Can Tho and Saigon (HCMC), Vietnam
A quick 90-minute flight from Da Nang landed us in Can Tho, southern Vietnam. We made the trip specifically to see the Cai Raing floating market that is about a 30-40 minute boat ride from Can Tho.
A Slow Day In Can Tho
The actual town of Can Tho is very small and pretty uneventful. A lot of tourists make the trip from Ho Chi Minh City on a bus as a full day trip but the market is best early in the morning so we decided to stay in town. We had a hard time keeping ourselves occupied for the half day we had to fill after we landing and checking in. There is a food street along the river but the options were limited. We got some lunch and walked up and down the river before deciding to relax in the hotel.
In the evening, we heard rumors of a street food area so we went to check it out. It was only a small street with maybe 15 food stands. We were pleasantly surprised to find some excellent and unique stuff! There were some great drinks and a very interesting Vietnamese “taco” that was very good! We got a ton of food and brought it back to the hotel for an early night.
A Brief History Of The Market
We woke up and left the hotel at around 5:30am. We went to the river and found a small boat that we could take by ourselves and negotiated a price. The ride to Cai Raing floating market was about 30-40 minutes but the view was amazing. We were able to watch the sunrise over the river and see the houses on the banks. Everyone was doing their morning routines. The floating market was much smaller than we thought. It is considered one of the largest floating markets still remaining in Vietnam but it is getting smaller and smaller every day. In fact, the floating market is mostly maintained for tourist purposes. It is still used by local farmers like it used to be in the old days but it was not nearly as big and busy as the pictures I had seen from years ago.
Cai Raing Floating Market
Once we got into the actual market area another boat floated up to us and sold us some coffee right off the boat! They grabbed onto our boat during the transaction and then pushed off when we were done. We also had breakfast on the boat and it was fantastic! One of the best meals we had the entire trip! AJ and I got 2 different things, mine was a noodle dish and AJ’s was a soup. It is actually not as hard as you might think to eat on a tiny boat and there were several other boats tied to the food boat, just floating and eating.
The majority of the boats were filled with different fruits and vegetables. They had a long pole that stuck straight up in the air and held one of the fruits they were selling. This way, you could easily float through and see what each boat was selling and get what you need! It was an awesome and incredibly unique place! Unfortunately, when I got home, my memory card that I shot all my floating market photos on was corrupted. Despite all my best efforts, I was unable to recover them. I was devastated since the floating market was one of the main things I planned specifically to photograph. Now the saying “you had to be there to see it” is really true!
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) aka Saigon
After a small breakfast at the hotel we had the front desk schedule our tickets for a bus to Ho Chi Minh City. The ride was a long 4 hours! We stopped at a rest stop half way through and got a couple snacks but we were both starving by the time we arrived. The First Hotel in Saigon was very nice and let us check-in a little early. I purposefully chose a hotel near the airport since we only had 1.5 days to spend in the city. It made sense but there wasn’t much directly around our hotel. We didn’t have very much time so we got dinner close to the hotel and swam in the hotel pool while planning our next day.
We weren’t particularly interested in visiting Saigon but it was the airport that made the most sense to fly out of. Because of that, we didn’t make any specific plans for how to spend our one full day in the city. The tourist map that the hotel give us had a 1 day city tour walking path so we decided to give that a try. We started the day at a market followed by an art museum) and an antique street. In the center of town we saw the opera house and some beautiful government buildings. At this point we had been walking nearly all day so we stopped at a 23rd floor restaurant and had some drinks on the rooftop! We got a great view of the city and an even better view of the city traffic from above. Watching the crazy driving from up high was hilarious.
A Good Ambiance To End A Great Trip
We continued resting at Turtle Lake, which is a common hang out spot in the middle of the city. We passed a nice restaurant on our way back home and stopped for a lovely dinner. The restaurant had outdoor seating with great ambiance. It was a great little place to reflect on our vacation and all the experiences we had! Vietnam was a beautiful country and a little more rustic than some of the other places we had been. We are so grateful to have been able to discover another country together!