Can Tho is one of the largest cities in South Vietnam behind Saigon (it’s home to over a million people), and is the economic center of the Mekong Delta, though no home to any of the best beaches in Vietnam. However, its strong economy doesn’t mean that it is a city without character, as it is actually an interesting place to explore, with floating markets and some lovely canals to navigate, along with a charming range of buildings and sites to visit. The city is also at the heart of the rice production area, so it also enjoys good transport links with Saigon because of the need to be able to transport the rice easily.
The bright colors of the buildings and the flags that are hung around this Khmer temple are an attractive welcome for those visiting the site for the first time, drawing you in towards the central stupa of the temple. The ornately decorated stupa is lovely with its use of gold and red colors providing a very dramatic interior, while the handrails on the stairs for those entering the stupa are carved into the shapes of naga. Around the stupa there are several buildings for the use of the monks, around fifty of which live on the site, and these monks can often be seen around the temple complex.
Ninh Kieu Park
As you would expect from the main city of the Mekong Delta, life by the river plays an important part of the culture of the city, and the Ninh Kieu Park is where many of the city’s residents come to relax and unwind. The well maintained gardens are interspersed with open areas, the largest of which is dedicated to a statue of Ho Chi Minh. The park is generally quite quiet and peaceful during the day, but in the evening the cafes and restaurants on the streets surrounding the park come to life with plenty of stalls and people relaxing and enjoying the pleasant atmosphere.
Cai Rang Floating Market
A short trip up the river from the Ninh Kieu Park is the Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest wholesale floating market in Vietnam, and it is a popular trip for visitors to Can Tho. The market does get an early start, so the boat trips usually depart between 5am and 7am, so this is definitely one for the early risers. The market has a range of goods on offer, with boats filled with freshly picked fruit and vegetables doing a brisk trade, while the colors of the beautiful flower vendors’ boats are also a wonderful sight to see.
Quang Duc Pagoda
This busy Buddhist temple is one of the most interesting and attractive sites in Can Tho, with a group of monks on the site who are very welcoming and happy to introduce visitors to the traditions of the temple. The temple is at its quietest during the early afternoon when the temperatures can be quite hot, so most people will visit this beautifully decorated pagoda either in the morning or in the early evening.
Can Tho Bridge
This impressive bridge is the most expensive bridge in Vietnam, and is a cable-stayed bridge which takes a four lane carriageway over the Bassac River, which means the bridge has a total length of 1.6 miles. There are pedestrian lanes on both sides of the bridge, so it is possible to walk along the bridge and to look out over the river. Construction of the bridge has proved to be controversial, following a collapse which killed and injured many local workers, and led to several prosecutions and the banning of two Japanese companies from operating in Vietnam for one year.