Can Tho province is the most popular of the Mekong Delta destinations. Thanks to its tremendously fertile soil, it's one of the largest agricultural producers in the Delta, often referred to as Vietnam's rice basket. Along with rice, the province is home to many orchards and farms, and it's the goods from here tourists flock to see in the floating markets dotted around the provincial capital.
Crisscrossed by tributaries and canals feeding water-borne traffic into the Bassac River, the sheer volume and incredible variety of boats and ships never fails to amaze and a trip along the backwaters provides an insight into the rural way of life in this beautiful province.
Home to more than a million people, Can Tho city is the largest in the Mekong Delta region and is the logical hub for anyone planning on exploring its namesake province. Travellers come to Can Tho city to visit the nearby floating markets; Cai Rang is the main market tour operators offer, but others like Phong Dien and Phung Hiep are also worth mentioning.
While the floating markets are highly recommended, the riverfront promenade itself is also pleasant with some good places to eat and relax. Add in a wealth of places to stay, a quartet of pagodas, lively night market, a very well developed and affordable tourism infrastructure and a healthy supply of eateries, and it really is difficult to not justify a visit. If you've got time for just one destination in the Delta, this is where you should be heading.
The province sprawls westwards from the eponymous provincial capital along the southern bank of the Bassac Hau River, the larger of the two branches of the Mekong.
It's bordered to the west by An Giang and Tien Giang provinces, to the south by Hau Giang and to the north, on the other side of the river, by Vinh Long and Dong Thap. The province was actually a municipality before it was given provincial status when it was carved out of the larger original province (also called Can Tho) in 2004. The remainder forms the new province of Hau Giang. This elevated status reflects Can Tho's importance in the region, both as a trading and transportation hub and as home to the Delta's largest city.
While Can Tho city is very large compared to its neighbouring provincial capital cities, it's very manageable. However, traffic can be a bit manic and it's best to leave the driving to the locals. Most of the hotels and guesthouses targeting travellers are located in the southeastern part of the city. Hai Ba Trung is the main riverside strip and most accommodation can be found from Ngo Duc Ke to the south to Ngo Gia Tu in the north and Phan Dinh Phung to the west. ATMs are scattered throughout the city. The most central are two next to each other on the corner of Hai Ba Trung and Ngo Quyen.
By Vinh Dao.