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Can Tho Travel Guide: Things to Do Beyond the Floating Market

January 21, 2024
12 Min Read
Vietnam
A woman manoeuvres her boat through narrow waterways in Can Tho, Vietnam
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Can Tho Travel Guide: Things to Do Beyond the Floating Market
Written by 
Karla
Updated On 
February 25, 2024
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Are you looking for the best things to do in Can Tho, Vietnam?

Here is the ultimate travel guide to visiting Can Tho, where you can find everything you need to know to plan your trip.

In this travel guide, you will find our list of what to do in the Can Tho beyond the Can Tho floating markets. We’ve also included where to stay, the best time to visit, how to get to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh City, the best Can Tho tours, and many tips.

We’ve included some hidden gems in Can Tho that we’re sure you will enjoy! So whether it’s your first time visiting or you’ve been to Can Tho before, this guide is for you!

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Planning a Last Minute Trip to Can Tho?

Don’t have time to read the whole article? No worries! Start planning your Can Tho trip with these links to hotels, tours, and other services that you can book right away!

Transportation: Private Van Transfer From Ho Chi Minh City

Where to Stay: KP Hotel, Can Tho (Mid-Range)

Best Tour from Saigon: Explore Cai Rang and Phong Dien Floating Market

A man wearing a hat makes his way through a ricefield.

About Can Tho

Can Tho is a city located in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with a rich local culture, endless natural beauty, and plenty of activities to choose from.

Though Can Tho is famous for its floating markets, the city has much more to offer. From undiscovered pagodas to meandering waterways and fruit gardens, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy in Can Tho.

A boy looks at the camera while a woman wearing a conical hat walks by.

14 Best Things to Do in Can Tho

After visiting the city on a few occasions, we've put together a list of our favorite activities that we believe are worth experiencing in Can Tho.

Here are the top things to do in Can Tho, Vietnam.

A woman wearing a conical hat at her shop with stacks of dried shrimp

1. Navigate the Tranquil Waterways

Can Tho is home to a vast network of waterways that are an integral part of the city and the local way of life. What's a better way to experience the local culture than by discovering the rivers of Can Tho?

This experience will allow you to witness the daily activities of the locals living by the river and meet friendly locals who rely on the waterways for their livelihoods.

Among all the things we've done in the city, hopping on a small wooden boat as it navigates the tranquil waters surrounded by lush greenery remains our favorite! 

A sampan boat navigates through narrow waterways in Can Tho, Vietnam

2. Watch the Sunrise at Phong Dien Floating Market

Visiting Can Tho wouldn’t be complete without seeing the local floating market in person. For something small and authentic, head to the Phong Dien floating market around sunrise.

This floating market is still under the radar of most tourists, as it’s a bit farther from the center. Yet, it is a good place to see a more authentic exchange of goods and local meet-ups of about 10 to 15 boats along the river.

Want to know the best way to visit this authentic market? Read our complete guide to the Phong Dien floating market here!

Boats gather at the Phong Dien floating market in Vietnam

3. Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market

One of the reasons why Can Tho is famous is because of the Cai Rang floating market. This market used to be a busy trading hub for local farmers in the Mekong Delta.

Nowadays, you will find bigger boats trading one specific product with each other. Additionally, with boat tours departing daily, you can expect the market to be bustling more with tourists. The tours usually include visits to a rice noodle factory and a cocoa farm in Can Tho.

Is the Cai Rang floating market worth visiting? Read our honest guide to the Cai Rang floating market and find out what to expect and plenty of insider tips you won’t want to miss.

A boat filled with watermelons at the Cai Rang floating market in Vietnam

If you’re interested in seeing Can Tho floating markets, then book this highly rated tour that will let you visit both the Phong Dien and Cai Rang floating markets.

4. Wander Along Ninh Kieu Wharf

Ninh Kieu Wharf is a great place to walk by the river around sunset and enjoy your afternoon. It has a wide space, with lots of restaurants nearby to choose from for dinner. You can also visit the Chinese temple, Chùa Ông, located directly across the street. Alternatively, purchase some drinks and find a seat to enjoy the river view.

A boulevard surrounded by trees in Can Tho, Vietnam

While you’re at Ninh Kieu Wharf, continue your walk to Can Tho’s Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the Love Bridge. It is a popular spot in Can Tho to take walks and admire the cityscape.

