Ultimate Guide to Can Tho, Vietnam (Updated 2019)

People usually call Can Tho as Tay Do land due to its vast paddy fields, flying fruit trees, and a great network of canals and houses with unique architecture. So don’t miss this chance! Make a trip to this land to gain insight into a dependent life upon the river and along the narrow backwaters.

Can Tho is always waiting to welcome anyone excited to uncover its secrets. It’s time to see the full wholesale market display at Cai Rang floating market and learn many interesting things from this special culture on the Mekong River Delta.

Can Tho at a glance

Can Tho City lies in the lower region of the Mekong River Delta and it takes you about 169km to go from Ho Chi Minh City.

Not just a political, economic and transportation hub of the Mekong region, but Can Tho is also a lively town with a vivid waterfront embellished with several gardens and boulevards.

Come here, and then you get to witness a flawless base for many floating markets – the big draw for travelers who come to try boating along the canals and rivers.

A female local is living a water life in Can Tho
A female local is living a water life in Can Tho

No doubt, Can Tho is an ideal starting point for anyone who has a big interest in exploring the energetic and lively Mekong Delta region in the Southern Vietnam. And it’s also popular for appealing floating markets, temples and amazing food. Waste no time but go there to find out such a maze of waterways that creates the delta.

The best time to visit Can Tho

At the start of the rain season (in April, May, and June), you’re recommended to travel to Can Tho since this is the most pleasant time to visit Can Tho. It only has light rain and comfortable weather, so you and the travelers all over the world can have a great time discovering the river regions or the fruit gardens as much as you want.

Also, you may get interested in some local festivals during this time in Can Tho. It’s when the Southern Traditional Cake Festival held from April 12 to 16 or the Cholchonam Thomay Festival that is held on 13, 14, and 15 March. More importantly, you shouldn’t reach Can Tho in October and November since there would be dangerous storms and floods around this time.

So how about in January? Especially in the evenings, Can Tho gets cold and windy at the same time. And such a condition is the best for your outdoor activities! For example, getting around the floating markets and sightseeing the pastoral beauty of the Mekong Delta region.

Getting around Can Tho

As you see, Can Tho is the second-largest city in Southern Vietnam. So no wonder why it has invested in advancing both transportation and infrastructure quite well. In other words, getting to Can Tho city doesn’t take much effort, particularly when you decide to travel by car, coach, or airplane.

For more detailed materials, check out the information below to select your favorite vehicle:

By air

To arrive in Can Tho International Airport, you’ll need to go 8kms from the city. Here, feel free to choose your preferred one among many domestic flights to Phu Quoc, Danang, Hanoi, or Con Dao Island by Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airway, and Vietnam Airlines. All tickets are available on the website skyscanner.com. Or you can try traveloka.com for the best deals.

By coach

Feel free to make your way down to the delta region after a brief stay in Saigon. It also means that the bus routes going this route are quite plentiful. Choose your favorite among “Ben Xe Mien Tay” (Western Bus Station), Thanh Buoi or Phuong Trang.

Besides, Can Tho bus station generally takes 4kms southwest of the city center as long as you go across Can Tho river. It’s easy to see a lot of coach companies running their departures, and note that your journey possibly takes more hours based on the traffic.

By taxi

Go to take a cab to move from Saigon to Can Tho. It usually costs you from $100 to $130 and generally takes you three hours to get there.

By motorbike

Motorbike is one of the most convenient options for most adventurers. Based on the way of your driving, your journey is a bit quicker by hopping on a motorbike. Happily, there are several rental motorbike agencies in Saigon at a cost from $7 to $15 each day.

By displaying the driving license of any nation, it’s easy to rent a motorbike for you. Even a few rental shops won’t ask for the license, so don’t worry too much about this. Also, once your license is valid in the country, you’re solely covered by the insurance in case of an accident.

Top things to do in Can Tho

Undoubtedly, Can Tho City becomes more appealing in the eyes of the international travelers, especially with its major draw being Cai Rang floating market. There are still many other fascinating things to do while you’re wandering in town and check out below for our top selected things:

1.   Stroll around Ninh Kieu Wharf

Ninh Kieu Wharf, a fascinating spot in Can Tho
Ninh Kieu Wharf, the gateway to the vivid life of Can Tho’s floating markets

Ninh Kieu Wharf is always a popular stopover in Can Tho City, only a few minutes off the city center. Here comes a park standing parallel to Hai Ba Trung Street, one-night market, restaurants, bars, hotels, the statue of Uncle Ho and an amazing view.

Nobody could deny the attractive view of Ninh Kieu Wharf, and such a thing always shows up in the minds of the kids of Can Tho land. If you’ve got an opportunity to get to the city, then don’t ever forget a visit to this great site for a full and enjoyable experience.

Once getting here, ensure to stand at the wharf, then it’s facile to admire Can Tho bridge and silently stand there to watch the peaceful river.

The bridge at that time would stand there beautifully and transparently as the afternoon arrives. This is the best moment for everyone to contemplate the sunlight right at the end of the day.

