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 delta.
Famous floating market in Can Tho
Although developing fast (about 10% growth per year since 2004), it retains its charm as the center of a rural area, as urban development is taking place in a rather orderly manner.
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 is a large city. Even though it's quite big, there is a very compact central area where numerous hotels, markets and restaurants can be found. Similar to other Vietnamese cities in the Delta, the central area (along Hai Ba Trung street) really comes alive after the sun goes down. During the day don't expect to see much interesting, after dark the area becomes a gathering point for locals and tourists and a great place to just hang out and shop the numerous authentic Vietnamese stores or eat at the restaurants, some of them offering really excellent value for the money. Overall it's a very friendly city and a much less crowded with traffic then HCMC. A great place to get a feel for the "real" Vietnam.
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.
From Ha Tien (Cambodian border): There are multiple daily buses that take 6 hours to Can Tho from Ha Tien departing from the large bus station on the other side of the river from the main downtown area.
From Ho Chi Minh City:
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$15 in August 2013. 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 (Mar. 2014): 125,000VND
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 (March 2016): 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, less than 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh City (169 km), about 6 hours from Cà Mau and about 1.5 hours from Long Xuyen. It is possible to rent a car for US$140-180 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.
The airport is also connected to Da Nang with a daily flight on VietJet (10:00am - 11:30am) as of May 2016.
Can Tho is a big city, but the center between the university and the quay can be easily explored on foot (đi bộ). Good hotels will offer you a map.
By bicycle and motorbike
It is easy to get around in Can Tho by motorbike or bicycle. Rental rates might be higher than in Saigon or some of the tourist hotspots in central Vietnam. This is probably due to the fact, that the number of international customers is much lower and the cost is higher. A 24 hour rental of an automatic motorbike will cost around 220.000 VND, older manual motorbikes might be substantially cheaper. Locals will usually not rent motorbikes or bicycles and it even is not so easy to find a rental shop where people speak English.
The bicycles available in Cantho are useful to get around, but beware that those bicycles are produced for the local population, who are on average smaller and lighter than Western tourists. These bicycles can break quickly and some local shops may be even hesitant to rent it out to you, because of constant repairs that are required. With the quality standard in mind, when you rent a bicycle, check that the brakes work for you!
Unlike in Saigon, there is no significant difference in the quality (or honesty) of the different taxi company drivers. Mai Linh and Happy Taxi are the two main taxi operators; however, they are both more expensive than the cheaper (but less abundant) Hoang Long taxis [071-036-88688]. Wherever you go, keep in mind that taxis are not as abundant as in Saigon. You may wish to keep a taxi company number on hand and call for a pickup rather than wait to flag one down. This will have to be done in Vietnamese (perhaps by a nearby hotel's front desk staff), as English speakers are not particularly common amongst Can Tho taxi drivers or dispatchers.
On the river
There are ferries to surrounding areas available from two stations at Ninh Kieu quay. If you want to travel on the river, you can rent a private boat at Ninh Kieu pier. Rates vary and depend on your negotiation skills. Refer to the paragraph about floating markets for more details.
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.
- Buu Tri Pagoda, Mau Than Street, a newer temple in the city
- 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). During the day don't expect this area to be interesting it comes alive after the dark.
- 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 on the upper floors. 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. If there's any confusion, a good landmark is the Iris Hotel, which is located directly across the street.
- 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.
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.
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.
The floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area. And, the canal system around Can Tho is a fascinating travel network, much more relaxing than the bustling roads. Longer tours on a private boat to the floating markets usually include traveling through the canals as well. Make sure the boat you book is a small boat that can take you through the small canals that the larger tour boats cannot navigate.
You can rent a boat from the "boat ladies" at the Ninh Kiều pier or from local tour agents. Often they can pick you up at your hotel and the tour included some snacks. Prices depend on your negotiation skills and the longer the tour, the cheaper. On August 2013, starting prices of private boats to the floating markets are about 19$ for a 3 hour tour to Cai Rang floating market and about 39$ for a 7 hour tour to both markets - Cai Rang and Phong Dien - and canals. It could be bargained down and the price also depends on the quality and state of the boat. Make sure that the boat has a shade, so you do not sit in the sun for too long.
