A newish town carved from the forests and swamps of the Mekong Delta region, Cao Lanh is big for business, but draws few tourists.
Dong Thap Museum MUSEUM
(226 Ð Nguyen Thai Hoc; 7-11.30am & 1.30-5pm) The Dong Thap Museum is among the Mekong’s best museums, in spite of having no English captions. The ground floor demonstrates an anthropological history of Dong Thap province, with exhibits of equipment , sculpture, models of traditional houses and a few stuffed animals and pickled fish. Upstairs is dedicated to war history and Ho Chi Minh.
War Martyrs Monument
On the eastern edge of town off Hwy 30, the War Memorial (Dai Liet Si) is Cao Lanh’s most remarkable landmark, a sculpture featuring a large white concrete statue of a decorated soldier with flowers in front of a stylised star. The rear of the statue is demonstrated with storks, a image of the Mekong.
Within the grounds are the tombs of 3112 VC who died fighting in the American War.
Tomb of Nguyen Sinh Sac PARK
(Lang Cu Nguyen Sinh Sac; off Ð Pham Huu Lau; car parking 6000d) The grave of Ho Chi Minh’s father, Nguyen Sinh Sac (1862–1929), is the centrepiece of a pretty 9.6-hectare park and model heritage village. The grave itself is set under a shell-shaped shrine set behind a star-shaped lotus pond.
Though various plaques (in Vietnamese) and tourist pamphlets extol Nguyen Sinh Sac as a great revolutionary, scarce evidence reveals that he was involved in the anti colonial struggle against the French. Near the shrine is a tiny museum devoted to Ho Chi Minh including mainly photos with Vietnamese captions.
The construction is set at the southwest heading to town; turn right after Hoa Long Pagoda and follow the fence around until you get to the entrance.
Hoa Anh HOTEL $
(067-224 0567; [email protected]; 40 Ð Ly Tu Trong; r from 210,000d) For 210,000d you’ll get a tidy, small double with a small bathroom at this fresh-faced hotel not far from the bus station. The two-bed rooms are spacious, whereas the pricier rooms are suitable for a family.
Xuan Mai Hotel $
(067-385 2852; 33 Ð Le Qui Don; r 200,000-300,000d) A big restaurant, massage parlour and hotel rolled into one, this serves good value, with large but rather messy rooms. Located behind the post office; rates include breakfast. There is no lift .
Nha Khach Dong Thap HOTEL $
( 067-387 2670; 48 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet; r 350,000-1,000,000d) A Communist Party special, with large, fresh , good rooms, a reception dripping in marble, and corridors wide enough to take a jeep. Still, little English is spoken and it has an institutionalised feel.
Song Tra Hotel$$
(067-385 2624; 178 Ð Nguyen Hue; r US$19-35, ste US$50) The exterior is clunky but rooms are in good shape, with big windows, satellite TV, a minibar and hot water. Staff are more helpful than those in most other state-run places .
Cao Lanh is famous for chuot dong (rice-field rats), so come with room in your stomach to sample the local delicacy. At the very least, it’ll be a very interesting story to tell your friends when you come back home.
Ngoc Lan VIETNAMESE $
(210 Ɖ Nguyen Hue; dishes from 35,000d; 8am-9pm) The ‘Magnolia’ is a happy and various choice, with fresh and delicious pot-cooked pork (35,000d) and mixture of vegetable soup (80,000d). It’s beautiful with a red-and-green LED sign at night.
A Chau VIETNAMESE $
( 067-385 2202; 42 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet; mains 20,000-70,000d) Shut for a refurb at the time of writing, this eatery usually has delicious banh xeo (fried pancakes, which you roll up and dip in fish sauce) as a speciality.
Dong Thap Tourist (067-387 3026; www.dongthaptourist.com; 2 Ð Doc Binh Kieu; 7-11.30am & 1.30-5pm) A particularly friendly, helpful outfit that can arrange a boat and other tours of the surrounding area. It also has a branch (067-391 8487) at My Hiep village.
Post Office (85 Ð Nguyen Hue) Internet access available.
Getting There & Around
Cao Lanh Bus Station (Ben Xe Cao Lanh; 71/1 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet) is convenientlysituated right in the centre of town, with services to HCMC (65,000d), Sa Dec (15,000d), Vinh Long (17,000d), My Tho (30,000d), Tra Vinh (49,000d), Can Tho(45,000d), Soc Trang (55,000d), Vung Tau (112,000d) and Ca Mau (85,000d).
Landscapes around Cao Lanh are best visited by river. Even though you are capable of arrange something privately with boat owners, you’ll find it easier – even though slightly more expensive – to deal with Dong Thap Tourist. Plan on about $30 for a half-day boat tour.