Can Tho (Cần Thơ) is located 169 Km ( 105 miles) south west of Saigon Ho Chi Minh City and is the main economic hub of Vietnam’s Mekong region, the city is sometimes referred to as Tây Đô or western capital.
Population wise Cần Thơ had an estimated population of 1.5 million citizens in 2012, which makes it Vietnam’s fourth most populous cities, the city of Can Tho also gained full Provence status back in 2004.
Can Tho Weather and Seasons
As with the majority of Vietnam Can Tho has two distinct seasons, this is more evident in Can Tho because it is located in the deep south of the country closer to the equator. The dry season runs from December to April and the wet or rainy season runs from May to November.
During Can Tho’s Wet season (May to November) you can expect daily maximum and minimum temperatures to range from 26 C to 34 and monthly rain fall averages of around 270-350 mm
During Can Tho’s Dry Season (December to April) you can expect daily average maximum and minimum temperatures to range from 23 C to 30 C with an average monthly ran fall of around 27mm
Even though the temperature differences between the wet and dry seasons are not significantly different the main factor is humidity because of all that extra rain, therefore the best time to Visit Can Tho as with much of the south of Vietnam is between December and February, because there is little to no rain and the heat and humidity is at its lowest.
Transportation to Can Tho
Can Tho is accessible by road and air with most travellers opting for an express bus if travelling directly to/from Ho Chi Minh City or Cambodia or personally hired mini bus services if travelling around the Mekong area on a more complex Mekong itinerary.
Travel to Can Tho by Bus
Travel to Can Tho by express bus or mini bus on the 169km journey from Ho Chi Minh City Saigon takes around 3 ½ to 4 hours depending on the time of day, time of year and the operator you travel with. The major express bus operators charge between 80,000 – 120,000 Vietnamese Dong (approximately US/AUD $4.00 – $6.00)
The major express bus operators servicing Can Tho as well as most of the Mekong area include:
Mai Linh Express Corp – (08) 38323888 Mai Linh is one of the most popular and visable Transport company in southern Vietnam as well as operating a highly respected (and one of the largest) taxi companies in Vietnam they also operate express bus services throughout Vietnam. The Mai Linh express bus service from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho leaves from Bến Xe Miền Tây (Western Bus Station) every 30 minutes with the trip taking 4 hours with a 30 minute break at around the half way mark. The cost of a one way trip is VND 80,000 (AU/USD $4.50)
Thanh Buoi – (08) 38306306 Thanh Buoi operates the fastest bus service from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho with a very short 10 minute rest stop at about the half way point, the trip costs VND 100,000 (aproximatly AU/US $5) also included in the ticket price is transfer to your hotel when you reach Can Tho
Phuong Trang – (08) 38375570 The Phuong Trang express bus service from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho takes about 4 hours with a 30 minute stop. Just like Thanh Buoi they also offer a hotel transfer which is included in the cost of your ticket. At the writing of this guide the cost was VND 100,000 (aproximatly AU/US $5)
All express bus services from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho leave from Ho Chi Minh Cities Western Bus Station (Bến Xe Miền Tây) which is located approximately 10 km south west of district 1 in Binh Tan district
Travel to Can Tho by Mini Bus, Hire Car, Taxi
Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho by Mini Bus is significantly more expensive than by Express Bus, however you do have the flexibility of leaving at whatever time you want, getting picked up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and dropped off at your hotel in Can Tho. You also have the flexibility to do the trip without any stops if you wish or doing your rest stop when and where ever you want (within reason). At the writing of this article the average rate for a 9 seater mini bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho was around VND 1,700,000 (approximately AU/USD $85)
Travel by private car with driver is slightly cheaper than mini bus with 1 day return trips from Ho Chi Minh City costing aournd VND 2,600,000 (AU/USD $130) single trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho price in at around VND 1,300,000 (AU/USD $65)
Taxis are the most expensive option for travel to Can Tho however you may be able to negotiate a flat rate fee off the meter that is more reasonable.
Travel to Can Tho by Motorbike is another option however if you are not a very experienced rider this should not be considered as road/motorbike travel between towns and cities is very dangerous , also most travel insurance does not cover motorbike travel. Xe Om (bike taxi) is a good alternative if you want to travel to Can Tho by motobike and experience the mode transport that most locals take.
Vietnam Travel Guy Tip: If you are hiring your own car or mini bus (with driver) consider starting your trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho early in the morning, say 4am to get a head start on the traffic. I have personally done this several times when travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong area and have found that I can shave close to an hour off the trip. Most car and mini bus operators are very flexible with pick-up times, so If you want to leave late at night or early in the morning you should have no problems with such a request.