You’ll find lots of locals hanging out at night, and it’s interesting to observe how they spend their free time with their family and friends. There’s nothing too special on the bridge, but we enjoyed the cool breeze during our night walk.

Two men on a fishing boat in Can Tho, Vietnam

5. Experience Can Tho Night Market

The Ninh Kieu night market is located at the end of the wharf, directly in front of Can Tho Market. It serves a variety of local street food options, including seafood and more traditional rice paper snacks.

There are also dessert and beverage options to choose from. The area is not large or crowded, making it ideal for a leisurely stroll and sampling local delicacies.

People buy goods at a night market in Can Tho, Vietnam

6. Visit Thom Net Village

Thom Rom Net Village, located about 34 kilometers from Can Tho Center, displays the art of weaving fishing nets. The village has less than 70 families who make nets to sell at local marketplaces in the Mekong Delta. While it’s an interesting place to see, we only recommend visiting it if you’re in the area, as we think it is not worth the long drive.

Interested in visiting more traditional villages in the Mekong? Read our story about Phu To Village, a fish-drying village in the Mekong Delta.

7. Check Out Binh Thuy Ancient House

Binh Thuy ancient house, located approximately 6 kilometers from Can Tho's center, combines Western and Eastern architecture. It is a beautifully designed traditional home with a staircase in the front and a garden full of bougainvilleas and orchids.

While viewing the house from the outside is free, you have to pay about 1 USD to enter the house.

A colorful house surrounded by flowers in Can Tho, Vietnam

8. Explore the Truc Lam Phuong Nam Zen Monastery

Trúc Lâm Phương Nam Zen Monastery is one of the largest religious complexes in the Mekong Delta. It is also one of the most overlooked places to visit in the city, but we loved walking around its expansive and peaceful grounds. 

We recommend visiting in the morning because it's quieter and you'll avoid the harsh sun. It's free to enter and opens daily from 8am to 5pm.

A pagoda near Can Tho, Vietnam

9. Try the Cong Cake

Cong Cake, also known as Bánh Cống, is a must-try local delicacy in Can Tho. It is shaped like a mini cupcake and is deep-fried to create a crispy outer shell. It contains shrimp, green beans, and minced pork and comes with a selection of fresh veggies and fish sauce for dipping.

Try this dish at Tiệm Bánh Cống Cô Út, one of the best restaurants in Can Tho serving this dish located in the center.

10. Have a Taste of Can Tho’s Bánh Xèo

Though Banh Xeo is widely known throughout Vietnam, the crispy rice pancake made in Can Tho is definitely worth trying. Quán Bánh Xèo 7 Tới, located on Hoang Quoc Viet Street, is a popular spot for Mekong Delta-style Ban Xeo. It's also fascinating to observe the restaurant's fast-paced cooking and the number of stovetops in use at the same time.

11. Relax at Raw Coffee

Raw Coffee is a cafe with old and rustic decor and a welcoming atmosphere, great for relaxing while enjoying your coffee. We enjoyed how the café has a lot of open seating areas with plants all over the place, which is a nice way to escape the bustling pace of the city.

A window of an overgrown house in Can Tho, Vietnam

12. Walk Around the Local Market Street

Can Tho is well-known for its floating market, but the street market in the city center is equally fascinating. The market stretches along Hai Bà Trưng road, with sellers on both sides offering fresh produce and Vietnamese goods. We visited around 11am, and the street wasn't as busy, so we assumed it would be livelier in the morning.

Interested in seeing more local markets? Read our guide to visiting the Vi Thanh squatting market in the Mekong Delta.

Countless bananas are being sold at a market in Can Tho, Vietnam

13. Discover the Phu Ly Khmer Pagoda

The Phu Ly Khmer Pagoda, also known as Chùa Khmer Phù Ly, is located in Binh Minh town, about 20 minutes drive from the Can Tho center. This beautifully built pagoda stands tall with its yellow facade and intricately embellished designs of dragons, lions, goddesses, and snakes.

Besides the intricate design, what also allures us about it is its hidden location within a small Khmer village surrounded by green fields and peaceful temple grounds. The Phy Ly Pagoda is a great place to stop by if you're up for a short drive from Can Tho.

Want to visit more pagodas in the Mekong Delta? Read our guide to the most beautiful pagodas in An Giang Province!

