=== Floating markets ===
=== Floating markets ===
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The floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area, and can be quite freely visited on board smaller boats for about US$
3/hour per boat. You may take a tour from the Ninh Kiều pier, where the "boat ladies" are charmingly eager to welcome you aboard. On September 2011, starting prices are about 10$/ 20$ for 3h/7h tour with either one market + canal, either multiples markets + canal. It could be bargained down 7$/15$. Pay attention as there is an old pushy lady haunting tourists at the riverside to sell boat tours. Best to get your tour directly from a boat driver. |+|
The floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area, and can be quite freely visited on board smaller boats for about US$/hour per boat. You may take a tour from the Ninh Kiều pier, where the "boat ladies" are charmingly eager to welcome you aboard. On , starting prices are about $/$ for 3h/7h tour with either one market + canal, either multiples markets + canal. It could be bargained down. Pay attention as there is an old pushy lady haunting tourists at the riverside to sell boat tours. Best to get your tour directly from a boat driver.
| || |
* '''Cai Rang''' (''Cái Răng'') floating market is the main wholesale floating market near Can Tho. Go there early in the morning (as early as 5:30am), and come back through the small tributaries to Can Tho river; about 3-4 hours. The '''Mystic sampans''' offer higher-end breakfast cruises to Cai Rang floating market.
* '''Cai Rang''' (''Cái Răng'') floating market is the main wholesale floating market near Can Tho. Go there early in the morning (as early as 5:30am), and come back through the small tributaries to Can Tho river; about 3-4 hours. The '''Mystic sampans''' offer higher-end breakfast cruises to Cai Rang floating market.
Revision as of 10:19, 23 January 2013
Can Tho (or Cantho; Vietnamese: Cần Thơ) is the biggest city of the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam with an estimated population of 1,5 million as of 2012. The name comes from "cầm thi giang" - river of poems. It is also referred to as "Tay Do" meaning "Western capital". The city is famous for its floating markets, Buddhist pagodas, delicious food and fresh fruits and the beauty of the Mekong girls.
Famous floating market in Can Tho
Can Tho is located on the south bank of the Hậu River, the bigger branch of the Mekong River. It is in vicinity to Sóc Trăng, 1.5 hours from Long Xuyen, 3 hours from Châu Đốc and Rạch Giá, about 6 hours from Cà Mau, and 169 km (3 hours) from Ho Chi Minh City.
The climate is tropical and monsoonal with two seasons: rainy, from May to November; and dry, from December to April. Average annual humidity is 83%, rainfall 1,635 mm and temperature 27 °C. 
Can Tho has a reputation for being a welcoming place, where everybody is smiling and welcoming. Indeed the Vietnamese in the Mekong Delta are making good a saying that goes:
"Cần Thơ gạo trắng nước trong
Ai đi tới đó lòng không muốn về"
"Cần Thơ, white rice, clear waters,
All who come wish never to leave."
Can Tho has a population well in excess of 1 million and is the biggest city in the Mekong Delta. Although developing fast (about 10% growth in 2004), it retains its charm as the center of a rural area, as urban development is taking place in a rather orderly manner.
As a regional hub, it is easy to get to Can Tho from cities in the Mekong Delta. There are bus operators from all big cities and minibuses from smaller ones. If you arrive from Cambodia, you will probably stop in Chau Duc and catch a bus to Can Tho here. There is also one bus line directly from Phnom Penh once a day. It is difficult, not to say impossible, to get in by car from Cambodia as a tourist. You should also check, if you want to enter Vietnam by bicycle or motorbike. A new airport services Can Tho. Currently flight destinations are limited, but as the city grows more destinations are planned.
By Express Bus
Many operators serve Can Tho from cities in the Mekong Delta up to the center and north of Vietnam. You may have a short stop in Ho Chi Minh City. Most travelers arrive in Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh City.
From Ho Chi Minh City bus operators servicing Can Tho are leaving every one to two hours around the clock from the Western Bus Station (Bến Xe Miền Tây). Prices are US$4-7. Smaller more local buses from Saigon to Can Tho leave in the morning. There are three main operators servicing routes from Ho Chi Minh City as well as other destinations - "Thanh Buoi", "Phuong Trang" and "Mailinh". The big operators also have a departure point in the center of the city at Le Hong Phong street, from where shuttle buses will bring you to Bến Xe Miền Tây. You can take a taxi to Le Hong Phong street in district 10. Look out for the office of "Thanh Buoi" (white background logo with a flower), "Phuong Trang" (red signs) or "Mailinh" (all green) or go straight to Mien Tay bus station in district 6. The taxi from district 1 costs around US$12 in May 2012. With most operators you will get a small bottle of water included in your ticket price. Bigger buses offer AC, but also entertainment program of Vietnamese films and music shows, which are usually perceived as too loud for "Western ears".
