Can Tho City On The Mekong River Delta In Southern Vietnam
Can Tho City
With a population of well over 1 million people, Can Tho City is the largest city on the Mekong River Delta. Can Tho City is famous for it's floating markets, however I found the city itself to be more impressive than one would expect. Can Tho City is often overlooked by tourists, and I would have never travelled there if it wasn't for the fact that I was accompanying a friend who was on a business trip. I found the people to be very friendly and helpful, and there were plenty of things to do in Can Tho City. The cost of food and accommodation was very reasonable, and I enjoyed myself during my time there.
Can Tho City is located 169 Km south of Ho Chi Minh City on the Mekong Delta. The city is located on the southern bank of the Hậu River, one of the larger branches of the Mekong River. Travelling by car or bus takes approximately 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh City. The cost of a bus ticket is only 6USD per person each way. In the past there was a ferry service between Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City, however the service is no longer in operation. We have attached a photo with the location of the city highlighted in green.
The most convenient location for tourists to stay is the "Ninh Kieu District". Hotels in this area near the river will range in price from under 10USD per night to over 100USD per night. While staying in Vietnam I normally choose to stay in hotels that cost 15-20USD per night. These places are often much nicer than you would think possible for such a low price. In Can Tho City my hotel was an executive suite, with a jacuzzi style bathtub, free wireless Inernet, air conditioning, satellite television and all the amenities you would expect from a 3 star hotel.
Most of the restaurants in Can Tho City that cater to foreigners are located on the river front. There is a large open air indoor market selling souvenirs on the Can Tho waterfront, behind this market are several excellent restaurants serving both local Vietnamese food and western food. The prices are similar to Ho Chi Minh City (very cheap). There is an Italian restaurant opposite the market on the other side of the street, I never had a chance to try it but I heard it was good. Another popular restaurant is the "Mekong", they seem to have the lowest prices on beer of any place on the waterfront.
River Cruises / Floating Markets
Most tourists come to Can Tho City specifically to see the floating markets, or take a river cruise. There are many small river boats for hire offering half day trips to the floating markets for 10-20USD per person. I myself am not particularly interested in floating markets, so I opted to take a 2 day and 1 night cruise on a luxurious river boat (The Bassac III). This was one of my most memorable experiences in my travel in Southeast Asia. I would strongly recommend the cruise up the Mekong River on the Bassac III, with stops in the mangroves and viewing the floating market on the final day.
Massage parlours are all over Vietnam, however I found the massage shops in Can Tho City were far better value than those of Ho Chi Minh City. Almost all of the bigger hotels have a massage, steam bath and sauna service. The price is normally 4-5USD for a steam bath, sauna and 1 hour massage. These massage shops normally only cater to men, because they do not have separate sauna and steam bath facilities for women. The girls working at these shops do not earn a salary, so tipping is certainly expected. Normally it is expected to tip 3-4USD to your masseuses, unless you have requested additional services, in which case you can expect to pay more.
As to be expected, the nightlife in Can Tho City is nowhere near what it is in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). There are plenty of restaurants and cafes on the river front that have cold beer for as low as 40 cents per bottle. Yes, that is a cold bottle of beer served to you in a restaurant for as low as 40 cents(US currency). There is also a nightclub in the Can Tho Golf Hotel, and this seems to be the place to go if you want to meet ladies. I am not exactly sure what is going on in this nightclub, however every girl in the place offered me her phone number within 5 minutes of me entering the club. I never did try calling any of them, so I am unable to say what they might have been interested in.