It gleams vigorously on the surface of the water. Remember to stroll around here so that you can see the entire city, feel the flow of the river, witness the local lifestyle, and obviously, delicious dishes prepared by locals.

2.   Visit and go shopping at Cai Rang floating market

Cai Rang floating market culture.
Cai Rang floating market culture.  Source: templesandtreehouses

When Northern Vietnam gets characterized by vivid fairs and festivals of the mountainous locals, Southern Vietnam is featured by floating markets on rivers. With a special way of selling goods, most floating markets never fail to draw both domestic and international visitors in all Mekong trips of shopping.

Cai Rang floating market is a typical example for that – it’s a gathering place for all people living in the delta to exchange and trade agricultural products, fruits, and food.

They often sit on boats and see them as their main transport to carry out all trading activities. If looking at them closely, you’ll spot that these markets are usually held at the river junction. That’s because the water level won’t be deep, which is handy for all boats to move.

3.   Contemplate Phuong Nam Zen Monastery

Phuong Nam Zen Monastery, the biggest temple in Can Tho
Phuong Nam Zen Monastery, the biggest temple in Can Tho

Lying on an area of four hectares and can contain 500 people, Phuong Nam Zen Monastery is assessed to be the biggest Buddhist temple in the Mekong Delta region. The whole architecture is claimed to follow that of the Ly-Tran Dynasty period 1000 years ago.

The materials used to build it have to be carefully chosen. And not only that, you still see it in the monks here because they’re quite friendly and welcoming. While they’re having meals, it’s alright to stop by their house to try the best vegetarian cuisine for free.

4.   Feel the pain at Can Tho Grand Prison

This site is a crucial site in Vietnam’s history to reach in Can Tho City. According to a reliable source, Vietnamese revolutionaries used to happen in horrible context, with many people being tortured or executed to death within those walls.

Inside Can Tho Grand Prison
Inside Can Tho Grand Prison – Source: Fantaseatravel

During the Vietnam War, the prison was first established by the French throughout the colonial era but then was availed by the South Vietnamese and Americans. Aside from 21 detention chambers, a church, a pagoda, a supervising house, the prison also owns a kitchen.

If you plan to visit Can Tho, then this prison would be among the unique things to do here. Get inside the place, you can see many mannequins depicting exact scenes about what it was actually like in prison.

5.   Taste fruits at orchard gardens 

There’s no way to neglect the tropical fruits in this region. Be ready to visit the biggest orchard gardens in Can Tho, such as Vam Xang, My Khanh, or Phong Dien.

Many Southern fruits in Phong Dien orchard
Many Southern fruits in Phong Dien orchard – Source: dulichmientay

For Phong Dien fruit garden, the tourists can enjoy a pastoral lifestyle in Western Vietnam nature. This is your chance to get away from the bustling and hustling atmosphere of the city.

It brings out the idyllic charm from the orchard gardens that people would fall in love with. Let’s take a breath in the fresh air while relaxing yourself under the shadow of the green trees. Vam Xang is also a perfect site for you to taste different types of fruits, from mangosteen, rambutan, jackfruit, oranges to mangosteen.

6.   Learn the homemade chocolate in Cacao Farm

The typical cacao farm would be from the farm Lam The Cuong family. As stated, his family took cacao seeds back from Malaysia and they learned how to cultivate cacao from a French book. Go to drop in the place by motorbike if you like, and Cuong who can speak English and a little French will take you on a tour of his farm.

5 Best eats in Can Tho to satisfy your appetite

1.   Rat specials

  • 48 Hai Ba Trung Street, Tan An Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho, Vietnam

Yes, you read that! Rat meat is supposed to be quite normal in Vietnam, but in the delta, it’s easy to find it everywhere. The local farmers love to grill them to eat! Rats are quite safe to enjoy since all of them feed on the fields, which is not like those eating garbage.

A lot of kinds of dishes are made from rat meat, including fried rat, grilled rat, rat sour soup, etc. Many visitors agree that the meat is quite rich and moist, even sweet as well. While enjoying the grilled rat tail, grab a glass of beer to gain the best food experience in Mekong region.

2.   Nem Nuong Can Tho

  • 17 Hoa Binh Boulevard, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho, Vietnam

“Nem nuong” (grilled pork rolls) are the tasty staple of Vietnamese cuisine that you shouldn’t skip over. During your stay in Can Tho, it’s very common to see most locals being proud to say that they’ve got their own ‘nem nuong’ version. The porks get rolled with ‘banh hoi’ (rice vermicelli sheets) with some veggies in a rice paper sheet.

"Nem nuong Cai Rang", a specialty of Can Tho City
“Nem nuong Cai Rang”, a specialty of Can Tho City

Next, you can dip the whole food in a soy sauce, which never fails to attract both natives and foreigners to gobble them up. For the best place to taste it, visit Nem Nuong Thanh Van that has long been considered as a favorite site for travelers who are seeking the real and tasty ‘nem nuong’.

