Can Tho city, a small city under rapid development in the center of the Mekong Delta, is the second place that most travelers to the South of Vietnam should stop after Ho Chi Minh city. Among the five central cities of Vietnam, Can Tho city is an active city but not too crowded and busy like the other ones, which makes it a proper place for those who want to spend their leisure time in relaxation before continue the trip to places around the Mekong Delta like Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Chau Doc or cross the borderline to Cambodia. A quick look at this “Complete guide to Can Tho city” would help planning your trip to this pretty city.
This guide is updated until May 2019, therefore any information after this time needs latest update at the time of reference.
How to get to Can Tho
– Bus/ coaches from Sai Gon
From Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh city), there are a number of coaches and buses to Can Tho city everyday in almost every hour. With the distance about 180 km, it could take 3-5 hours to move from Sai Gon to Can Tho and vice versa. There are also some high-class minibuses (16-seat bus modified into 7-seat bus) that are sometimes called limousines.
Some of transportation service providers:
|Name||Departure (in Sai Gon)||Price||Phone Number (Sai Gon office)|
|FUTA Bus (Phuong Trang)||231 Le Hong Phong street, Ward 4, District 5, Ho Chi Minh city||110.000 VND||1900 6067|
|Thanh Buoi||270 – 272 Le Hong Phong, Ward 4, District 5, Ho Chi Minh city||110.000 VND||1900 1026|
|Loc Phat Limousine||12 Ly Thuong Kiet street, Ward 14, District 10, Ho Chi Minh city||120.000 – 180.000 VND||02923 777 735|
|Vu Linh (Bus and Limousine)||496 Le Hong Phong, District 10, Ho Chi Minh city||120.000 – 180.000 VND||1900 7009|
Most of the buses start from Mien Tay Bus station in Ho Chi Minh city, which is quite far from city center. Thus, they offer free shuttle bus to move from their offices in the city center to Mien Tay bus station.
In Can Tho, it’s a bit different. Most of bus offices are in the City Bus Station, which is over 10 km from the city center. They also offer free shuttle bus to drop you around Can Tho city center.
– Domestic flights from Ha Noi, Da nang, Da lat, Nha Trang, Vinh, Thanh Hoa, Hai Phong, Phu Quoc.
Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air and Bamboo Airways offer domestic flights to and from other cities around Vietnam. Prices vary from routes, time and airlines. Plan you trip ahead and you can get much better price.
– International flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur: AirAsia offer international flights from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, which is quite convenient for those who intend to do a complete trip around South East Asia.
In addition, due to its center location of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is considered the transportation hub to other provinces around the Mekong Delta. Hence, from here, you can easily find buses/coaches or even boats to other places like Ca Mau, Ben Tre, Dong Thap, Chau Doc, Rach Gia, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Bac Lieu…
When to visit Can Tho.
The weather in the South of Vietnam is a bit different from other areas of Vietnam. There are two major seasons: rainy and dry.
– Rainy season: start from May to the end of November. Temperature can sometimes reach 40 Celsius degree while quite humid along with heavy rain (especially in June, July and August).
– Dry season: start from December to the end of April the following year. This time of the year is quite comfortable to tourists due to good weather, not too hot, not too rainy and not too humid. In addition, there are many interesting activities to celebrate lunar new year, which will submerse any visitor into the environment of real local culture.
+ Tet holiday: often falls in February. This new year celebration of Vietnam, like many other countries around Asia, is a good time to see how people end a year and prepare for a new year in colorful and busy pace of life.
Where to stay in Can Tho
Thanks to the development of tourism, hospitality and tourism services is under rapid development. Hostels, budget hotels to luxurious 5-star hotels or resorts are all available for tourists who want to spend some nights exploring the city.
Vinpearl: 5-star hotel by the river.
Address: 209 30/4 street, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
Muong Thanh: 5 star hotel
Address: Area E1, Cai Khe river islet, Cai Khe Ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
Azerai Can Tho resort: luxury resort located on an isolated islet
Address: Azerai Arrival pavilion. No 10 Song Hau street, Cai Khe Ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
Mekong Smile Home: budget hostel right in the city center, 5 minutes walk from Ninh Kieu Quay
Address: 81 Chau Van Liem, Tan An ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city
Xoai hotel: budget hotel
Address: 93 Mau Than street, Xuan Khanh ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city
Moreover, homestays surrounded by green gardens located deep into rural areas are perfect choice for those who want to stay away from crowded, noisy city life and live a local life with locals.
