Can Tho – a little bit of everything
Update: Jun 10, 2010
Can Tho City, commonly referred to as the “western capital” is the Mekong River Delta’s economic, and cultural centre. 169km from HCMC on the banks of the Hau River (the Mekong’s main branch) Can Tho is a bustling, growing city of over 1 million people which nevertheless retains its charm.

The pace of economic growth, while fast is more orderly than in the larger cities, and the city promises to become a major destination for tourists.

Surrounded by vast rice paddies, gardens, and orchards Can Tho is famous for its colorful floating markets known as Cai Rang and Phong Hiep. Both can be accessed by tourists hiring small boats for around $3USD per hour.

The key when visiting these markets is to go early. Starting at dawn, hundreds of canoes laden with fresh produce gather together on the river. The bow of each boat is fitted out with a rod, on which a sample of farm produce is displayed. Prospective buyers need only look at the rod to know what is for sale. In the morning sunlight, the bustling, colorful scene is at its best, and the produce is at its freshest.

On the return journey tourists can swing by the tiny islets of Tan Loc, Son, Khuong, and Au, that dot the Hau River, or explore the maze of streams and canals that weave across the area.

Another must-see in Can Tho is the gardens and orchards that produce a rich variety of tropical fruits. At present, 11 ecological areas and countless private gardens are open to the public. Ninh Kieu, located at the crossing of the Hau and Can Tho rivers, boasts a beautiful collection of ornamental plants and flowers.

Other noteworthy destinations include the old market, with its beautifully restored main hall; the Munirangsay Pagoda that serves the Khmer community in Can Tho the ancient house in Binh Thuy which was built in 1870 and the Bang Lang stork garden, a 2- hectare bird sanctuary near national road 91, that is home to over 250,000 storks, about 45km from the city centre.

Because of its large population, Can Tho provides all the comforts of civilisation without affecting itself from the natural beauty.