Upon arrival in Can Tho, approximately 3.5 hours by bus from Ho Chi Minh City, I decided to immediately head for riverside, naturally where most travellers gravitate and explore the streets, night market, temples, and shops in the area. I also wanted to investigate hiring a boat for a tour the next morning.
Some of my best and fondest memories of traveling are seeing a place for the first time. It’s always exciting getting familiar with unknown territory. Night markets, cafes, fruit stands and Ho Chi Minh statues are not much different from one end of the country to the other but the settings are as well as the people and local culture.
Throughout Vietnam you will find a mostly friendly attitude towards foreigners, from outgoing to reserved but friendly. In Can Tho and I believe much of the Mekong River Delta region locals are very hospitable. I was setting up my camera crouched on the side of a street one afternoon when behind me a friendly older man had brought out a plastic chair for me to sit on.
Vietnam has a plethora of famous cities and destinations that are highly recommended by guide books and travel experts from the centers of commerce, arts, and politics like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, to the picturesque and historic cities of Hoi An and Hue.
Can Tho is certainly a favorite of mine now. It doesn’t have the same charming and historic atmosphere of Hoi An but it also doesn’t draw excessive crowds and with the exception of the “boat ladies” who aggressively sell boat tours, is not hyper-focused on tourist wallets.
Two or three days of hanging out in Can Tho, taking in some river excursions and visiting local temples and sites would be a wonderful diversion from the big cities and tourist towns. Tasty cheap local food, like 60 cents for a big bowl of noodles, a fantastic selection of tropical fruit, and simple street side cafes in a wonderfully laid back environment will have you contemplating retirement if not here, somewhere in Southeast Asia.
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