Mekong Rustic Can Tho: 02 Nhon Loc 1, Phong Dien district, Can Tho city.
Nguyen Shack: Ong Tim bridge, Thanh My area, Thuong Thanh ward, Cai Rang district, Can Tho city.
Hometravel Mekong Can Tho: 178c Ong Tiem bridge, Thanh My area, Thuong Thanh ward, Cai Rang district, Can Tho city.
What to eat in Can Tho
– Banh xeo: Vietnamese pancake. A kind of Vietnamese specialties in the South, often stuffed with duck meat, pork, shrimp and it can be served with a lot of kinds of vegetables. A banh xeo of around 30.000 VND should be enough for one person.
– Banh Cong: fried shrimp with rice flour. A kind of Khmer original food made from rice flour, shrimp, mung beans, pork and served with fresh vegetables. Price would be between 15.000 to 30.000 VND.
– Hu tieu: rice noodle with hot soup. The typical rice noodle of the South of Vietnam is mixed in hot soup with other ingredients like pork, chicken, vegetables, hot pepper… Price can be around 20,000 to 50,000 VND.
– Banh mi: bread stuffed with pork, ham, egg and vegetables. It is the most common food for breakfast in Vietnam, which is also among the cheapest and healthiest Vietnamese food. The banh mi stalls are almost everywhere along the streets and corners. You can ask the seller to stuff things like pork, fried eggs, vegetables, chili… Price may vary around 10,000 to 20,000 VND.
– Com tam: broken rice with grilled pork. One of the most common breakfasts in the South of Vietnam, Com tam can be easy to get from shops along almost every street and corner. Besides grilled pork and broken rice as the main part, other ingredients can be added like pork skin, eggs, Vietnamese meatloaf, chicken…. Price could vary from 15,000 VND for a street vendor to 40,000 VND for a good shop.
– Lau mam (hotpot): A special kind of hotpot, which can only be found in the South of Vietnam. Containing catfish, bacon, shrimp, squid, and the main part is the broth, which is made from salted fish. Served with a variety of vegetables, a hotpot is enough for a family of four people.
– Definitely, tropical fruits should be the most typical food in this city. Taking a walk around a local market or wandering along the streets, it’s so easy to find a number of fruits like coconut, dragon fruit, papaya, mango, pineapple, longan, mangosteen, durian…. Don’t get lost in this paradise of fruits.
What to do in Can Tho
– Visit Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating market: An early trip to explore Cai Rang floating market, the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta, is the first thing that 100% of visitors do when coming to Can Tho. With its nearly original condition and function, Cai Rang floating market is a good place for you to understand the life of the inhabitants in the South of Vietnam. Phong Dien floating market, which is a bit far from the city center and needs more traveling time on the river than Cai rang floating market, is much smaller but has fewer tourists than the first one.
– Visit fruit orchards/ gardens: with almost perfect condition for agriculture, the Mekong Delta is the land of fruits and vegetables. The limitless diversity of fruits all year round would satisfy any fruit-lover. Rent a motorbike or a boat, maybe accompanied by a local guide, and you’re all set to try a variety of seasonal tropical fruits.
– Visit Ong pagoda: located by Ninh Kieu wharf, Ong pagoda is one of the oldest Chinese temples in the city while still maintains the original structure and its operation as in the first day of establishment.
– Visit Binh Thuy ancient house: about 7 km from Ninh Kieu Wharf, Binh Thuy ancient is a good place to learn about the life of a local landlord in the past. With the combination of Asian and French architecture, the house has been a valuable evidence throughout the history of the city.
– Take a boat tour to small canals: Besides the floating market and fruit gardens, a boat trip deep into the small canals would be a special experience for anyone to discover the Mekong life. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to take luxurious overnight cruise trips to get the experience. Instead, a 3 or 4 hour-tour on a sampan (small boat) , which is really inexpensive at less than 100 USD, would be the best economical way for a morning or an afternoon. The sampan driver may stop at a brick kiln, let you have a short walk on the village path along the canal or take you through green shadows.