Major Bus Operators
Thanh Buoi is providing the fastest service to Can Tho as the bus only stops for a 10 minutes on the way from Ho Chi Minh city. The ride takes about 3 hours. The company provides a small bun as a free snack and free water for customers. At the arrival in Can Tho shuttle buses bring you to your final destination inside the city. Have the address of your hotel ready. The shuttle buses are paid for as part of your ticket. Cost from HCMC (May 2012): 110,000VND
Mai Linh has a good reputation as an operator of buses and taxis. The service to Can Tho will stop for a food break for half an hour on the way. The ride takes 4 hours. The company provides free water. Mailinh has stopped to provide shuttle services for customers. Cost from HCMC (May 2012): 80,0000VND
Please note: as of this writing it seems like there is no Mai Linh Bus anymore. - Though they are still operating taxis within the city.
Phuong Trang has the largest number of services to Can Tho daily. There is a stop for 30 minutes in the large Phuong Trang highway service and restaurant point. The ride takes 4 hours. The operator provides free water in the bus. In Can Tho a shuttle bus will bring you to your final destination, if you have the address of your hotel ready. This is included in the price of your ticket. Cost from HCMC (May 2012): 100,000VND
By motorbike, car and taxi
By car, allow about 1.5 hours from Sóc Trăng, about 3 hours from Châu Đốc, about 3.5 hours from Rạch Giá (85,000 Dong in april 2012), less than 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh City (169 km, 100,000 dong), about 6 hours from Cà Mau and about 1.5 hours from Long Xuyen. It is possible to rent a car for US$120-150 for a one-way trip (or return trip in the same day) for 2-3 passengers from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho. A driver is included in the price. In case you want to drive yourself, you should check well in advance about the conditions.
You might be slightly faster by motorbike than by car depending on your way of driving. It is quite easy to rent a motorbike in the tourist area in Ho Chi Minh City district 1. Most rental stores will rent a motorbike to you, if you can show a driving license of any country or will even not ask for a license at all. Beware that you are only covered by your insurance in case of an accident, if your driving license is valid in Vietnam. Most European licenses are not automatically accepted. You might need to take an additional test with Vietnamese authorities in order to comply with the local rules.
It is also possible to rent a taxi for about almost the same price as a car for 1 way from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho. Try hiring a Vinasun Taxi or Mailinh taxi.
Apart from overnight boat cruises for tourists, there are not anymore regular boat transportation services to Can Tho. This is due to the fact that the time for driving to Can Tho has been reduced to less than 4 hours with the opening of the Can Tho bridge in 2011 and the finalization of the motorway around HCMC.
Trà Nóc Airport now has a vast international terminal with convenient facilities. As of 2011, the airport is connected to Hanoi, Phu Quoc with flights on Vietnam Airlines and Con Dao with flights on Mekong Air.
It is easy to get around in Can Tho by motorbike or bicycle. Mailinh and Happy Taxi are the two main taxi operators of the city. If you want to travel on the river, you can easily rent a boat service at Ninh Kieu pier. There are also ferries to surrounding areas here. Can Tho is a big city, but the center can be easily explored on foot (đi bộ). Most hotels will offer you a map.
Pagodas and Temples
- Quang Duc Pagoda, Mau Than Street, one of the biggest and most active Buddhist Temples with monks living in the premises. Visitors are welcome at any time of the day. There are fewer people during the afternoon, when it is rather hot, but it gets very lively often in the evenings.
- The Khmer Pagoda of Munirangsyaram, Hoà Bình street
- Tham Tướng Church on Mau Than Street, nice little church build by the French
- Tin Lanh Baptist Church close to Can Tho University in Mau Than
Xuan Khanh Quarter
The Xuan Khanh quarter is the geological center of the city and part of the Ninh Kieu district. In the 18th century the quarter was originally named Tham Tướng after the general Tham Tướng who fought the Siamese troops in 1772 that were advancing from Ha Tien. As with so many places the name of the area was changed after the Vietnamese war to reflect the ideology of the new regime in power.
- Mau Than Street is the central street of Xuan Khan and famous as the longest street in the Mekong Delta stretching over 30 kilometres. The street is named after the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, that was launched on the Vietnamese New Year on January 30, 1968 by forces of the People's Army of Vietnam against South Vietnam. In Vietnamese, the offensive is called Tết Mậu Thân (Tet, year of the monkey). So in fact "Mau Than" actually means "year of the monkey" . Xuan Khanh Market at the beginning of the street is a daily stop for many citizens who get their food and other supplies here. Mau Than is also center for the local community as there are two churches and the Quang Duc Pagoda in just a few hundred metres distance. Depending on the day of your visit you may see many traditionally dressed monks and Buddhist citizens or a celebration service of one of the churches that often reach into the street in the evening (usually between 6pm and 8.30pm).
