Can Tho

Introducing Can Tho

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Can Tho is the political, economic, cultural and transportation centre of the Mekong Delta. It is also the largest city in the region which is connected to most other population centres in the Mekong Delta by a system of rivers and canals. These waterways and the colorful Cai Rang Floating Market draw interest of tourists coming to Vietnam.

A population of around a million makes CAN THO the delta’s biggest city, and losing yourself in its commercial thrum for a few days is the perfect antidote to time spent in the quiet backwaters of the delta. However, first impressions are rather less than encouraging: Can Tho is a hefty settlement but, once the oppressive urban sprawl encasing the town has been negotiated, its breezy waterfront comes as a pleasant surprise.

At the confluence of the Can Tho and Hau Giang rivers, the city is a major mercantile centre and transport interchange. The recent re-opening of the former US air base for commercial flights, as well as the enormous effort of completing the biggest bridge in the delta, shows that this city features large in government plans for future development.

But Can Tho is no mere staging post. Some of the best restaurants in the delta are located here; what’s more, the abundant rice fields of Can Tho Province are never far away, and at the intersections of the canals and rivers that thread between them are some of the delta’s best-known floating markets. Can Tho was the last city to succumb to the North Vietnamese Army, a day after the fall of Saigon, on May 1, 1975 – the date that has come to represent the reunification of the country.

Though its boat trips are the main reason for visiting Can Tho, a handful of lesser diversions on dry land will help keep you amused in the meantime.

What to expect ?

The most interesting thing to do in Can Tho is take a boat ride through canals and visit Cai Rang Floating Market. Outside of the town is the stork garden at Thot Not where hundreds of egrets, herons and cormorants gather in the treetops to roost late in the afternoon. Can Tho is usually combined with the trip to Chau Doc , a little town near Cambodian border.

Orientation

The province sprawls westwards from the eponymous provincial capital along the southern bank of the Bassac Hau River, the larger of the two branches of the Mekong.

It's bordered to the west by An Giang and Tien Giang provinces, to the south by Hau Giang and to the north, on the other side of the river, by Vinh Long and Dong Thap. The province was actually a municipality before it was given provincial status when it was carved out of the larger original province (also called Can Tho) in 2004. The remainder forms the new province of Hau Giang. This elevated status reflects Can Tho's importance in the region, both as a trading and transportation hub and as home to the Delta's largest city.

While Can Tho city is very large compared to its neighbouring provincial capital cities, it's very manageable. However, traffic can be a bit manic and it's best to leave the driving to the locals. Most of the hotels and guesthouses targeting travellers are located in the southeastern part of the city. Hai Ba Trung is the main riverside strip and most accommodation can be found from Ngo Duc Ke to the south to Ngo Gia Tu in the north and Phan Dinh Phung to the west. ATMs are scattered throughout the city. The most central are two next to each other on the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Ngo Quyen.

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