I got tons of questions about my Vietnam trip from people planning their own and so I decided to share my notes and opinions on places I visited. My journey started in the capital city of Ho Chi Minh and I made it all the way up north to Hanoi in about 30 days. This is my short guide for the South Vietnam portion of the journey as a backpacker. You will find cool eateries and coffee shops I loved noted alongside the must visit places and helpful insider tips. Remarkable places like Dalat, Mui Ne and The Mekong River Delta will surely make you fall in love with this region.
The town itself is nothing special but I stayed at the Ben Tre Farm Stay and it was a lovely countryside experience filled with beautiful lush plants and colorful flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes. You can take a boat tour down Mekong River, explore the village on a motorbike or a bicycle and visit two little super green islands full of huge butterflies by taking a local ferry. The nearby town, My Tho, is a very popular destination for tourists but I skipped it in favor of the countryside views.
Tip: Check out TripAdvisor to find a Mekong Delta tour that works for you, since there is quite a variety of experiences being offered. There are even full day tours from Ho Chi Minh City available for those who are short on time.
The city itself is quite nice actually, full of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. At night, Can Tho is home to the brightly lit neon floating restaurants, bars and hotels accompanied by loud pop music. You can hop on one of the boats for a fun night out or just enjoy the colorful view from the shore.
Cai Rang Floating Market
I came to Can Tho to see the biggest floating market in Vietnam, but it was somewhat disappointing because it did not look anything like what you see if you google the place. It was still a great experience though and was worth a detour. You can expect waking up before sunrise to take a boat ride to the market, having traditional noodle soup for a very early breakfast sold by a lady in a small boat who attaches herself to yours for about 15 minutes, being taken to a souvenir shop full of useless but cute stuff, being surrounded by locals in small motorboats offering you endless varieties of mangoes and other fruits and witnessing how vital the Mekong River is for the regional economy. Catch a boat to Cai Rang market around sunrise at Ninh Kieu Wharf Marina located in the city center.
Ferry Terminal Ben Pha Xom Chai
In Can Tho, city life is right across the river from the village life. Take a 2-minute local ferry to the other side of town and see how locals go about their day when tourists are not watching. The juxtaposition of massive billboards and tiny fishing boats, children, dogs and chickens running around, is quite an interesting one.
Local Produce Market
Check out the local street market for delicious fruits and veggies. Some of the most flavorful fruits in Vietnam can be found here. The scene changes a bit as you go more north where imported produce from China is also sold, so don’t miss the opportunity to indulge and explore many exotic varieties. Locals at the market do not speak English so just smile, point at what you want, pay and enjoy!
- If in Can Tho, visit Bánh Mi A&T sandwich shop to get your dose of fresh baguette (courtesy of French colonialism) with delicious liver pâté and crunchy cucumbers.
- Grilled Sausage Thanh Van Eatery was recommended to me by locals and it did not disappoint, just don’t go in expecting anything fancy. Try it if you are looking to explore traditional Vietnamese cuisine.
- Lophuong Tea cafe is a perfect place to get your brew. Love this spot for its super friendly service and an option to adjust the sweetness of your beverage by percentage points.
Didn’t have enough time to visit this beautiful place but I hear it’s a gem. Let me know how you like it if you get a chance to go. And check out that infamous Hon Thom Cable Car, the longest cable car ride in the world spanning 7.9km. It comes with breathtaking views of the crystal blue ocean and picturesque islands.