- Xuan Khanh Student Quarter: Many students from the nearby Can Tho University live in Xuan Khanh or do their daily shopping in one of the local shops. There are small eateries in the street and alleys as well as cafe's catering for the growing student population. As this quarter is less frequented by tourists, visiting Xuan Khanh you will find more local experience than in the upmarket Ninh Kieu pier. The best time to visit is in the afternoon and early evening. After visiting one of the churches or a temple, you could eat out in one of the street restaurants if you are up for an experience like a local student. There is also a famous alley with a dozen of hot pot restaurants here dubbed by locals Hot Pot Alley or in Vietnamese Hẻm Vit Nau Chao (refer to food section for more info). In the small streets and alleys coming from Mau Than you often find low budget snack bars or restaurants. In Nguyen Cu Trinh Street (side street of Mau Than) for example you can eat fresh mussels and sit on those plastic chairs they set up quickly and serve customers in the evening. If you dare also try one of the local sweets in the small corner alley at Hem 95 (Alley 95). After that you can visit one of the bars or cafes in Mau Than or relax on the roof top bar of the yellow mango colored Hotel Xoai, which means "Hotel Mango" as there used to be a mango orchard at this place.
Hai Bà Trưng area
- Hai Bà Trưng street: This area is one of the main areas and attractions of Can Tho. Located directly at the Mekong river. It offers a park at the riverside with the Ho Chi Minh statue. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants around here and from here you can book boat trips, for example to the floating markets. Just look for some friendly tour guides, who speak english pretty well. They'll also help you make the tour of your choice which offers a greater experience than the standard tours offered by the tourist office. (also without paying commission).
- Market at Cái Khế : there is a local daily market at Trần Văn Khéo street. Also you'll find the Can Tho water park here.
- Cái Khế Market or the longer form Trung Tâm Thương Mại Cái Khế (Cái Khế Commercial Center) is a big market on Trần Văn Khéo street catering for businesses including restaurants and hotels as well as end consumers. The market stretches over two sides of the street, with the area facing the river offering products for daily use, fish and other fresh food products that arrive on the river. On the other side of the market, you will find many wholesalers for textiles and home products.
- Xuan Khanh Market, is a market predominantly for fresh food, fish, vegetables and fruits. Other products for all daily needs are also available. It is located at the beginning of Mau Than Street. Many locals still use the name Tham Tuong Market, according to the old name of the area, but it is officially called Xuan Khanh Market now.
- Ninh Kieu Pier Tourist Market, The main market of Can Tho used to be an open market located on Ninh Kiều pier. Today, the only original building left is the beautiful old market hall, now surrounded with a garden along the river. Now Cái Khế markets further upstream the Can Tho river and Xuan Khanh Market host the increasing activity.
The floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area, and can be quite freely visited on board smaller boats for about US$5/hour per boat. You may take a tour from the Ninh Kiều pier, where the "boat ladies" are charmingly eager to welcome you aboard. On January 2013, starting prices are about 15$/25$ for 3h/7h tour with either one market + canal, either multiples markets + canal. It could be bargained down. Pay attention as there is an old pushy lady haunting tourists at the riverside to sell boat tours. Best to get your tour directly from a boat driver.
- Cai Rang (Cái Răng) floating market is the main wholesale floating market near Can Tho. Go there early in the morning (as early as 5:30am), and come back through the small tributaries to Can Tho river; about 3-4 hours. The Mystic sampans offer higher-end breakfast cruises to Cai Rang floating market.
- Phong Dien (Phong Điền) is further upstream the Can Tho river, and worth seeing as it is a retail market. It is very active at dawn, but slows down early too, so you may want to go there by land. The arroyos back to Can Tho are also very much worth a ride on a small boat.
- Phung Hiep (Phụng Hiệp) is much farther away, in the neighboring Hậu Giang province, but deserves a trip if you are going to stay more than a few days, as it is always bustling with activity.
- Tra On (Trà Ôn), in Vinh Long province, is just over an hour downstream the Bassac (the lower Mekong branch, also called Hậu Giang or Sông Hậu). It is a small floating village's market anchored near the clouds' island (Cù Lao Mây).
There are many bridges with beautiful views.
- Locals like to spend the evening at Nguyen Trai bridge, where a cool air is breezing from the river.
- A nice spot with a picturesque view is Ho Xang Thoi, a small man-made pond surrounded by the typical "skinny" apartments that you see in Vietnam. Makes for a very nice photo during sunset.
The canal system around Can Tho is a fascinating travel network, much more relaxed than the bustling roads. Hire a small row boat (probably with a small diesel motor as well) that can take you through the small canals that the larger tour boats can't navigate. Tours from 6am to 2pm, including two floating markets and various sites along the canals, can be found for under 250,000 dong per person. Talk to Can Tho Tourist (on the corner near the Ho Chi Minh statue) to get an idea of the prices, but it is a bit more expensive than making your own arrangements. Ask around at the river front and make sure to negotiate the price. Beware of some boat drivers asking for more money to visit the canals. The original price should already include them.