3.   Sa Dec-styled noodle

  • 12 Pham Ngu Lao Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho, Vietnam

The highlight of Can Tho specialties here would be ‘hu tiu kho Sa Dec’ (Sa Dec-styled dry noodle). The noodles are the dry, white, long, tender, and chewy rice noodles. Meanwhile, if you want to slurp a bowl of Sa Dec-styled noodle, you’ve got a chance to taste the amazing mix of white noodles, sliced pork liver, and heart with chopped garlic chive, red chili peppers.

A bowl of chewy Sa Dec-styled noodle in Can Tho
A bowl of chewy Sa Dec-styled noodle in Can Tho – Source: Chung Thanh Huy

To taste full of it, you should use chopsticks to stir all the ingredients above up together with the dark sauce. We recommend that anyone visiting this beautiful city must fulfill the empty belly with such flavorful and healthy dry clear rice noodles.

4.   Lau mam or hot pot with fermented fish

  • 89 3/2 Street, Hung Loi Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho

There are three different kinds of ‘mam’ (fermented fishes) used by locals to cook ‘lau mam’. In detail, fermented fish from ‘ca sac ran’ (snakeskin gourami) is usually used to create a more unique smell. Meanwhile, fermented fish from sheatfish is availed to make the dish sweeter and more colorful.

For the broth of lau mam, it’s said to be quite rich, but not too salty with a brown and thickened texture thanks to the lemongrass, chili pepper, and garlic added inside. After completing the broth, the cook tends to get rid of the fish bones by a filter before adding more coconut water to make the food sweeter and more fragrant.

5.   Grilled escargot with green pepper 

  • Corner of Truong Dinh & Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street, nearby Chau Van Liem School

These water snails will be grilled over the hot coal stove after being blended with fish sauce and peppercorn. This food is called ‘oc nuong tieu xanh’ – a popular light food highly favored in the Mekong Delta region. Interestingly, the true attractiveness of this dish would be the fish sauce. While enjoying the snails, you can feel the salty, sweet, and spicy at the same time.

The sweet, crispy, spicy, and fragrant snail dish in Can Tho
The sweet, crispy, spicy, and fragrant snail dish in Can Tho

Go to taste them once, you can feel that it offers a variety of flavor to the snails. Make sure to slurp them up with the sauce as other Vietnamese people always do. Find it easily in any street side seafood stall in the City.

Where to stay in Can Tho, the land of river and fruit gardens?

  1.  Hotel Xoai

  • 93 Mau Than, Xuan Khanh, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho

Nestled on the brink of the city center, Hotel Xoai is assessed to be a perfect place to mingle with your friends and family during your stay in Can Tho. The entire place is not just eco-friendly (since the hot water gets heated by solar power) but it also owns full of facilities for backpackers, including Wifi, free computers, and a collection of movies. Whenever feeling dull, there’s a hammock hung in the roof terrace with majestic views across the city.


Single room –  £8 per night

Double room – £11 per night

  1. Nguyen Shack

  • 185C Ong Tim Bridge, Thanh My Region
A corner of Nguyen Shack homestay in Can Tho
A corner of Nguyen Shack homestay in Can Tho – Source: phuotluon

Go far to the rural area surrounding Can Tho, you would arrive at Nguyen Shack that is indeed a hostel filled with bamboo bungalows. They lie inside a small village nearby Ong Tim River in which each of the bungalows arrives with one hammock hung in the balcony. Therefore, you and your family can relax here and gain more fascinating sights and sounds of the river nearby.

Take a cab to visit some attractions in the center while choosing to stay in this hostel since it’s only 3 miles from the city.


Single bed – £7

Basic room with shared bathroom –  £19

Waterfront bungalow – £42

3.    Muong Thanh hotel

  • Region E1, Cai Khe River Islet, Cai Khe Ward, Ninh Kieu District
The interior design of Muong Thanh luxury hotel in Can Tho
The interior design of Muong Thanh luxury hotel in Can Tho – Source: dulich24

This is one of the most popular luxury hotels in the city for those who demand the finest service. It owns the superior-quality rooms with a beautiful view of the whole city center. The hotel provides Mekong Delta’s special feast at Vien An restaurant or allows you to try margarita with your friends at the bar.


Twin beds & king beds – $53 per night

Triple beds – $65 per night

4.    Arezai hotel

  • Con Au Islet, Hung Phu, Cai Rang Ward, Can Tho

Do you want to escape from the noise and pollution of the city? Azerai will be a special oasis of peace and a comfortable site for you to uncover the secrets of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta area. The courtyard here has a pool for you to swim, and it’s surrounded by restaurants, spas, and villas. Besides, if you want to get around the city, the resort can arrange transportation for you, like an SUV that costs around $150 or 200 one way.

Price: $256 – $355

A fun nightlife in Can Tho

Though the nightlife in Can Tho is not as vivid as Ho Chi Minh City, it still offers a lot of fun activities for you to do.


  • Gemini Pub

34 Bis Le Loi Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho.

  • International Roof Top Bar

93 Mau Than Street, Xuan Ward, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho.

  • Iris Sky Bar

224 30 thang 4, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho.


  • XK Club

108B Tran Van Kheo Street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho.

  • Xe Loi Club

Hau Riverside Park, Bai Cat Zone, Cai Khe, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho.


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