Important Note: If travelling by road in Vietnam during festive seasons, especially Tet (Vietnamese New Year) travel times can be increase significantly because of the number of locals travelling from major cities to the country side to visit family.
Travel to Can Tho by Airplane
Can Tho has an International Airport (VCA) which also operates 2 daily domestic services below is a listing of the current domestic services (the below services and schedules were correct at the time of writing this guide, and are most likely already out of date so please consult Airlines websites for current services and routing)
|Phu Quoc (PQC)||Can Tho||VN1015||Vietnam Airlines||11:25 am||12:10 pm|
|Can Tho||Phu Quoc (PQC)||VN1014||Vietnam Airlines||12:50 pm||1:35 pm|
|Hanoi (HAN)||Can Tho||VN1203||Vietnam Airlines||11:50 am||2:00 pm|
|Can Tho||Hanoi (HAN)||VN1202||Vietnam Airlines||2:50 pm||5:00 pm|
Things to do in Can Tho
With its river location Can Tho just like most other Mekong destinations have many market, river boat, tropical fruit orchard and island adventures and you will find Can Tho and the Mekong region in general is a great break from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
Cái Răng Floating Market is the cities main wholesale market and some say the most well-known floating market in the Mekong (However others say Phong Điền (below) is more popular) being the main floating wholesale market there are a lot of medium and larger size boats compared to other floating markets which you may have already seen on your Mekong trip. Getting to Cái Răng Floating Market is a litter tricky as it is close to an hour by boat from the Ninh Kiều (Cần Thơ) wharf, if you are pressed for time the other option is driving to the Cầu Đầu Sấu boat landing and then taking a close to 10 minute boat ride to the market. As with most markets in Vietnam all the action happens early in the morning (the earlier the better) with an optimal time between 6am and 8am to beat the heat and humidity.
Phong Điền Floating Market is Can Tho’s retail floating market and as such is very different from Cái Răng, here you will see many more small and non-motorized boats selling everything from fruit, vegetables, seafood and meat through to Café (Café Da, Café Sua Da) and breakfast. As with Cái Răng above aim to get here as early as possible in the morning, it should be noted that it is possible to do both markets in the same morning if you set out early enough. However if you have a more than a day or two in the city and want to visit both you might want to do them on different mornings.
Phụng Hiệp floating market located about 30km south of Can Tho in the Hậu Giang province and is much further away than Cái Răng and Phong Điền Floating Markets however if you have time to spare it is well worth a visit. This market is the largest floating market in the Mekong and is open from as early as 4 am until about 11 am.
Again aim to leave for Phụng Hiệp early in the morning and you can either book a tour at your hotel or Can Tho tourist or go to Ninh Kiều (Cần Thơ) wharf to book directly with a boat operator.
Phu Sa Island Resort
Phu Sa Island Resort is mainly aimed at the local but is still a good break from streets of Can Tho. A free shuttle boat from the Ninh Kiều (Cần Thơ) wharf the boat ride takes around 15 minutes to reach the island. The Island itself has various activities including local music, food and drink as well as a decent collection of animals such as monkeys and crocodiles which you can feed and view safely from viewing platforms. Phu Sa island is very close to the Can Tho bridge so it is a great location to get a closer look at the largest suspension bridge in South East Asia. If the idea of staying on Phu Sa sounds appealing the island has a full service resort, enquire with Can Tho Tourist.
Can Tho Military Museum
The Can Tho Military Museum located at 6 DL Hoa Binh near the Can Tho post office and across from the Can Tho Museum hosts a large range of military pieces pronominally from the Vietnam War
Can Tho Night Market
The Can Tho Night Markets are operated nightly on Hai Ba Trung street and sells a mixture of tourist souvenirs, clothing, art work, crafts and food. It’s a great opportunity to get out and see locals and fellow travellers relaxing at the end of a hard day.
Chua Ong Temple
Built in 1894 the Chua Ong Temple was built by Chinese from Guangzhou and is located at D Hai Ba Trung inside the Guangzhou Assembly Hall which is just across the road from Can Tho Tourist and the statue of Ho Chi Minh (on the water). When you enter the temple it is interesting to note that the right side of the temple is dedicated to the Goddess of Fortune and the left to General Ma Tien.
Dating back to 1946 the Munirangsyaram Pagodais a great example of a typical Khmer Theravada Buddhist pagoda and is very different from the Chinese Buddhist inspired pagodas that make up the majority of pagoda’s in Vietnam.
What we like most about Munirangsyaram Pagoda is that it is different and very special defiantly a must see on any trip to Can Tho. Munirangsyaram Pagoda is located at 36 DL Hoa Binh just across the road from Vietcombank
Can Tho Museum
Can Tho Museum locate at 1 DL Hoa Binh, across the road from the Can Tho post office and Military museum has a great collection of Can Tho history including exhibits of Chinese and French colonial rule.