- Cái Răng floating market is the main wholesale floating market near Can Tho, and takes place before and around dawn each day. It's literally floating in the middle of a fairly large river, far from the riverbanks, which are lined with private houses and shops. Therefore, you will absolutely have to get on a boat in order to appreciate this floating market. If you don't want to pay foreign tourist prices for a tour from Ninh Kieu, you can hire a taxi. However, don't simply ask to go to Cai Rang Floating Market, as you'll likely end up at a random deserted riverbank where the driver's buddy will try to sell you an overpriced floating market tour. Instead, ask the driver to take you to Chợ An Bình, a local riverside market located next to the floating market. From the public dock there, you can join a motorboat tour of the floating market for 50,000 VND per person. As an added bonus, the (riverside) market offers fresh produce, some shopping (of the blanket-on-the-ground variety), and some of the tastiest banh mi stalls in Can Tho.
- 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. There are cruises offered to this destination.
- 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).
- Boat and Cycle Half Day Tour (offers a wide range of tour to the most exciting destinations in Mekong Delta with moderate prices), ☎ +84 962 62 1119 ([email protected]), .  If you are looking for private tour or small group tour and not too touristy as well as gives you a close look of Mekong Delta and cycling adventure, the tour is totally designed for you. This trip will starting by boat at beginning to visit Cai Rang market, local noodle factory workshop, riding into some small canals and stop at local fruit garden where many tropical fruits can be found here, then take a bike to riding in Gian Gua relic site which reaches about 6 meters high with it’s roots and branches forming a matrix making it difficult to identify which ones are roots and which ones are branches. It’s estimated to be one hundred and fifty years old and covers three thousand square meters of the Ba temple compound. The tree was recognized as the National Heritage Tree in 2013. This is truly interesting adventure not only by boat but also by bicycle.
- Floating Market Tours (moderate prices, friendly guides and reliable private boats operated by Mekong Official Tours Information Bureau), Hai Bà Trưng, Ninh Kieu, Opposite Ho Chi Minh Statue, ☎ +84 907 85 29 27 ([email protected]), . start early in the morning at 5.30am. The bureau will send someone to your hotel for the payment and provide you with the ticket and details. Morning pick up by taxi and free snacks on the river are included. English speaking guides are available upon request. 18USD Cai Rang floating market (3hour tour)/36USD Cai Rang and Phong Dien Market (7 hour tour, 1.71 USD per person/hour).
- 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. $44+.
Make a tour on the Mekong
- 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
Enjoy local Can Tho food and make friends with locals
- Free Dinner Food Tour (tour starts with minimum of 3 participants everyday at 6.30pm), Start: 93 Mau Than, Xuan Khanh Quarter, ☎ +84 907 85 29 27 ([email protected]), . 6.30pm". The tour covers streetfood restaurants in Xuan Khanh and An Phu. Apart from the tasty food, the feature of the tour is that you get many tips from the local guide for your travels around Vietnam - learn how locals deal with motorbike drivers and taxis, shopkeepers and travel agencies. You also learn how Vietnamese drink the ice coffee (Cafe da), how to get a good head massage at a barber shop, what to pay at tailor shops and much more. Book the Cantho Food Tour online. pay what you like.
Make a motorbike tour with your personal guide
- Motorbike Evening Tours (tours by Mekong Tours Official Information Bureau), Hai Bà Trưng, Ninh Kieu, Opposite Ho Chi Minh Statue (pick up at hotel or in front of Ho Chi Minh Statue), ☎ +84 907 85 29 27 ([email protected]), . tours start in the evening at 6.30pm. The motorbike tours are a recent trend to explore the city with young guides who speak excellent English. Please call our office for more info. Moderate Prices..
- Countryside Tour (offers a wide range of tour to the most exciting destinations in Mekong Delta with a fair price), ☎ +84 962 62 1119 ([email protected]), . Countryside Tour You want to escape from a busy city, get out off the noise and enjoy natural air. The tour is totally designed for you. This trip provides a general view of countryside life style and packed full of fun with a lot to see, do, experience and totally worth to see. You have a chance to visit orchard islet, enjoy tropical fruits, natural wind, know how people make their living from farming and ranching, specially cooking " Banh Xeo" with a local family, take a boat go to some small canals and see how the local people living and trading fruits in the local market. This is truly interesting adventure on motorbike.
Explore the city
- Get a "Banh Mi", the local short baguette sandwich, in the morning for example at Saigon Bakery on Mau Than Street. You can take it to a street cafe and enjoy it with a Vietnamese coffee (iced coffee - cafe da, iced latte - cafe sua da).
