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CAN THO CITY

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Vietnam has two big deltas, the Red River delta in the North, and the one we talk about here is Mekong in the South, this Mekong delta region is formed by the various tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which begins its journey to the sea in Tibet and winds its way for 4500 km through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Southern Vietnam. The vietnamese name for the Mekong is Cuu Long which means "nine dragons" and this is represented by the nine exit points of the Mekong River as it flows into the sea. The land of the Mekong Delta is renowned for its richness. Known as Vietnam's breadbasket, it produces enough rice to feed the entire country with a sizeable surplus leftover. Take a sampan ride that meanders through small villages and experience the simple lives of the Mekong people.
 
Being the capital of the Mekong delta Vietnam, Can Tho is a thriving metropolis with huge streets, little action and loads of mosquitoes. Although Can Tho has its own market by the riverside, where you can get excellent ice-cream, the principal attraction would have to be the nearby floating markets. Being rather industrious, the centre of Can Tho is quite busy and noisy with motorised cyclos roaring up and down the streets combined with throngs of people going about their lives. The riverside can have its quiet moments, but Can Tho is also a burgeoning are a number of pagodas worth visiting, and for the trivia fans, Can Tho is the home to much of Vietnam’s fish sauce.
 
Cai Rang floating market is situated about 8 km from Can Tho by road or a 20 km loop by boat. This market is quite nice and sells a variety of fruit and vegetables and operates from 5 am to 11 am, though the markets are better the earlier you can get there. A cyclo from Can Tho will take about 15 minutes to get to Cai Rang Market. Another market, Phung Hiep market, is 31 km from Can Tho. This is the snake market, selling a plethora of living, wriggling and often poisonous snakes. Pythons and Cobras are sold here by people from the countryside who have caught them by hand, whilst others have come to purchase snakes for restaurants, medicinal reasons or personal consumption. This market is open from 5 am to 5 pm. If travelling by boat, you can add a dimension to your day by stopping and visiting some of the fruit gardens, which sell pineapple, rambutan and papaya amongst many other fruits.
GEOGRAPHY
Can Tho City is located in the center of the Mekong Delta. It is contiguous to 5 provinces: An Giang on the north, Dong Thap on the north-east, Hau Giang on the south, Kien Giang on the west, and Vinh Long on the east. Can Tho has a complex of rivers and canals such as Hau, and Can Tho rivers, Thot Not, O Mon canals. Among them, the Hau River is considered a benefactor of this region, since yearly floods deposit large quantities of alluvia to the rice fields. Thank to that Can Tho becomes "the green lungs of the Mekong Delta". The climate is harmonized with few of storms. It is hot, humid all year. Rainy season lasts from May to November, and dry season lasts from December to April. The annual average temperature is 27ºC.
WHAT TO SEE ?
Mekong River Cruises
Most people come to Can Tho to get on a cruise of the Mekong Delta and there are various options available. Two of the best known are the Mekong Eyes Cruise and the Bassac. The Mekong Eyes utilises a traditional vessel going to CaiBe, while the Bassac also offers overnight trips to Cai Be, right up to luxury. Numerous small cruise boats tend to be clustered around the statue of Ho Chi Minh and the ferry terminal, close to the tourist information outlet and the Tan Phuoc 3 Hotel, and are often operated by local Vietnamese women.
 
Can Tho Canals
A must-do for all tourists to Can Tho is to get on a tour of its canals. There is a large network of canals around the city and they are also a good way to get around, certainly more relaxing than road travel. You can get on an all-encompassing sightseeing tour on one of the larger vessels or simply hire a rowing boat and go it alone - the latter allows you to take in the main floating markets, as well as the smaller canals. Tours of the canals generally run between 06:00 and 14:00, and take in at least two of the floating markets, as well as a number of canalside attractions and sights.
 
Central Market
Central Market is one of the many markets in Can Tho, being the main market and a must-do. Previously the city's principal market was situated on the Ninh Kieu pier, where a charming old market hall remains. Today it is the aptly named Central Market that draws the biggest crowds, being well stocked with Vietnamese produce by local wholesalers and farmers. Be sure to bargain if you are buying something here, and also leave time to see the gardens and the neighbouring Cai Khe Canal and Xang Canal.
 
Floating Markets
For many holidaymakers visiting the Mekong Delta, by far the biggest attractions are the floating markets, which are to be found on many wide sections of river. The majority of these markets set up early in the morning, to avoid the strong heat of the midday sun, and so are best visited from 06:00 onwards, particularly if you would like to dodge the mid-morning influx of tourists.
 
Can Tho's floating markets are a fundamental part of life in this part of southern Vietnam. It is easy to charter a boat and take to the water from the Ninh Kieu pier, and you can do so by the hour. Cai Rang is the most popular wholesale floating market and is best seen during the morning. Phong Dien is farther afield, while Phung Hiep and Tra On are farther away again, being sited within the Hau Giang and Vinh Long provinces respectively.
 
Can Tho Water Park
Located beside the river in the Cai Khe Ward, off to the north-east of the city centre, is the fun Can Tho Water Park. Southern Vietnam is quite big on these parks, owing to the heat as well as cashing in on the tourist dollar. This particular attraction has a large wave pool and exciting water slides, and is a must for those with kids on a boiling hot day.
 
My Khanh Gardens
Lying just a few kilometres to the south-west of town along the banks of the Can Tho River are the My Khanh Gardens. These 5-acre / 2-hectare gardens are loaded up with exotic fruits and flowers of the region and also come with many species of birds and fish. You can tour the river here, too, and also stay onsite in a communal 'rong house'.
 

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