Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and also one of the most popular places to visit. You don’t have to worry about getting bored as there are many things to do in Can Tho, such as the famous floating markets, cycling through the countryside, boat trips, orchards and temples.
Top Things to Do in Can Tho
Cai Rang Floating Market
The best thing to do in Can Tho is a visit to the Cai Rang floating market, the largest and most impressive floating market in Vietnam. To see the market at its peak, you need to get up early, because the market starts from 5am and after 10am it has already faded away. The costs for renting a tour boat are between 300,000 to 500,000 VND, depending on the number of people.
Phong Dien Floating Market
Cai Rang may be the best thing to do in Can Tho, but some smaller markets like the Phong Dien can provide a better, more intimate experience. The Phong Dien floating market is much smaller and therefore less visited, but other travelers say that it is therefore a more local experience than Cai Rang.
There are almost no motorized vessels and larger boats, but mostly dozens of sampans trading their local goods while the local vendors shop and gossip. Fewer tourists mean you can easily navigate the market by boat and get up close and personal with the traders who love to chat, laugh and sell fruit. The Phong Dien floating market is at its peak between 5am and 7am.
Boat trip in Can Tho
The most popular way to see the region around Can Tho is by boat trip. The most commonly chosen option is the boats that start early in the morning to go to the Cai Rang floating market.
Most hotels and hostels offer early morning trips to the markets, all varying in quality. The quality ranges from quick trips to Cai Rang and back to half day excursions that go to both Cai Rang and Phong Dien and travel along the backwater channels and visit local villages. The longer tour is recommended as it can give you a better feel for the region. While the markets are the highlight, the peace and tranquility of slowly navigating the backwater canals and the slow pace of life in the surrounding villages is just as delightful.
Bang Lang Stork Garden
The Bang Lang Stork Garden is one of the few places in Can Tho to see the biodiversity of the Mekong Delta wetlands. To see the storks, it is best to go between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM when they are flying out for food or 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM when they return. You can see them sitting in groups on the branches and flying off the trees. It is a quiet and peaceful place in the rural area of Can Tho.
One of the other best things to do in Can Tho is cycling through the beautiful countryside, with peaceful villages. The city may have more than 1 million inhabitants, but you are actually with a short ride in the countryside that completely surrounds Can Tho. That said, it is advisable to seek out accommodation that is already outside the city, because many homestays and lodges here have bicycles to borrow for free.
You can also go out with an experienced guide who will take you on a bike tour. The advantage is that you come to places you never found yourself and you can visit fruit orchards and local factories more easily. Half-day tours, full-day tours and even multi-day cycling tours are available.
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Visit Local Factories & Villages
There is not only culture to be found on the rivers with floating markets, but also next to it, in villages and in the countryside. It is a completely different experience from other parts of Vietnam and it therefore gives you a unique insight into how life goes here. In small local factories you can see how local plants, trees, vegetables and fruit are used to make products. You can see how rice paper is made, candles, rice wine, coconut candies and more.
Instead of a boat trip, you can also get started yourself a bit more actively. You can easily explore the small waterways around Can Tho by kayak. Kayak tours last around 2 hours.
Ninh Kieu Wharf
The wharf itself is beautiful, but it also occupies an important position – it is the symbol of Can Tho. At night, don’t forget to stroll around the river’s embankment and observe the authentic local lifestyle.
Can Tho has long been known for its large and small fruit gardens and orchards that supply fruit to the markets and are transported by boats to Ho Chi Minh City. Go straight to the largest orchard gardens around Can Tho, such as My Khanh, 9 Hong or Vam Xang. Get ready to immerse yourself in the lush gardens, admire tropical fruits you’ve never encountered before, and of course eat them! You cube the fruits with your own hands and what makes the experience even better.
Trick Lam Zen Monastery
The largest monastery in the Mekong Delta, located in a quiet municipality and is over 38,000 square meters! The architecture of the monastery is inspired by the Ly – Tran Dynasty period, which was about a thousand years ago. Because this building is so important, the materials to build the monastery were also carefully selected. Just take a look at the 800-year-old wood. The monks here are super hospitable, and during their meals you can stop by their restaurant to try authentic vegetarian Vietnamese dishes for free.
Markets in Can Tho
There are a number of night markets in Can Tho that you can visit with delicious dishes. Start with Tran Phu and Can Tho Market, then on to Tay Do Night Market which is located in Can Tho, and end at Ninh Kieu Night Market. Afterwards you can burn some calories and enjoy the nightlife of Can Tho right at the Ninh Kieu wharf.
Chua Ong Pagoda
Opposite the Ho Chi Minh Statue in Ninh Kieu Park is the small Chua Ong Pagoda, built in the 1890s. This was a secret hideout for communist revolutionaries during the Vietnam War. Now the pagoda is considered a national monument. It is worth seeing, if only for its artistic merit, with its altars.
How to get to Can Tho?
Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and centrally located and the infrastructure has expanded enormously in recent years. For that reason, the city is easily accessible by car, bus and plane.
Bus from Ho Chi Minh City
If you plan to visit Ho Chi Minh City before traveling to Can Tho, it is best to get on a bus as there are tons of transport services to this city. The total journey time from Saigon to Can Tho is only about three to five hours, depending on traffic. You can book tickets in advance or at the bus station.
Fly to Can Tho
Can Tho has a domestic airport, with which you can easily reach the city from other places in Vietnam. There are direct flights to and from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Phu Quoc by Vietjet Air, Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways. Flight prices start at as low as $ 50.
Fortunately, the airport is located just outside the city and about 10 kilometers from the center where most of the hotels are located. The best way is to take a taxi from the airport to your destination. Some resorts and lodges might have an airport shuttle.
From and to Phu Quoc
From Phu Quoc you can either take a flight or the fast ferry to Rach Gia (2,5 hours) and from here take a bus to Can Tho. You can also check our tour that can either start or end in Phu Quoc and go via the Mekong Delta: Saigon to Phu Quoc via the Mekong Delta homestay experience.
Suggested Tours in Can Tho
Vietnam Shore Excursions is proud to share our signature Mekong Delta Tours offering exclusive access to unique cultural experiences and special interests. They range from half-day to full-day programmes and can be incorporated into any customized itinerary for a more meaningful and enriching travel experience. Please contact Vietnam Shore Excursions today for your best Can Tho Tours.
- Mekong Delta homestay experience Can Tho & floating markets (private option)
- Saigon to Phu Quoc via the Mekong Delta homestay experience (hassle free traveling through the Mekong Delta to or from Phu Quoc)
- Saigon to Con Dao via the Mekong Delta homestay experience (hassle free traveling through the Mekong Delta to or from Con Dao)
- The Cai Rang floating market tour (group option)
Best time to visit Can Tho
Can Tho has a warm and humid climate all year round, which is very pleasant compared to some other regions of Vietnam. The dry season lasts from December to April, while the rainy season starts around May and ends in November.
If your trip falls in the rainy season, you can enjoy the most fertile period and experience the floating markets at their best. When you travel in the summer you will find yourself surrounded by many kinds of ripe fruit. In fact, summer is the harvest season in Can Tho. In the middle of the fall and full moon of April, there are two major festivals in Can Tho. These are Thuong Dien and Ha Dien. People will organize different types of religious rituals to show their respect and gratitude towards the gods of the land.
Best Hotel in Can Tho
Can Tho is the biggest city in the Mekong Delta, so it comes to no surprise that there is plenty of accommodation to be found. Most hotels are around the river on Hai Ba Trung Street, which is the tourist strip. From here the boat trips also depart to the floating markets and other sights that can be visited by boat.
But for a truly local and authentic feel, which should be part of any Mekong Delta experience, it is recommended to find accommodation outside the city in the countryside. There are several homestays, lodges and resorts. The best is to find one on a river, from where you can also take boat trips directly into the delta and to the floating markets. Although Can Tho is a beautiful city, the experience in the countryside is unique and a good base for cycling tours.
Can Tho Food
You can find almost all Can Tho delicacies at its local floating markets. At Cai Rang Market, look for Bun Rieu Cua, a noodle soup with tomato crab and rice vermicelli and a dumpling/cake made of paddy crab and shrimp paste. The broth is rich with flavors, served with fresh herbs, making it an ultimate breakfast dish.
Get to De Tham Street – Can Tho’s food street to taste what the locals usually have like Banh Xeo (Sizzling Pancake) which is a crispy pancake filled with bean sprouts, green onions and meat. You eat this dish by rolling a piece of pancake in lettuce and wrapping it with rice paper then dipping it into a dipping sauce.
Cong Cake is the most famous Can Tho specialty which you can easily find around the city. However, to truly taste the best Cong Cake in Can Tho, ‘Co Ut’ Cong Cake Restaurant at 86/38 Ly Tu Trong Street, An Cu Ward, Ninh Kieu District.
The restaurant is famous for locals and tourists alike because of the cake’s crispiness and diverse ingredients, including green beans, pork served with a savory dipping sauce.
Travel tips for Can Tho
- Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
- If you plan to spend a night in an eco-tourism area, bring mosquito repellent
- When visiting the floating market or taking river trips, choose reputable providers and boats equipped with lifebuoys and jackets. Safety comes first!
- Can Tho itself is beautiful, but it is also a good place to explore the rest of the Mekong. If you have time, don’t forget to visit places like An Giang, Dong Thap and Ca Mau.
Can Tho is indeed a beautiful, peaceful town in the Mekong Delta with plenty of tourism services you can enjoy here. This river city is a wonderful gateway to the Mekong Delta and shouldn’t be missed on your trip to this part of Vietnam. Contact Vietnam Shore Excursions now and let us know what you are looking for on a Mekong Delta tour!