– Take a tour to Son Islet: The Son islet is an isolated land in the middle of the Mekong river, where people still keep most of their traditional life. A half day or a full day trip to the islet is a good chance to understand the people in the Mekong while visiting floating fish farm, tasting traditional cakes and tropical fruits prepared by the islet locals.
– Take a walk at night markets: There are two big night markets in the city center, one is on Nguyen Thai Hoc street and the other is on Tran Phu street. The one on Nguyen Thai Hoc street is mainly for cheap fashion and clothing accessories. The one on Tran Phu street is for street food where you can find seafood with quite good price.
– Traffic in Can Tho city is much different from crazy big cities like Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh city. Fewer cars and bikes, less traffic jam, drivers seem calmer and most of them follow traffic lights. However, for those who come to Vietnam for the first time can find it a bit confusing and need some time to get familiar with the traffic here. Crossing the streets is the first thing to know when coming to Vietnam.
First thing to do is to keep eye contact with the drivers going towards you to make sure they see you. Keep crossing the streets slowly and steadily. Waving hands is also a good tip to attract the drivers’ attention. Don’t rush if you don’t want to be hit by a fast driver. When getting eye contact with you, drivers may or may not slow down their speed, but they will change direction a bit and avoid hitting you while getting close to you.
– Language: Vietnamese is of course the national language. Besides, English is the most common foreign language, especially in big cities like Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city. A part of older generation, around 60 – 70 years old, can speak French. However, in rural areas, be prepared to meet locals who never know about English or a foreign language.
– Gestures: Understanding Vietnam culture, as well as culture of other countries, thoroughly requires a lot of time and delicacy. Nonetheless, some knowledge of of basic gestures can be useful to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding while staying in Vietnam.
+ Nodding: in most cases, nodding means agreement. In Vietnam, it sometimes means greeting or replace “goodbye” to someone you have known each other.
+ Smiling: Besides the general meaning of “being happy”, smiling in Vietnam also has a number of meanings, depending on situations, such as: agreement, saying “hello”, apology, embarrassment, or sometimes a bit disagreement.
+ Putting hands over shoulder of the same sex: usually a friendly gesture.
+ Shaking head: means “not agree” in general.
– Dress: with hot and humid climate in almost all year round, shirts or dress made from thin and light fabrics would make your time staying here more comfortable. A raincoat and a pair of sandals are highly recommended for those who come in rainy season, from May to December. However, in formal and religious occasions and places, it’s recommended that you cover from neck to feet, while women are able to wear dress that is below their knees.
– Transportation within the city: Can Tho is quite a small city and the traffic is less chaotic than Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city. You can rent a bicycle or a motorbike with the cost of around 100,000 to 150,000 VND/day from your hotel or homestay.
Taxi and xe om (motorbike taxi) are most common transportation in Can Tho. You need to negotiate the price before taking a xe om ride.
The other inexpensive way to move around the city is by using Grab. Similar to Grab bike and Grab taxi, Vato (Vietnamese app) is available in Can Tho city.
Public health and hospital
There are some big hospitals in Can Tho city, including public and private ones. The costs at private hospitals are generally higher than those at public hospitals. However, due to fewer number of patients, the time to wait for the treatment and services in private hospitals are much shorter than in public hospitals. In addition, the private hospitals in Can Tho often connect with international insurance companies, which is quite convenient for reimbursement claim. Checking with the hospital about insurance information in advance is recommended in order to ensure the cover from your insurance.
Here are some public hospitals:
+ Can Tho city general hospital: 04 Nguyen An Ninh, An Lac ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
+ Can Tho central general hospital: 315 Nguyen Van Linh street, An Khanh ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
+ Children hospital: 345 Nguyen Van Cu street, An Binh ward, Ninh Kieu distric, Can Tho city.
+ Can Tho university hospital: 179 Nguyen Van Cu street, An Khanh ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
+ Traditional medicine hospital: 06, 30/4 street, Hung Loi ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
+ Can Tho gynecology and obstetric hospital: 106 Cach Mang Thang Tam street, Cai Khe ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
Here are some private hospitals:
+ Phuong Chau international hospital: 300 Nguyen Van Cu street, An Khanh ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.
+ Hoan My Cuu Long hospital: 20 Vo Nguyen Giap street, Cai Rang district, Can Tho city.
+ Hoa Hao Medic Can Tho hospital: 102 Cach Mang Thang Tam street, Cai Khe ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho city.