- Buy and eat some local fruits at Xuan Khanh market and try to haggle with locals who do not speak English. Depending on the season there are different kinds of fruits. Different varieties of mangos from sour to very sweet grow in the Mekong Delta and pineapples are available most of the year. A nice local specialty is the Bon Bon fruit.
- Play a game of pool/billiards with the locals during the day, when it is too hot to walk around. Billards is extremely popular in Vietnam and billiards halls are frequented by locals all day. There is a billards hall on 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 cool 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 yellow colored Hotel Mango (Khach Sang Xoai) on 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 a game of 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'd like. There are some hairdressers close to Xuan Khanh market and Quang Duc Pagoda. Depending on the shop, it can range from very stylish and airconditioned to a very local place (kinda dingy) - you might pay betweent US$4.50 to US$9 (VND100,000 to VND200,000 (Aug 2016)). Ask beforehand 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. The way they do it here is, they cut first and wash your head afterwards. Go for it!
- Start the evening with a manicure and get your nails polished in one of the manicure shops. Several are on Nguyen Viet Hong Street (a nice street lined 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 definitely a cultural experience.
- If you are with children, be creative and paint small ceramic figures in one of the bigger bookstores, usually on the upper floor. The fee is very small, and you can take them home afterwards as a souvenir.
- Visit the local Pagoda and Church
- Experience Vietnamese service in a local church. Around 6.8~10% (6~10 million) of Vietnamese are Catholic. There are two churches on Mau Than Street. Because of the hot weather, service is usually in the evenings. The Sunday service starts at 6:30 pm.
- Light an incense stick and offer a prayer for your family in a Buddhist temple. See huge crowds of traditionally dressed Buddhists flocking to the temples at weekly Buddhist services. The Quang Duc Pagoda on Mau Than Street is very popular.
- Enjoy the view over the city in the evening from Nguyen Trai Bridge.
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, .
- Vo Truong Toan University, .
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,also they have the biggest supermarkets Big-C(movie,KFC....)( Hưng Phú,Cai Rang district)
- 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. Google maps location.
- Phuong Nam Restaurant (Good food, good feeling), 48 Hai Ba Trung (across Ho Chi Minh statue, near Ninh Kieu park), ☎ 07103812077 ([email protected], fax: 07103812077), . 10:00-22:00. Special in this restaurant is snake and crocodile, chicken in clay pot with vodka, one of the best restaurant in Hai Ba Trung, price from 40.000VND to 130.000VND Cheap.
- Burger King, 1 Hoa Binh street, Tan An, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho City (It's at roof 3 of Sense City Mall, the tower opposite Ninh Kieu 4 restaurant), ☎ 0710 3819 624. 3000 VND- 150.000 VND.
- Chao Long Vit Xiem (Yummy local style rice porridge soup), Mau Than street Hem 95 (Opposite Quang Duc Temple Pagoda in Mau Than Street at the corner of Hem 95). 10:00 - 24:00. This local place offers two tasty types of porridge (congee): Pork chitterlings and muscovy duck. Scary as they may sound, but the restaurant is one of the oldest ones on in town serving those local dishes. Cheap.
- Mi Vit Tiem – Mien Ga (24h local street restaurant with braised duck soup), Mau Than streete (you find the restaurant opposite Mien Tay hotel and petrol station). 24h. This is a street restaurant that is opened all night long. The speciality here is Braised Duck in Egg Noodle Soup - “Mi Vit Tiem Cheap/50.000VND per soup.
- Mau Than Bun Bo Hue (Located next to a gas station, but one of the best spicy Hue style Beef Noodle Soups in the city), Mau Than street (next to the petrol station). until 22h. While the location is not the best, the Spicy Hue style Beef Noodle Soup - “Bun Bo Hue” - is definitely very popular and attracts a lot of locals. Cheap/27.000VND per soup.
- Char Siu bread (nice roasted bread), Mau Than street (next to the corner of 1A alley). until 22h. "Special combo of bread and Xa Xiu, Xa Xiu literally means "skewer roast" (char being skewer (both noun and verb) and siu being roast) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. Average cost is 10.000VND (0.5USD) per roasted bread.
