BY ADELINE LEONG
CAN THO may be the largest city in the Mekong Delta, but it still remains unknown to many. The picturesque city is considered to be one of Vietnam’s undiscovered jewels.
A trip to Can Tho is like a journey back to the leisurely life of old, where travellers find themselves slowing down to smell the roses and breathe in the history.
Visit a mall on water
Start your day early with a trip to Cai Rang floating market where you will get a snapshot of local life on a river.
Take in the sights and sounds of the city ‘waking up’ as you float down the river in one of the many barges to be found all along the river and meet the many enterprising locals plying their wares in this floating market.
You can see what they sell by their wares hung high on a pole in their boats and barges. You can also order your breakfast and dine on a boat!
Try local cuisines
There’s no better way to experience living like a local than eating what they eat. Can Tho has a lot of local food to offer, such as bun rieu (crab noodles), bun ca (fish noodles) and hu tieu sa dec (dry noodles).
For a light snack, the cong cake (banh cong) encapsulates the flavours of Southern Vietnam. The cong cake is made up of fried shrimp, fish, mango shoots and covered with smashed baked peas.
This round cake is unique because it’s only eaten in the late evening, from 4pm onwards.
But for those who have the stomach for some ‘exotic’ food, try rat meat. These are not your usual house rodents but rats from the padi fields which have been feeding mostly on a ‘healthy’ grain diet.
This Can Tho’s delicacy is eaten fried or grilled, in soups and curries. Its meat is said to have a sweet taste to it. No part of the animal is wasted, with rat tails taken as a snack with beer.
Admire the architecture
When the sun is at its peak, head indoors and admire the architecture for awhile.
One place not to be missed is the Chua Munirensay. The eye-catching temple is painted in gold, red and white, which makes it an Insta-worthy visit.
This temple differs from other temples because it has retained its architecture and ornate decor from the early Khmer empire. Climbing up the stupa, take note of the handrails carved to resemble the mythical naga.
Watch wildlife in their natural habitat
Take time to venture further afield to catch a fascinating sight. The Bang Lang Stork Garden is a wildlife sanctuary and the only place where you can spot groups of birds such as storks and snowy egrets in their natural habitats.
These beautiful creatures make the sanctuary their home from March to August. Have your camera ready as the birds return from feeding in the late afternoon, flying across the padi fields and landing to perch among the green trees.
Wind down along the riverside
Come night time, head to Ninh Kieu Park. This beautiful park, situated along the river, allows you to quietly observe life in Can Tho.
The park is popular with locals too, so you’ll get to watch talented youths have fun, such as showing off their breakdancing skills.
A five-minute walk from the park and you will find yourself in Phan Chu Trinh, where a huge variety of Vietnamese street food can be had before turning in for the night.