Bordering Cambodia, An Giang province is best-known for being home to pastel-painted Chau Doc, the closest large town to the Vietnamese/Cambodian border crossing on the Mekong River. Wedged between the Cambodian frontier, Kieng Giang and Can Tho provinces to the south and Dong Thap province to the north, An Giang is a particularly riverine province, with both the Bassac and Mekong Rivers within its boundaries.
The nondescript provincial capital Long Xuyen lies around 50km southeast of the border with Cambodia. Some travellers may find it convenient to pass through here for its transportation connections but there are otherwise few other reasons to stay in the capital.
Chau Doc sits at the junction of a tributary linking the Bassac and Mekong Rivers and the Bassac River itself. An incredibly friendly and bustling little city, it has a colour scheme to match its ambience, with bright pastel hues of green, blue and purple adorning many of the newer shopfronts. If you're arriving here from Cambodia, be prepared for the shock into technicolour paradise.
Chau Doc locals are known for being very warm and approachable -- even the xe dap loi drivers, as pestering as they are, are friendly. English is spoken in most of the foreigner-targeted guesthouses and hotels, and most restaurants have an English menu.
A highlight of a visit to Chau Doc is a boat trip on one of the small paddle boats that collect near the western end of the park. For a few dollars an hour they'll paddle you around the many floating raft houses and fish farms. Doing this at dawn can be very photogenic and rewarding.
By Stuart McDonald.