Can Tho is a place to experience the local life in a relaxed way. It is like a real life cultural experience and there are many things to do. While there are a couple of museums, they only open on special days and even expats living in the city may have never visited them or even heard of them. Traveling in the Mekong Delta is about experiencing the here and now and feeling the fast pacing change that is going on in Asia, where "the old" is constantly merging with "the new". The most famous activity in Can Tho in the morning is certainly the visit of the floating market, but there is much more to the city.
- Visit the floating market and enjoy a cruise on the river
- Floating Market Boat Tours (quality budget tours on the Mekong river), Hai Bà Trưng, Ninh Kieu, Opposite Ho Chi Minh Statue (pick up at hotel or in front of Ho Chi Minh Statue). In order to catch the most lively scene at the markets, tours start early in the morning, usually between 5-6am or according to appointment. The floating market tours are a highlight of every visit to Can Tho. There are several river markets in the area, the closest about 20-30mins by boat from Ninh Kieu pier. It's about 5 USD per hour. Book the tour at a local tour guide who you find at the river side - or actually they will find you. When you book service staff will come to pick up the payment and provide you with the ticket and details.
- Bassac cruises (discovery overnight cruises through the Mekong delta on board classic wooden boats), 144 Hai Bà Trưng, Cần Thơ (Moored right in front of the old market hall; office on the street, facing the market hall), ☎ +84 (0)710 382 9540 ([email protected], fax: +84 (0)710 382 9541), . The Bassac wooden cruisers run regular overnight trips between Can Tho and Cái Bè, but also to Châu Đốc and the frontier, and provide high-end services including non-stop air-con and all meals cooked on board. $200+.
- Mekong Eyes cruise  The Mekong Eyes combines regional boat-building traditions with modern comforts. Cruising CaiBe- Can Tho 100km, 9 hours
- Mystic sampans, in the old Market hall, Hai Bà Trưng, Q. Ninh Kiều (on the river side of the old market hall, right on the Ninh Kiều pier, ask the Sao Hôm restaurant), ☎ 0710 381 5616 ([email protected]), . The Mystic sampans offer breakfast cruises on the floating markets; meals and sunset cruises on the river, and combine very well with cycling tours. $35+.
- Make a bicycle tour around the city. You can rent a bike in some hotels.
- Motorbike tour (get true experiences, discovering around city and countryside), ☎ +84(0)942234409 ([email protected]), . Motorbike tour offers the tour by motor to many interesting destinations in Can Tho such as : Binh Thuy ancient house, My Khanh tourist village, Phu Sa isle, pagoda, church, floating market, Can Tho bridge, some special local coffeeshop.
- Get a "Banh Mi", a local bread sandwich, in the morning for example at Saigon Bakery in Mau Than Street. You can take it to a street cafe and enjoy it with a Vietnamese cafe.
- Buy and eat some local fruits at Xuan Khanh market and try to deal with locals who do not speak English. Depending on the season there are different fruits. Different kinds of mangos from sour to very sweet grow in the Mekong Delta and pineapples are available most of the year. A nice speciality are the Bon Bon fruits.
- Play a game of pool or billiard with the locals during the day, when it is too hot to walk around. Billard is extremely popular in Vietnam and billiard halls are frequented around the day. There is billard place in Mau Than Street next to the petrol station.
- Why not join the the local students for a volleyball game? Go to Can Tho University Campus in Xuan Khanh and play a game under the cooling trees. Afterwards you can have a snack in one of the university restaurants or drink a cool mango shake in the cafeteria. If you were sweating a lot and feel like a shower afterwards, head over to the nearby mango colored Hotel Xoai in Mau Than street and ask to take a shower in the public bathroom. They are ok with it, if you are a guest of their roof bar.
- If you like sports, go to the central sports court and join playing soccer in the evening
Hairdresser in Mau Than - Cultural Experience
- Enjoy a head massage in a local hairdresser and get a new hair cut, if you dare. There are some hairdressers close to Xuan Khan market and the Quang Duc Pagoda. Depending on the hairdresser - very stylish and airconditioned place to very local place - you may pay betweent US5 to US$10 or 100,000 to 200,000VND (May 2012). Ask before how much it will cost and how long the massage will be. A good head massage should be around 30 minutes. If they do not understand English agree at least on the price. You can write it down for example. A strange way they do it here, that they cut first and wash the hair afterwards. Just go for it.