The Phy Ly Pagoda in Ca Tho, Vietnam

14. Drive Around the Countryside

One way to discover Can Tho is to rent a motorbike and drive around without a specific destination. If you can drive a motorbike, we recommend exploring outside the city center and into smaller markets and rice fields.

Not comfortable driving a motorbike on your own? Consider going on a bicycle tour with a guide that will take you around the peaceful villages of Can Tho.

We always find the most interesting places whenever we set out, and we constantly encounter the friendliest and most accommodating locals whenever we go for a drive. This was no different in Can Tho. During one of our visits, we happened to come across a local home that was making pottery when we went driving past narrow streets and into the countryside.

Want to see the Mekong on a motorbike? Here is our detailed 4-day motorbike itinerary in the Mekong Delta that will take you to some of the most beautiful and authentic spots in the region.

How Many Days is Enough to Visit Can Tho?

Can Tho is the fourth-biggest city in Vietnam, and despite visiting it a few times, we feel that we haven’t fully discovered Can Tho yet. There are just many small alleys and waterways to explore and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

That being said, we recommend staying at least 2 days in Can Tho, just enough to see the main highlights. If you’re interested in seeing more off-the-beaten destinations, then spend a few days discovering the surrounding countryside.

A man wearing a hat makes his way through a ricefield.

How to Get to Can Tho

There are many ways to reach Can Tho depending on where you’re coming from. Here are the best ways to get to Can Tho City.

Plane: If you’re coming from anywhere else besides Saigon, there is an international airport in Can Tho where you can fly into. Find flights to Can Tho now!

Tip: The airport in Can Tho (VCA) is located around 11km from the city center. For convenience, book this Can Tho airport transfer to your hotel here!

A street in Can Tho by night

Car: If you’re coming from Ho Chi Minh City, the drive to Can Tho is about 3 hours and the most convenient way is to book a private car. Book your car to Can Tho here!

Bus: There are plenty of buses departing from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho daily for around 9 USD. Book your bus to Can Tho here!

A woman sorting green onions in Can Tho, Vietnam

Where to Stay in Can Tho

We recommend staying within the center close to the Ninh Kieu Wharf for convenience. Here, you will find plenty of food options and close to major attractions in Can Tho. There are also many accommodations outside the center if you’re looking to stay somewhere quiet. Find all Can Tho accommodations here!

Best Time to Visit Can Tho

Can Tho is a place you can visit year-round, but the best time to go is between December and April during the dry season. For the best weather, visit between December and February, when nights are cooler and the midday sun is less intense.

Read: Best Time to Visit Vietnam

A young man wearing a non la makes clay pots.

How to Get Around

Foot: If you stay in the city center or near Ninh Kieu Wharf, you will be able to walk to many restaurants and major tourist attractions in Can Tho. If you're going somewhere further, we recommend booking a car through Grab, Asia's equivalent of Uber.

Motorbike: The most convenient way to get around Can Tho is to rent a motorbike for the day. You can rent a bike at your accommodation for roughly 7 USD per day. However, we only recommend it if you have a license.

Having travel insurance is a must if you're planning on riding. At Heymondo, you can get 5% off your purchase just for being our reader!

Read: Best Ways to Get Around Vietnam

A woman rides her bike in front of the Phy Ly Pagoda in Can Tho, Vietnam

Best Can Tho Tours

We've always enjoyed traveling independently rather than on organized tours. However, if you want to have everything taken care of for your trip to Can Tho, here are the best tours we've found online with good ratings.

Is Can Tho Worth Visiting?

After visiting Can Tho a few times now, we think it is worth it if you're spending at least 2 days exploring the countryside and beyond the Can Tho floating markets.

We had low expectations before visiting the city both times, yet we were always pleasantly surprised by the charm and beauty that Can Tho has to offer. Aside from the attractions, we've also enjoyed our interactions with the locals, who are incredibly friendly and welcoming.

Where to Next?
Long Xuyen
Birds-eye view of blue boats laying along the shore in Long Xuyen, Vietnam
Sam Mountain
Hang Pagoda, Vietnam
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And that’s the ultimate Can Tho guide with our best things to do!

We hope you’ve found inspiration for your next trip to Can Tho, and let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

If you haven’t planned your Vietnam itinerary yet, we have detailed itineraries ranging from 2 to 4 weeks with many of Vietnam’s best places to visit.

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