- 30A Restaurant (Nice place for evenings and midnight snacks, if you want to experience local food on a budget. The place has backyard and an open restaurant with roof, but most people just like to sit in front near some plants.), 30A, Mau Than Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho, Vietnam (Coming from Xuan Khanh market head towards the university at Mau Than street and continue over the big intersection. It is a bit after the big Cara cafe sign on the right of the street. You will see people sitting on the outside in the light at night.), ☎ 0710 3 834 767. Opening hours: Midday to 1am or later. This is a nice place, where people like to come in the evening. Many budget travelers like the complete dishes like beefsteak with fries and a bit of salad for about 2 USD Cheap/average cost or cost per dish 40-60k VND (2-3 USD).
- Mien Tay Tuu Quan (Specialty dishes of the mekong delta), Mau Than street (The restaurant is a bit set back from the street and located in a garden like house. You enter the area in Mau Than Street next to the petrol station.), ☎ 07103731977. 9h - 22h. This is a restaurant that serves predominantly Vietnamese food and specialty dishes of the mekong delta, fresh fish and seafood.
- Phuong Nam (Phương Nam), 48 Hai Bà Trưng (left in the middle of the Ninh Kiều pier, near the statue of Uncle Ho), ☎ 0710 3812077 ([email protected]), . 10:00 - 23:00. Seated a classic building facing the river, the 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.Specially are snake meat and crocodile. Also a great choice of good vegetarian food.
- New Delhi Indian Food, 128 Hai Bà Trưng (The restaurant is located at the Ninh Kieu pier). tasty and authentic Indian food, also lots of vegetarian dishes 5$/meal.
- Dog meat (Thịt cầy Trần Văn Hoài, ngon hết biết)
- Duck soup (Vịt nấu chao Hẻm 1, ngon hết sảy)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Muah Bar, 27A Le Thanh Ton, Ninh Kieu (From Ho Chi Minh's statue, head straight down to the clothing market area, make the first turn on the right when you see the yellow pagoda, Muah Bar is now a few steps away.), ☎ +84(0)907 80 50 30. opened 7:00AM until late. A small cozy bar in central city where you can find cheap drinks. The bar offers a wide range of cocktails and spirits that you may not be able to find elsewhere in Can Tho. All the cocktails are made with international standard recipes to ensure the consistency but sometimes they are creatively adjusted and added with local ingredients of the season to make them more distinctive. $1 beer, $2-$3 cocktail.
- Missy Cakes & Cafe, 233/4 Nguyen Van Linh St, Hung Loi Ward, Ninh Kieu District (next to Hung Loi's Bridge), ☎ +84(0)932 862 168. opened 6:00AM until 9:30PM. Missy Cakes & Cafe, the only upbeat place where you can truly enjoy delicious cakes made with international bakery standards. Drinks are mixed with passion by their own with many varieties of flavors to choose from. Apart from the cakes and coffee, the place boast a very classy style look cafe with some retro designs on the wall. Air-conditioned and a nice greenery looking courtyard with many big mekong fishes in their pond.A hideout if you are feeling hot in the Mekong.
- Tiny Corner Cafe (A young confident Vietnamese-lady-run cafe where you can enjoy acoustic music performances by student singers and meet interesting young people who speak English.), 14/7 Lý Tự Trọng. (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), ☎ +84 (0)9399 410 89 ([email protected]), . opened until late. Offers alcoholic drinks including spirits, mixed drinks, and cocktails. Activities at Tiny Corner include: English Speaking Happy Hour (Mon, Thurs), American Culture Club (Tue), English Live Acoustic Shows (Sat, Sun), etc. Shows start around 7:00PM.
- Cara Cafe (Beautiful Movie Cafe with best movies in town), 10 Mau Than, An Nghiep, Ninh Kieu, Can Thơ. (drive from Xuan Kanh Market straight ahead and cross the next big street. On the right hand side you see a big sign Cara Cafe), ☎ +84 710.3734.434, . until 23h. Like relaxing atmosphere and watch a movie, Cara is the best movie place in town. They also have movie nights where people decide what film to watch. moderate prices.
- Café Hợp Phố (6 Ngô Gia Tự, close to Nink Kiều pier) offers quiet places in a green and nature atmosphere. Lot of drinks and meals available at good prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other locations are: 124 30/04 Street, and 164 - 166 30/04 Street (this one has a football field, and it is across the street from Can Tho College).
- 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.
- Cafe 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.
- 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.
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.