- Start the evening with a manicure and get your nails polished in one of the manicure shops. Several shops are in Nguyen Viet Hong Street (nice street with trees connecting Mau Than Street and Ly Tu Trong Street at Luu Huu Phuoc Park)
- Visit the entertainment park Luu Huu Phuoc in the evening. Beware Vietnamese people enjoy extremely loud music and do not mind distorting speakers. It might be very loud there, but it is definitely a cultural experience.
- Get some new books to read at one of the big bookstores, for example Fahasa close to Xuan Khanh Market.
- If you are with kids: Be creative and paint small ceramic figures in one of the bigger bookstores, usually on the upper floor. The fee is very small. You can take them home afterwards as a souvenir.
- Visit a local Pagoda and Church
- Experience the Vietnamese service in a local church. Around 30% of Vietnamese are Catholic. There are two churches in Mau Than Street. Because of the hot weather, services are usually in the evenings. The Sunday service starts at 6:30 pm.
- Light an essence stick and give a prayer for your family in a Buddhist temple. See huge crowds of traditionally dressed Buddhists flocking to the Pagoda temples at weekly Buddhist events. The Quang Duc Pagoda in Mau Than Street is very popular.
- Enjoy the view over the city in the evening from Nguyen Trai bridge
- Tour and make friends with locals - Can Tho Mau Than Street Tour (For groups of 4 or more after confirmation, starts usually at 5pm for about 45 mins), Start: 93 Mau Than, Xuan Khanh, ([email protected]), . 5pm-5.45pm"". Make friends with locals and students and join the English language Can Tho Mau Than tour taking place since the beginning of 2012. A group of young locals started to offer the free tours of Mau Than Street and the Xuan Khanh Quarter with the goal to give visitors insights into the local culture and meet people who you cannot usually meet as a tourist. It covers some interesting spots of the quarter like Tham Tuong Catholic Church build by the French, the Quang Duc Pagoda, Tin Lanh Baptist Church, Saigon Bakery, Xuan Khanh Market, surrounding area and streets of Mau Than and Can Tho University. The feature of the tour is that you have the chance to get many tips from local people for your travels around Vietnam - how to deal with motorbike drivers to taxis, shopkeepers and travel agencies. You learn how Vietnamese drink the ice coffee (Cafe da), how to get a good head massage at a barber shop, what to pay for at tailor shops and much more. The tour is done for the fun and making friends only. A donation to the welcome club is welcome. for free / '''Please add a phone number to contact you in the email.
Can Tho has four major universities. There are several smaller schools and colleges in the city.
- Can Tho University (Biggest University with main campus in Xuan Khanh).
- Tay Do.
Can Tho University of Medicine and Pharmacy (website: http://www.ctump.edu.vn/en/).
Vo Truong Toan University (website: www.vttu.edu.vn/en/)
If you have an academic background then teaching English for pupils and students is always a possibility as Can Tho is a young city and education is in strong demand. German, Chinese, Korean and Japanese are good, too. Otherwise, if you have special skills for example in the IT industry there is always a chance to get hired by an international company, though the challenge is still to find out about it. In Can Tho MBM Vietnam is providing information on opportunities and job offers for internationals with a technical background, freelancers in development cooperation, translators and hospitality services. There are also meet ups and barcamps from time to time in the city, where you could meet internationals, who can give you tips about hiring companies.
- MBM Vietnam (International IT and Consulting company supporting international businesses and job seekers), ([email protected]), .
- Supermarkets: There are many supermarkets in Can Tho such as: Coopmart (Hoa Binh Street), Metro Hung Loi (91B)[you need a special registration card to shop here], Maximark (opposite the bus station) and Vinatex Plaza in Xuan Khanh.
- Market Halls: A market to experience how the locals shop is Xuan Khanh Market at the beginning of Mau Than Street. The Can Tho main market is Cái Khế. The old market hall at Ninh Kieu pier offers some choice of souvenirs and finer handicraft for tourists. (Also see local markets in the section "See")
Vegetables and Fruits at Market in Mau Than
Can Tho is famous for its delicate cuisine and extra-fresh fruit and vegetables, and a good place to try and eat unknown fruits. Among the local produce, you may like to try the different varieties of mangoes, oranges, jackfruit, pomeloes, grapefruit, but also custard apple, corossol, longans or even durian. A place where the locals buy fruits are the markets like Xuan Khanh Market.
Hot Pot Alley
Hem 1 Ly Tu Trong dubbed Hẻm Vit Nau Chao, the Hot Pot Alley, is one of the attractions for locals and students in the Xuan Khanh Quarter that is still a kind of secret tipp in Can Tho even though it recently started to becoming popular with expats as well (especially with those who are not afraid of Vietnamese only menus). The alley hosts about a dozen restaurants all offering the same specialty, Can Tho Hot Pot in different styles with fresh fish from the Mekong river or with Duck (also a local specialty).
