Arguably the biggest drawcard of the delta is its colourful floating markets, hugging the banks of wide stretches of river. Most market folk set out early to avoid the sunlight, so try to visitfrom 6am to 8am and beat the tourist tide. The real tides, however, are also a factor, as larger boats must often wait until the water is high enough for them to navigate.
Some of the smaller, rural floating markets are disappearingbecause of improved roads and public transport, but many of the larger markets near urban areas are still goingrapidly.
Rural areas of Can Tho province, which is renowned for their durian, mangosteen and orange orchards, can be easily got from Can Tho by boat or bicycle.
Sights & Activities
Cai Rang Floating Market
Just 6km from Can Tho in the direction of Soc Trang is Cai Rang, which is the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta. A bridge here serves as a great vantage point for photography. The market is the most lively before 9am, even though some vendors hang out until noon.
It is quite an experience to watch this in full swing, yet it’s well worth getting up extra early to beat the tour-group crowds or travellers may end up seeing almost as many foreigners as market traders.
Cai Rang can be seen from the road, but getting here is much more exciting by boat (US$6). From the market area in Can Tho it takes about an hour by river, or visitors can drive to the Cau Dau Sau boat landing (by the Dau Sau Bridge), from where it takes only approximately 10 minutes to get the market.
Phong Dien Floating Market
Called the Mekong Delta’s best floating market, Phong Dienhas fewer motorised craft and more stand-up rowing boats. Less crowded than Cai Rang, there are also far fewer tourists. It’s at its lively best from 6am to 8am. The market is 20km southwest of Can Tho; most visitors can get here by road.
A boat trip here will require a 3.30am start (return 600,000d), but travellers should arrange it the day before. It is theoretically possible to do a whirlwind boat trip, visiting the small canals on route and ending back at the Cai Rang floating market. This journey should takearound five hours return from Can Tho.
For trips on smaller boats (US$4 per hour), operators can be found along Ð Hai Ba Trung by the river, but inspect boats first; the faster alternative is to take a xe om or taxi and then arrange a boat at the other end.
(admission 20,000d; 5am-6pm) On the road between Can Tho and Long Xuyen, Bang Lang (also called Vuon Co) is an amazing 1.3-hectare bird sanctuary with beautiful views of thousands of resident storks. There is a tall viewing platform to see the storks filling the branches; it’s really an incredible sight (the best times of day are around dawn and dusk).
Bang Lang is in the Thot Not district, about 15km southeast of Long Xuyen. Look for a sign in Thoi An hamlet saying ‘Ap Von Hoa’. From Can Tho the sign is on the west side of the road, right after a small bridge. It is 2 km off the main highway – can be reached on foot within 30 minutes, or tourists can arrange a motorbike taxi for about 20,000d.