175km (109 miles) SW of Ho Chi Minh City; 104km (65 miles) SW of My Tho; 75km (47 miles) NW of Chau Doc
With a population of over two million, Can Tho is the largest city on the Mekong Delta and the fifth-largest city in Vietnam, just behind Danang. Set at a confluence of two smaller Mekong tributaries (the Hao Giang and the Can Tho rivers), it makes a great base for canal tours to the surrounding countryside. Can Tho's quaint riverside location has given rise to a few new semiluxe hotels, and it has become a popular honeymoon destination for Saigon couples. A visit to the floating markets, the city's massive central market, or outlying riverside towns is memorable. Travel in and around Can Tho is best arranged with a tour group or good private guide who can take you to all the right places: the impressive floating market, rice-paper-making and weaving villages, small factories, and picturesque rural canals.
A fine park on the riverside promenade showcases a large, shiny statue of Ho Chi Minh overlooking the busy water's edge and large neon advertisements for local beer -- would he approve? Check out the small Chinese Temple across from Ho Chi Minh's statue, a good example of the places of worship for Can Tho's large Chinese community, who faced heavy recrimination in the late 1970s when China and Vietnam butted heads over Vietnamese involvement in Cambodia. At press time, the city was also putting the finishing touches on a large covered riverside market.