Hot Pots are served on a fire cooker on your table. As the soup gets cooking you can add different vegetables, leaves, egg noodles or rice noodles, tofu and eggs. You only pay for the side dishes you use and you can order more of any dish you wish. You also get free refills of the hot pot soup. Ask for "them nuoc" meaning more water. It might seem unusual to put in some of the leaves into the hot pot, but try and you will love it. The dishes you will find in most places are:
- Vit Nau Chao (Duck hot pot)
- Lau Hai San (Seafood hot pot)
- Lau Ca Keo (Fish hot pot, small fish that looks similar to Eel)
- Lau Chua (Sweet sour hot pot with river fish)
As the menu is usually only in Vietnamese, you can just look around at other tables when you enter the restaurant and point out, that you would like to order the same. You will also often find a friendly local who speaks some English or German and will be happy to help you. They will probably cheer to you with beer and will be glad to talk to you more afterwards.
Some places are very full. These are the best. Do not be afraid to enter a place that looks like there are no more tables available, just take your time, look out for the waiter and indicate the number of people you are all together (e.g. show two fingers and say "hai nguoi" meaning "two people"). They will then find a table for you or clean up some space.
A more romantic restaurant than the usual neon light places is located in the alley towards Ly Tu Trong street. They have some colorful lamps and you can also sit outside. If you are up for an even more local experience choose one of the restaurants further down the alley.
The Hot Pot Alley (Hẻm Vit Nau Chao) is located between Mau Than Street and Ly Tu Trong Street. As many of these small alleys do not show up on tourist maps or online maps, you might need to ask somebody on the street for directions, but it is also not difficult to find if you stick to the directions here: From Mau Than Street enter Hem 142 Mau Than opposite the yellow painted Hotel Xoai, after a hundred metres there is a bifurcation. Turn left here and continue on the alley when it turns right. You will cross a tiny bridge and see the first restaurant shortly after that. From Ly Tu Trong Street enter Hem 1 Ly Tu Trong close to Luu Huu Phuoc Park.
- Nam Bo (Nam Bộ), 1 Ngô Quyền (right in the middle of the Ninh Kiều pier, near the statue of Uncle Ho), ☎ 0710 382 3908 ([email protected]), . 06:00 - 23:00. Seated a classic building facing the river, the Nam Bộ serves very tasty Vietnamese as well as some Western cuisine such as pizza and spaghetti. The service is nice and efficient, and a surprising variety of languages is spoken there, from English to French to Dutch and even some Japanese.
- Sao Hom (Sao Hôm), in the old market hall, facing the river (When on the Ninh Kiều pier, follow the pier with the river to your left hand, you cannot miss), ☎ 0710 381 5616 ([email protected]), . 06:00 - 23:00. Located in the central market's hall, facing the Can Tho river, the Sao Hôm serves a large palette of Vietnamese cuisine, as well as some western food, too. The ambiance at night is unique.
- l'Escale (the Port of Call), 1 Ngô Quyền, 4th floor (right in the middle of Ninh Kiều pier, on the top floor of the Nam Bộ Boutique Hotel), ☎ 0710 381 9139 ([email protected]), . 06:00 - 22:30. l'Escale is a fine restaurant with a view to the river and the bus boat wharf, with a bar and a wine cellar.
- Phở Cali, Trần Văn Kéo Street (close to the central market in front of the Exhibition Centre and the Citimart supermarket).
- Café Hợp Phố (Ngô Gia Tự, close to Nink Kiều peer) and Café Thủy Mộc (3/2 street, in front of the Foreign Languages Center at the Campus 2 of Can Tho univerisity) offer quiet places in a green and nature atmosphere. Lot of drinks and meals available at good prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Gony Spa Cafe Lounge, Nguyen (close to Ninh Kieu pier). Offers a variety of food including pizza, pasta, beefsteak as well as local food. It also offers different shakes, smoothies, coffee and ice cream.
Some restaurants more aimed at serving Vietnamese guests but that can offers a more exotic and delightful experience to foreigners have recently appeared. The Alô 100 on CMT8 road not far from the ferry (Đường Cách Mạng Tháng 8) provide a nice environment, varied meals and affordable prices for a service that is still improving.
- Goat Specialties (Lẩu Dê Thanh Thuý) is a little aside of the city, and run by a French person who settled in Can Tho who offers a variety of dishes revolving around savory goat meet.
There are also a variety of other restaurants, the quality and service of which spans the whole range from poor to great.
- Dog meat (Thịt cầy Trần Văn Hoài, ngon hết biết)
- Duck soup (Vịt nấu chao Hẻm 1, ngon hết sảy)
Locals drinking coffee and Sugarcane on Ice in Mau Than Street stalls
Vietnamese typically enjoy a coffee (strong, with lots of condensed milk and ice), fresh coconut juice, and fruit drinks (lemonade, orange juice, etc.) in one of the many small stalls along the streets or in the markets. Sugarcane with ice is also very popular. There are sugarcane machines along the roads everywhere in the city. If you want to spend a couple of hours like a Vietnamese, some nice cafes are located in Mau Than street or at Ninh Kieu pier.
