The main draw in Can Tho is the Cai Rang floating market. I think it’s possible to do a one day hit and run tour from HCMC but the market opens before sunrise so to get the most of it you should be there early. You also need a boat to be able to see the market up close, I took the easy way out and booked a tour via my hotel. As it turned out it was just me, the guide and the driver in a small wooden skiff with an outboard. Our boat was a bit slower than the bigger tour boats but on the other hand I got a really personal experience, I absolutely loved it.
The tour over, I relaxed in the hotel for a bit then set off back to Ho Chi Minh city. The entire Mekong delta is criss crossed by little tributaries and canals (you don’t say) and every time crossed one, I could see a couple of ramshackle houses on stilts right on the river bank. I think this is really interesting, the rivers in Europe are so sterile, all walled up with concrete and stone, the houses set back a bit and some kind of walkway by the edge, the Vietnamese version is much more lively.
A good place to see this type of waterfront is the slightly bigger town of My Tho, just an hour or so from Ho Chi Minh city. They even have a couple of boat tours but it doesn’t seem quite as interesting as the actual floating market. If you want a Mekong delta experience but without the hassle of going all the way to Can Tho, a day trip to My Tho is probably a good alternative.
Just a couple of shots of the My Tho waterfront
Mishaps of the day:
- The Honda Win apparently lacks a heat shield for the exhaust so I burned my leg getting off.
- After going over one too many potholes my phone flew out of the holder and landed on the road. Amazingly it survived without a scratch. It was pure luck no-one ran it over but it’s a testament to Samsung’s build quality that it survived the fall.
I also have a piece of advice for anyone doing the same kind of trip: the big roads are straight and smooth, most of the time you can cruise at 60 or 70 kilometers an hour but every now and again you come to an intersection where people and vehicles will be crossing your path every which way, slow down and be safe.
Finally I want to finish with an observation: when you go abroad, the big differences are expected but it’s the little things that really surprise you. For example, today I saw two men standing by the roadside fishing in small, murky ponds. I also noticed a large amount of shoes littering the highway.