Can Tho and around

Can Tho is a large and rapidly growing commercial town situated in the heart of the Mekong Delta. Lying chiefly on the west bank of the Can Tho River, it is the largest city in the delta and also the most welcoming and agreeable. It is the launch pad for trips to some of the region's floating markets. A small settlement was established at Can Tho at the end of the 18th century, although the town did not prosper until the French took control of the delta a century later and rice production for export began to take off. Despite the city's rapid growth there are still vestiges of French influence apparent in the broad boulevards, as well as many elegant buildings. Can Tho was also an important US base.

Hai Ba Trung Street
, alongside the river, is the heart of the town, where, at dusk, families stroll in the park in their Sunday best. There is also a bustling
here, along the bank of the river. Opposite the park, at number 34, is
Chua Ong Pagoda
, dating from 1894 and built by Chinese from Guangzhou. Unusually for a Chinese temple it is not free standing but part of a terrace of buildings. The right-hand side of the pagoda is dedicated to the Goddess of Fortune, while the left-hand side belongs to General Ma Tien, who, to judge from his unsmiling statue, is fierce and warlike and not to be trifled with.

Floating markets

The river markets near Can Tho are colourful confusions of boats, goods, vendors, customers and tourists. From their boats the market traders attach samples of their wares to bamboo poles, which they hold out to attract customers. Up to seven vegetables can be seen dangling from the staffs - wintermelon, pumpkin, spring onions, giant parsnips, grapefruit, garlic, mango, onions and Vietnamese plums - and the boats are usually piled high with more produce. Housewives paddle their sampans from boat to boat to barter, haggle and gossip; small sampans are the best means of transport as they can negotiate the narrowest canals to take the shopper (or the visitor) into the heart of the area. Take at least a five-hour round trip in order to see the landscape at a leisurely pace.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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