The nightlife in Can Tho is not as vibrant as Ho Chi Minh City but it is not as "bottle service" centric as HCMC either. Can Tho clubs often hire famous Vietnamese singers to perform live in their venues and feature go go dancers on regular nights. Prices of drinks are around 80,000 VND (4USD) for a bottle of beer (May 2012), around 1.5 mio (75 USD) for a bottle of locally produced Vodka and more for imported Cognac and Whiskey.
Alternatively you can go to one of the roof bars that are springing up in the city to finish the day in a more relaxing way.
- XK club , 108B Tran Van Kheo St, Ninh Kieu District. Nice red-black decor with banging sound system but quite small therefore more secure and chill than other clubs. Pretty and friendly go go dancers.
- Xe Loi Club, Hau Riverside Park, Bai Cat Zone, Cai Khe Ward, Ninh Kieu District. The place to be on weekend, spacious club, good lighting/sound system with laser to boost. Open until 3 AM with the most fun happening from 11PM till 2 AM. Mixed youthful and energetic but can be quite sketchy crowd.
- Golf Club, Golf Hotel near Ninh Kieu pier and the Central Bank. Quite upscale club with many business men preferring this place to chill out on the weekend.
- International Roof Top Bar (with a beautiful view over the city. The place is run by a young Vietnamese-German couple who moved to Can Tho from Singapore.), 93 Mau Than Street, Xuan Ward, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho (Just around the corner of Can Tho University main campus and 10 minutes from Ninh Kieu Quay Riverside. Look out for the big yellow building in Mau Than Street.), ☎ +84(0)939871001 ([email protected]), . The terrace is opened to public around the clock, but the bar is only serviced at peak times. Drinks can be ordered on the ground floor at any time. The terrace is a cozy place with lots of plants to relax for expats and travelers. They also have a very fast Internet connection. Prices are very moderate: Beer/Rum/Wodka/Whiskey $1, glass of wine $1.80, soft drinks $01. There are also small snacks, chocolate and soups available.
- Tiny Corner Cafe obviously the most famous bar in town where you can meet very interesting people in the youth community who can really communicate in English. Tiny Corner is one of very few places in Can Tho that offer alcoholic drinks including spirits, mixed drinks, and popular cocktails in unbeatable price. This is a young charming Vietnamese-lady-run English Acoustic music cafe at the heart of the city where local students and English lovers come to speak English and enjoy acoustic music performances by student singers. 14/7 Lý Tự Trọng, Cần Thơ. If you are at Ninh Kieu wharf, keep going straight on Châu Văn Liêm street until you see a very big crossroad, take the street at the right of Lưu Hữu Phước park and heading until you see the alley number 14 (opposite to number 1 alley), the cafe is around 100 meters away from the beginning of the alley, to the left, phone +84 (0)9399 410 89, [email protected], Tiny Corner Cafe's. Confused about the direction, pick up a phone and give Miss. Lan a call (above number). She'll guide you to her cafe just in a minute. Some activities at Tiny Corner can be listed as following: English Speaking Happy Hour (Mon, Thurs), American Culture Club (Tue), English Live Acoustic Shows (Sat, Sun), etc. All of the shows star around 7:00PM. Other than that, you can come anytime to enjoy their wide range of non-alcoholica and alcoholic drinks such as Vodka-lemonade, Jack Daniel's - Coke, Mojito, Caipiroska, Long Island IceTea, Tom Collins,... just to name a few.
- Cafe Bar Eden, Le Loi St. Good for couples
- Cafe Billard At Chuan, Le Loi St (Lê Lợi). Invovled MC and DJ.
- Cafe Buu Dien (Post Office Cafe) is a nice family owned and operated cafe. Its very fast paced, but at the same time very relaxing.
- l'Escale (the Port of Call), 1 Ngô Quyền, top floor, ☎ 0710 381 9139 ([email protected]). 06:00 - 22:30. Jazz bar and lounge overlooking the river, l'Escale has a wine cellar.
Hotel Xoai in Can Tho. Typical format 4m wide, 25m long
There is a wide range of hotels available in Can Tho, from the very local Kach San Tây Hồ, to the state-owned (and state-like) hotels like the International Hotel and Kim Tho Hotel or to the recent and more elaborate Hotel Xoai geared towards International budget and business travelers. The standard format of many buildings in Vietnam is around 4m wide and 25m long. Buildings are very "thin". And, this means buildings next to each other often have rooms without windows. When you book a hotel, check that there is a window in your room as some cheaper hotels, that often also cater for two hours "transit guests", offer rooms without windows.