Can Tho Junk Stay
If the idea of an overnight junk boat stay appeals to you, there are several boats you can stay on overnight which are equipped with nice rooms with private bathroom facilities, we recommend the ones below, click on them for more details as well as booking/reservation details:
Food and Drink Local to Can Tho
Can Tho like the rest of the Mekong is renowned for its delicious fresh tropical fruits which you can sample literally everywhere, the fruit to try while in Can Tho (depending on season) includes Mango, Rambutan, Lychee, Logan, Mangosteen, Durian, Pineapple, Watermelon etc, etc and the list goes on and on. We recommend you start the day with an empty tummy and try everything as its all great, also for a refreshing option you should try one or more of these fruits as a fruit juice or smoothie
Food wise some of the specialty dishes to try in Can Tho include:
Bánh xèo – A Crispy Pancake with Prawn and Pork eaten wrapped in Asian Lettuce leaf with Asian mints and dipped in Nước mắm chấm (Fish Dipping sauce) there are several good quality restaurants that serve Bánh xèo on Lê Lợi street. One of them is on the same round about as the Can Tho Water Park the other is further north along Lê Lợi on the left side of the road.
Nem nướng – is BBQed Pork mince that has been cooked on a skewer, most locals eat wrapped in Bánh tráng (rice paper) with vermicelli noodles, fresh mints and Lettuce and dip in Nước mắm chấm (fish dipping sauce) it can also be eaten on its own or in a as Bún Nem nướng (in bowl with vermicelli noodles and mints) or Bánh mì (vietnamese bread roll)
Can Tho is known for some more exotic foods in particular field mouse and snake is a delicacy and widely available in most local restaurants, most westerners might shy away from this type of food, we encourage you to pluck up the courage.
Can Tho Hotels and Accommodation
For a city of over 1.5 million people Can Tho has a large undersupply of international hotels, they are virtually non-existant but thats I thing thats what sets this city apart from Saigon and other larger cities, as there are litrally hundreds of great quality and service mini and mid range hotels, that dont cost a weeks wage for just a few night stay.
Note: If you are at the stage of looking for a Can Tho Hotel availability/pricing details via the below links, our Hotel Search Engine compares over 100 of the cheapest online reservation sites to give you the best rate guranteed.
High End Luxury Hotels
|Victoria Can Tho Resort|
|Ninh Kieu 2 Hotel|
|Van Phat 1 Hotel|
Midrange Can Tho Hotels
|Saigon Cantho Hotel|
|Kim Tho Hotel Can Tho|
|Holiday Hotel Can Tho|
Budget Can Tho Hotels
|Kim Lan Hotel Can Tho|
|Nam Mon The Boutique Hotel|
If you are after a more comprehensive listing of all Can Tho Hotels take a look at our Can Tho Hotel page:
Can Tho Restaurants and Cafés
The restaurant and café scene in Can Tho has jumped in leaps and bounds in the last 5 years in terms of both numbers and the quality of food as well as service.
We recommend the following restaurants and cafés in Can Tho
Banh Xeo Ngoc Ngan
As mentioned Banh Xeo is one of the specialities of Can Tho and Banh Xeo Ngoc Ngan is a great little restaurant where you can try Banh Xeo.
Each time I have been hear the Banh Xeo is always ultra-crispy, the leuttice and mints tasty and fresh and most importantly the Ngoc Mam Cham has the right balance of Garlic Chilli sugar lime and fish sauce. This place is a must visit
Location: 118/9/49D Le Loi Street, Cai Khe Ward, Ninh Kieu
Banh Uot Cay Me
Banh Uot Cay Me specialises in Banh Cuon which is another great Vietnamese food that is made from a flour mixture and therefore has the word Banh in its name.
Banh Cuon is a fresh steamed and rolled rice paper that has a mixture of pork mince, black fungus, and onion in side. The rolled banh cuon is served on a plate with Nuoc Mam Cham, crispy fried/dried onion or shallots along with bean sprouts and mints.
Banhh Uot Cay Me is the best place we have found in Can Tho for Banh Cuon.
Location: 31 Dong Khoi St, Ninh Kieu , Can Tho
Ph: 0710 3826179
Located at 116 Đại lộ Lê Lợi, Cần Thơ Café Bamboo is a trendy local café that has good range of coffee, ice cream and café food. I have frequented this café several times over the past few years and staff, service as well as the drinks have been great. The middle of the café is a large artificial pond with young banyan and palm trees scattered throughout the open air café making it a great place to escape the heat of the streets of Can Tho.
We hoped you enjoyed this Can Tho Travel Guide please leave your comments and suggestions below!