th century. This ornate and well-preserved temple showcases the intricate architecture and rich symbolism of Vietnamese Buddhist culture, making it a must-visit destination for those interested in the region’s spiritual heritage.

Can Tho Museum

The Can Tho Museum is an excellent resource for learning about the history, culture, and traditions of the Mekong Delta region. The museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits provide visitors with a comprehensive understanding of the area’s development and the lives of its people.

Exploring the Surrounding Areas

Phong Dien Floating Market

While the Cai Rang Floating Market is the most famous in Can Tho, the Phong Dien Floating Market is another remarkable destination worth visiting. Situated further upstream, this market offers a more authentic and less crowded experience, allowing visitors to observe the daily trading and social interactions of the local river communities.

My Khanh Tourist Village

Just outside of Can Tho, the My Khanh Tourist Village offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the traditional culture and way of life of the Mekong Delta. Visitors can participate in various cultural activities, such as cooking classes, boat rides, and visits to local homes and farms, providing a truly authentic and enriching experience.

Transportation within Can Tho

Taxis and Grab

Taxis and the popular ride-hailing app Grab are readily available in Can Tho, making it easy for visitors to navigate the city. Taxis can be hailed on the street or booked through hotels, while Grab offers a convenient and cost-effective option for getting around.

Motorbike Rentals

Renting a motorbike is a popular and efficient way to explore Can Tho and the surrounding areas. Many hotels, hostels, and specialized rental shops offer motorbikes for hire, allowing visitors to navigate the city’s streets and venture out into the countryside at their own pace.

Bicycle Rentals

For a more leisurely and eco-friendly mode of transportation, visitors can also rent bicycles to explore Can Tho’s scenic streets and countryside. Bicycle rental services are readily available throughout the city, making it easy for travelers to discover the city’s hidden gems and immerse themselves in the local way of life.

Shopping in Can Tho

Can Tho Market

The Can Tho Market is a bustling and vibrant shopping destination, offering a wide range of local produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Visitors can browse the stalls, bargain with the vendors, and immerse themselves in the lively atmosphere of this traditional marketplace.

Vincom Plaza Can Tho

For a more modern shopping experience, the Vincom Plaza Can Tho is a popular destination. This large shopping mall features a variety of international and local stores, as well as a cinema, restaurants, and other entertainment options.

Souvenir Shops

Can Tho is also home to numerous souvenir shops that offer a diverse range of locally-produced crafts, textiles, and other unique items. These shops are excellent places to find authentic mementos and gifts to take home, such as traditional basketry, lacquerware, and handcrafted pottery.

Weather in Can Tho

Best time to visit Can Tho

Can Tho has a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by warm temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. The best time to visit the city is during the dry season, which typically lasts from November to April. During this period, the weather is generally sunny and pleasant, making it an ideal time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions and navigate the floating markets.

What to pack for Can Tho

When packing for a trip to Can Tho, it’s important to consider the warm and humid climate. Lightweight, breathable clothing, such as t-shirts, shorts, and comfortable walking shoes, are recommended. Visitors should also bring sun protection, including hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, as well as insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes. Additionally, it’s a good idea to pack a light rain jacket or umbrella, as brief showers can occur even during the dry season.

Safety Tips for Travelers in Can Tho

Avoiding scams

As with any tourist destination, it’s essential to be vigilant and aware of potential scams in Can Tho. Common scams to watch out for include overpriced taxis, inflated prices at tourist-oriented shops, and unauthorized tour guides. Travelers should research and agree on prices beforehand, use reputable taxi companies or ride-hailing apps, and only engage with licensed tour operators.

Emergency contact numbers

In case of emergencies, it’s important for travelers to be aware of the necessary emergency contact numbers in Can Tho. The local emergency number is 113, which can be used to reach the police. Visitors should also keep the contact information for their hotel, embassy, or consulate on hand in case they need assistance.

Cultural Etiquette in Can Tho

Greetings and gestures

When interacting with locals in Can Tho, it’s important to be mindful of cultural norms and etiquette. A common greeting is a polite nod or a slight bow, accompanied by the phrase “Xin chào” (pronounced “sin chow”). Avoid public displays of affection, as they are generally frowned upon in Vietnamese culture.

Dress code in temples and pagodas

When visiting religious sites, such as temples and pagodas, visitors should dress modestly, covering their shoulders and knees. Shoes must be removed before entering these sacred spaces, and visitors should avoid wearing bright or revealing clothing, as it is considered disrespectful.

Notes

  • Be prepared for the humid weather and bring appropriate clothing and sun protection.
  • Respect local customs and traditions, and be mindful of your behavior in public spaces and religious sites.
  • Familiarize yourself with emergency contact information and be cautious of potential scams.
  • Embrace the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural beauty of the Mekong Delta region.

Mistakes to Avoid

  • Underestimating the time needed to explore the floating markets and surrounding areas
  • Not being prepared for the hot and humid weather
  • Falling victim to tourist traps or scams
  • Not respecting local customs and cultural etiquette
  • Neglecting to research and book accommodations and transportation in advance

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the best way to get to the floating markets in Can Tho? The most popular way to visit the floating markets is to join a guided boat tour, which can be booked through your hotel or a reputable tour operator. Alternatively, you can take a local boat or hire a private boat to explore the markets on your own.
  1. How long should I allocate for a visit to Can Tho? We recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Can Tho to fully experience the city and its surrounding areas. This will allow you to visit the floating markets, explore the countryside, and immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine.
  1. Is Can Tho safe for solo travelers? Yes, Can Tho is generally considered a safe destination for solo travelers, but it’s always important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas. Avoid walking alone at night and use reputable transportation options.
  1. What are the must-try local dishes in Can Tho? Some of the must-try local dishes in Can Tho include banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches), pho (noodle soup), ca kho to (braised catfish), and banh xeo (sizzling crepes). Be sure to also sample the abundant fresh fruits and seafood that the Mekong Delta region is known for.
  1. Is it easy to navigate Can Tho without knowing Vietnamese? While knowing some basic Vietnamese phrases can be helpful, it’s not entirely necessary to get around Can Tho. Many locals in the tourism industry, such as hotel staff and tour guides, have a good understanding of English. Additionally, you can use translation apps or carry a phrasebook to assist with communication.

Conclusion

Can Tho is a captivating destination that offers a unique and authentic glimpse into the vibrant culture and stunning natural beauty of the Mekong Delta region. From the iconic floating markets and serene countryside to the rich history and delectable cuisine, this city has something to captivate every traveler. By following this comprehensive travel guide, you’ll be well-prepared to embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of the Mekong Delta and create lasting memories in this extraordinary Vietnamese city.

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