12.01.-14.01.2018 Can Tho / Mekong Delta
From HCMC we took a Futa Bus to Can Tho in the Mekong Delta. Can Tho is one of the biggest cities of Vietnam and the heart of the delta. Even though it is a big city, we fund it comparatively relaxed though. There is a river promenade which you can walk along without being disturbed by the constant honking of motorbikes. There are also some nice cafes where you can enjoy a cold drink or two. The first afternoon we just spent walking around in town and relaxing.
For the second day, we had booked a boat tour to see the two floating markets of Cai Rang and Phong Dien. The day started early at 5am when we met our guide Hai. The boat took us to Cai Rang first, stopping by a floating cafe bar on the way. It was still dark when the boat lady poured us some coffee, and when we reached the market, the sun was beginning to rise. Cai Rang floating market has more bigger boats trading with each other and the light first made it hard to take some good pictures. Then we got some fresh, hot Pho (noodle soup) – a good start in the day!
We continued further along the river to reach Phong Dien floating market. This was the more photogenic market of the two – and also by now the sun was up, which made for better pictures. They built two towers on each side of the canal, where you can sit upstairs, have a coffee and watch the merchants selling their goods from their boats on the river. And this is exactely what we did! I really liked sitting on the tower terrace since you had a good overview, and it was an ideal spot to take pictures.
When the market started to dissolve, we continued our tour along smaller canals with lots of nice vegetation. It was a very peaceful boat ride – watching life on the canals and admiring the landscape.
Later on, we also stopped by a rice noodle factory and a fruit garden – two rather touristy stops, but nevertheless interesting. We tried our hands on making rice noodles and admired some bright green rice fields at the fruit garden. Our guide Hai made the whole day so much fun and provided lots of interesting information. We could ask him anything, and so we did. At one point, he even sang a Vietnamese song to us while we were floating on the river – quite magical! If you’re interested in booking a tour with him, contact him via his facebook page: Tour in Mekong with Hai’s.
Since we woke up so early, it was only noon by the time we returned to our hotel in Can Tho. While my mum and sister wanted to relax a little, dad and I ventured out to see a bit more of Can Tho itself – and the arrange a little birthday surprise for my sister for the next day! In the city, we walked to a little lake and came across two rather new (but definitely impressive) temples – which reminded us more of Thailand or Cambodia, than Vietnam.
Next day, we had rented bicycles to explore the area around Can Tho a bit by ourselves. But first we had breakfast at Lotus Cafe, where the team had nicely decorated the table for my sister’s birthday and everyone was super friendly and attentive. I think we had two or even three waiters for ourselves! When the cake arrived, we sang a „happy birthday“ and the waiters and other guests joined in congratulating my sister. Definitely a „different“ birthday than usual 😉
Then, we started our cycling tour with the help of Maps.Me. We first went to Binh Thuy to see some old house and temples. We continued our way in a southwestern direction, passing through little villages along the way. I had expected to be more cycling in the nature, but actually the little roads were still heavily used by locals on motorbikes and other vehicles. It was nevertheless a nice tour – took us away from the typical tourist trail and into some areas that rarely see tourists. People were friendly, waving at us, kids shouting „hellooo“. In the middle of nowhere, we stopped at a temple and met a friendly monk, who started explaining every detail about the temple to us – in Vietnamese. I must have done a good job nodding and saying „ok“, since he continued and in the end taught us some kind of temple song. Such sweet random encounters are what makes travelling so great for me!
When we arrived back in Can Tho, we were all a bit tired – the tour had been a little longer than expected and the last part had been on roads with lots of traffic. Unfortunately there was no shower and bed waiting for us – but a sleeper bus to Dalat! After the initial shock about the size of our „beds“ in the bus, I think we all found an ok position to nap a little. Unfortunately, the bus driver kept playing music the whole night, else our sleep might have been a little better…