Located near the mighty Hau River, the southernmost tributary of the Mekong River, Can Tho is a charming gateway to the Mekong Delta. Can Tho is also the largest city in the province as well as a commercial hub in the south. Thanks to the fertile soils nourished by the maze of tributaries, canals and rivers here, Can Tho produces a large number of agricultural products. In addition, the surroundings have beautiful orchards and gardens. Here, you will have the opportunity to taste the best exotic fruits of Vietnam!
One of the essential activities is the visit to a floating market, an unforgettable experience during which you will see the Vietnamese trade in a unique way in the world, over the water…
Check out our guide to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta!
Where is Can Tho located?
The province and the city of the same name are located in the heart of the Mekong Delta. Can Tho is 34 km from Vinh Long, 51 km from Sadec and 168 km from Saigon. It is the center of the Mekong Delta due to its location but also the most important political, economic and academic center south of Ho Chi Minh City.
How to get to Can Tho Vietnam?
Can Tho is the easiest access from Ho Chi Minh City by car or bus. Located just 170 km southwest of Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a direct bus which takes around 3.5-5 hours. A bus ticket to Can Tho costs around 120,000 VND to 200,000 VND depending on the bus companies.
You can book direct flights to Can Tho from Hanoi, no flights from Ho Chi Minh are available.
Map of Can Tho
What to see in Can Tho?
The inhabitants live mainly from river activities, rice cultivation and trade. A lively and friendly place, it is a good starting point for visiting the Mekong Delta. A very beautiful market occupies a large part of the main street, on the banks of the Mekong and a boat trip allows you to admire landscapes of rice fields and orchards, the natural riches of a region that is still very poor. You can see pretty canoes, rowing boats, and small river fishing boats, which makes the place lively and friendly to travelers.
Stroll on the quay
Ninh Kieu Wharf is located in the city center, on the bank of Hau River, which is the gateway to experience the floating markets and orchards of Can Tho, creating a symbolic scene of the harmonious life of the Mekong people. The quay is also the city’s main shopping center which gets quite busy after dark.
In the same area, Ninh Kieu Night Market is the best place to go out in Can Tho after dark. The night market attracts locals and tourists alike with its great souvenirs, delicious street food, and walking street. From the market, you can enjoy the Hau River illuminated with twinkling lights. Food in Can Tho is generally cheap, and at Ninh Kieu Market, you can enjoy local delicacies at your leisure.
Chua Doi Pagoda
In the surroundings, Soc Trang (65 km south of Cân Tho), deserves a stop for its Khmer Chua Doi pagoda. Known as the “temple of bats” it is the most beautiful in the region.
Visit the exotic gardens in the surroundings
At the cost of a short car trip, you will have the opportunity to experience the bounty of nature and the peaceful atmosphere of a garden located on the bank of the Can Tho River. Tourists can easily get to My Khanh Tourist Village by road or waterway via Cai Rang Floating Market.
floating houses in the Mekong delta
In the surroundings of Can Tho, you will see particular dwellings in height. Local residents have adapted to a large amount of water by innovating floating houses and floating markets. Due to this floating lifestyle, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam has intrigued not only foreigners but also local travelers who wish to explore this interesting way of life.
Cai Rang Floating Market
The most famous attraction in Cantho remains the Cai Rang floating market, which attracts almost as many tourists as traders!
Cai Rang Floating Market is the most iconic floating market not only in the Mekong Delta but also in all of Vietnam. In recent years, Cai Rang has become even more worth visiting, although you might find the market quite touristy.
Located just 5 kilometers from Can Tho city, it takes you only 30 minutes from Ninh Kieu wharf by boat. Cai Rang Floating Market has existed for over 100 years, making it one of the oldest cultural practices in the Mekong Delta. If you miss the market on your trip to Can Tho, you are surely missing the essentials here.
Go there very early in the morning (6:00 am) if you want to see the wholesalers doing their business. Cai Rang mainly sells agricultural products such as fresh orchard fruits, vegetables and various foods. Here you can see life on the water so vividly. The people here are so adapted to river life with their boathouse where they have everything they need on the water. Unlike your normal markets, people aren’t shouting about what they’re selling, but instead, to educate shoppers about the products, they hang one product of each type on a bamboo pole. Of course, only those can be hung.
How to get to Cai Rang Market:
From Ninh Kieu Wharf Tourist Port 1 (Hai Ba Trung Street), you can easily buy a boat ticket to visit Cai Rang Floating Market. There are two types of boats: the large boat has 15 seats and is covered while the smaller can accommodate 2 to 4 people and has no roof.
Video floating market and surroundings of the delta
Where to stay?
As the capital of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho offers a good range of accommodation, mostly located on Hai Ba Trung Street. There are a few luxury hotels, but also spacious hotels and hostels that can offer a great stay with several services such as Mekong tours and floating markets.
Best time to visit
April to May is the best time for tropical fruits to be picked. The climate is the most comfortable and the rains are light. However, the weather is good throughout the year in southern Vietnam!
Can Tho Festival
Lunar New Year
It usually falls in late January or early February, greeted with Tet celebrations in Can Tho, as in all of Vietnam. Tet preparations see local people busy with the preparations and many makeshift stalls pop up selling bundles of shiny Tet gifts or peach trees and kumquats. Can Tho City celebrates the festival with parades and fireworks that bring the city to life with music and color. Locals and tourists alike will enjoy the community spirit and cultural events in the days leading up to Lunar New Near.
The new year is also celebrated by the Khmer community of Can Tho. Usually falling in mid-April, the Chol Chnam Thmay festival takes place over three days. Every day has a different name and different rituals, but throughout the holidays, people love to get together with their families and enjoy feasts of delicious food.
Lang Ca Ong
It is a celebration to give thanks to the whales, it is important throughout Vietnam but even more so in fishing areas such as the Mekong Delta. The festival takes place in the third lunar month and people make peace offerings and pray to the whale gods to show their appreciation for keeping them safe on the waters.
It takes place at the beginning of March, it is another dynamic moment in the city of Can Tho. Lively parades rock the streets as explosive fireworks light up the night sky.
Tet Trung Nguyen
The 15th day of the 7th lunar month is one of the busiest days for temples and pagodas in Can Tho. Known as the Hungry Ghost Festival or Ghost Day, this celebration is a time for people to pay their respects to the deceased. The festival involves making offerings of food and clothing to ancestors and burning incense.
The epic center of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is the largest city in the region and now looks like a metropolis. As the political, economic, cultural and transport center of the Mekong Delta, it is a bustling city with a bustling waterfront lined with sculpted gardens, an attractive mix of narrow lanes and wide boulevards, and perhaps the greater concentration of foreigners in the delta. It is also the ideal base for the nearby floating markets, the main draw for tourists who come here to boat along the many canals and rivers leading out of town.
Can tho represent the Mekong delta and its riches very well! You can of course add other stops to smaller villages to deepen your discovery of this somewhat magical region. Ben Tre, My Tho and Vinh Long are smaller towns with a certain appeal!