- Thao Anh Guest House (1/79 Lý Tự Trọng str.,), (Located in an alley famous for HOT POT. From Ly Tu Trong Street enter Hem 1 close to Luu Huu Phuoc Park.), ☎ phone +84 939 275 114 ([email protected]). Price from 8$ and 9$ for room with private bathroom and hot shower, some rooms also offer a balcony. ( the cheapest guest house with big room in Can Tho). Young staff speak really good english and friendly, They also know well how to get around, helpful on booking bus tickets ( no commission) The guesthouse has scooters & bicycles for rental. highly recommended for Mekong Tours by small boat ( Floating Markets). ".
- Mekong Delta Inn, Mekong Delta Inn 175A Nguyen Van Cu st, An Hoa, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho, ☎ +84 0123456.1758 ([email protected]). The hostel is located a bit out of the town center in a great local area. Pickup from/to Bus station is free. Hostel rents scooters & bicycles. Very helpful and friendly staff (really good english)! 6bed dorm rooms with aircon + fan. Price include breakfast & 1 free beer daily US$7.
- Nam Mon Budget Design Hotel (Awarded Traveler's Choice 2013 on Tripadvisor), C233/4 Nguyen Van Linh St, Hung Loi, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho City, Vietnam (The hotel is located on Nguyen Van Linh Street. It is within 10-minutes walk of 91B highway and the Can Tho Bus Station, 15 minutes walk to the City Centre.), ☎ +84 (0)710 6250 866 ([email protected]), . checkin: 1400hrs; checkout: 1200hrs. Nam Mon Budget Design Hotel, situated at the beginning of the city center of Can Tho, is quiet, clean and friendly. 24 hour front desk ‘Local Ambassadors’, plugged into the local community, are there to give you access to all that Can Tho and the surrounding destinations has to offer. The Hotel also organize its own in-house tours such as the floating market tours, countryside & city food tours and inter-vietnam tours. Mountain bike, car and motorbike rental are available at the hotel's lobby. US$15/$20/$25. (10.01864837278313,105.77059507369995)
- Hien Guest House II, 106/3 Phan Dinh Phung Street Can Tho city (located just down a tiny alleyway from 1st hotel), ☎ Home Phone 0710812718. Cell phone 0913973320 ([email protected]). It is a family run establishment with friendly staff. The rooms are clean and tidy as are the bathrooms. They also organise well priced tours of the river. 150,000 for fan room 210,000 for air conditioned room.
- Nha Khach So 10 (Guest house 10), 10 D.Thu Khoa Huan, Phuong Tan An, Q Ninh Kieu, Can Tho city (This is a few doors down a small street opposite the Ho Chih Minh statue, there is a Westerised bar on the corner.), ☎ 0946 886 669, 0907 627 669. checkout: 12 noon. This is a small family-run place. It's basic but very well located. There's a good co-op supermarket just nearby. Only the manager speaks some English, but they are really relaxed, friendly and keen to help 180,000 for air conditioned room.
- Hotel Xoai (Top ranked value mini-hotel with roof terrace since 2012), 93 Mau Than Street, Xuan Khanh, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho City, Vietnam (Close to Cantho University main campus and opposite Quang Duc Pagoda.), ☎ +84 (0)907652927 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Young and friendly atmosphere. 23 compact rooms with double or single beds, private bathroom with shower, toilet, fan, AC, phone. Budget option is small. Sueprior and Deluxe rooms bigger and offer additional facilities. 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 commission on bus bookings. US$11/14/20/26. (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.
- Huỳnh Lạc Cần Thỏ (hotel in Can Tho city centre near Ninh Kiều pier), 56-56bis Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, Can Tho, Vietnam, ☎ 07103764579 ([email protected], fax: 07103765579), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Very clean and basic 2 star hotel located within a 5 minute walk to the river. Soft beds, A/C, free fast Wifi and LCD TV. Breakfast is not included. Rooms that end with '3' have a balcony attached. Staff can understand some English and tries their best to answer your questions. Excellent value for money. 195k ₫ for a single/290k ₫ for a basic double/ 445k ₫ for a triple.
- 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.
- Vinh Long - to catch a local bus to Vinh Long wait at a bus stop on the 30 Thang 4 street (ie. near hospital), traffic heading in south west direction (Vinh Long is north of Can Tho but the bus has to cross the bridge first). The bus will take you to the inner bus station in Vinh Long, 5 minutes walk from guesthouses and ferry to An Binh. I was charged 50000 dong (Sept 2015), however I have seen other bus stating the price was 21000 dong.
Help for foreign citizens
Germany and EU (Unofficial support for German and EU citizens in International MBM Office), 93 Mau Than, Xuan Khanh, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho, Vietnam.
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