Notes: Beware the giant, neon, Chinese-style riverside hotels. They come with pounding Karaoke and slippery staff. In particular, avoid the Golf Hotel. The spa staff demand inflated tips then block your exit - extortion.
- Hotel Xoai (Newly opened budget mini-hotel with roof bar run by a German expat), 93 Mau Than Street, Xuan Khanh, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho City, Vietnam (Just around the corner of Cantho University main campus and opposite Quang Duc Pagoda.), ☎ +84 (0)907652927 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: Late Check Out at 1pm. Young and friendly atmosphere. 23 compact rooms with double or single beds, private bathroom with shower, toilet, fan, AC, phone. All rooms with windows. Fast free wifi throughout the hotel. Guests can relax on the roof terrace. Helpful and trustworthy staff, moderate prices for tours, no additional charge on bus bookings. Bicycles and motorbikes available for rent. US$12/15/23. (10.031389,105.775000)
- Hello 2 Hotel (massage and spa inhouse), 31 Chau van Liem Street, Ninh Kieu (Close to Ninh Kieu Quay), ☎ 0913 764 994. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Friendly and comfortable. Here, you can relax with special service and take care of your health for spa, massage from our young ladies, bar and drink coffee. US$15-25. (10.030958,105.78616515)
- Spring Hotel, 22 Khu Dan Cu So9 Duong 30/4 (Ninh Kieu district), ☎ 0710 3839723 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Very clean and friendly place. Rooms maintained and bed sheet changed daily during stay. Enjoy meals any time you want at the nice sitting area by the big windows on each floor. The downside is distance from the center and river (40mins on foot) but free bikes to ride around as well as motorbike rental. Staff are nice. Free wifi. USD$25/21/19/17.
Quang Duc Pagoda in Mau Than Str.
- 31 Restaurant, 31 Ngo Duc Ke, ☎ 07103825287. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. One of several cheap and very simple places on this road. Rooms can be a bit smelly as the kitchen aromas waft upstairs. If you have an allergy beware of the dust from fans. Wifi works at reception, but not working in the rooms (most notably back ones). Avoid booking bus and tours there as it seems a lot more expensive US$17.
- Xuan Mai Hotel (hotel in Can Tho city centre with no english speaking staff), Nguyen An Ninh 60, Can Tho, Vietnam. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Location is good. Relatively clean, but some rooms with older beds are said to have bed bugs. Rooms have LCD TV with Vietnamese channels. AC available with top up charge, but smell a bit old. Bathroom with bathtub. Warm water might not work at night because of their water system. Check for rooms with windows. US$16/19/25.
- Kim Thơ. checkin: 3pm; checkout: 10.30. 3-star hotel that is clean with wifi and wired LAN in the rooms. Located in Ngô Gia Tự close to Ninh Kieu boat pier. US$90/110/130.
- Kim Lan Hotel (hotel with 24 hour reception), 138 Nguyen An Ninh St, Can Tho, Vietnam. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Staff is friendly and trying to be helpful. Some rooms do not have windows. Hotel with mixed reviews and some complaints about bug smells and fungus in bathrooms. The front rooms are facing the street and might be bit noisy for some as the windows are not insulated very well, but offers a simple breakfast on top floor with a view over the city. $US58/68/78.
- Nam Bộ Boutique Hotel (7-suite classic hotel right on the pier, with cozy accommodation and caring service), 1 Ngô Quyền, Ninh Kiều, Cần Thơ (Right in the middle of the Ninh Kiều pier, facing the river), ☎ +84 (0)710 381 9139 (+84 (0)381 9139), . The Nam Bộ Boutique Hotel has one of the finest diners in town, quiet and overlooking the river, l'Escale. $100+.
- Victoria Can Tho, ☎ 71.810111 (fax: 71.829259), . Luxury resort on Cái Khế island, including a swimming pool, a spa, a ballroom, and a rice barge for a scenic breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rooms from US$150+, river view suites from US$220+.
From Can Tho you can easily reach other cities of the Mekong Delta such as Sóc Trăng, Châu Đốc, Rạch Giá, Vinh Long and Cà Mau. If you are heading to the north from the main bus station be careful about what ticket you buy. If you are going with a mini bus and your destination is not directly on the route to Ho Chi Min City they might just drop you off somewhere. You will have to buy another ticket and end up paying way too much.
There are two ways to get to Phnom Penh from Can Tho. There is a bus operator leaving at the petrol station close to the bus station (Can Tho Ben Xe) early in the morning. Alternatively you can take a local bus from Can Tho to Chau Doc stay there overnight and take a bus to Phnom Penh from there.
Help for foreign citizens
Germany and EU (Unofficial support for German and EU citizens by a German expat with office inside Hotel Xoai), 93 Mau Than, Xuan Khanh, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho, Vietnam, ☎ +84 1286380690.
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