We are heading to the Mekong Delta!
Our plan was to go to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh to visit the Cai Rang floating market bright and early the following morning. Can Tho is about 3hrs away from HCMC/Saigon and can be easily accessed on your own. Travel companies offer overnight tours for about $19 or less per person – which is very reasonable if you do not want to go through the hassle of researching everything yourself- we preferred to avoid tour groups.
Before arriving in a new city, we always ask where the bus will drop us off and we Google Maps the direction to where we are trying to go. Hanh Tour buses (Open Tour) dropped us off on Pham Ngu Lao in the Vietnamese Capital and we took a cab for $47,000VND ($2.50) to the Phuong Trang bus office on 328A Le Hong Phong street (we were told to go to Le Hong Phong after stopping at their De Tham Street office). There are hourly buses to Can Tho from Saigon and vice versa. We bought our tickets for 110,000VND ($5.50) per person. There are banh mi sandwiches for sale at both bus stations if you did not get a chance to grab a bite before departure and the bus makes a stop halfway at a food court. Phuong Trang offers complimentary water bottles and free hotel shuttles from/to the Can Tho bus station. We arrived to Kim Long Hotel on Chau Van Liem St. (after a twenty-minute wait at the Can Tho bus station for our shuttle) without any problems!
Our hotel was 313,000VND ($14.90) per night and was right on the pier. Can Tho was quieter than expected in the early afternoon but after a small nap to recuperate from our journey, we found the town quite alive around 5pm. There are street night markets and food stands lined up in front of the Can Tho Market. We were able to find a lady to take us on her rowboat the next morning at 5am. 3.5hrs for 200,000VND – we negotiated hard as the usual rates are 100,000 per hour. We do not know our lady’s name as English was not spoken (which, in my opinion, adds some spice to the trip as you have to get creative with your hand gesture communication) but we saw some recommendations on TripAdvisor.
If anything, any small boat trip is a great experience to have a somewhat more personal experience on the market because it really is a memorable and fascinating adventure.
We were back at the pier by 8:30am. Return to Saigon at 10:30am. The Phuong Trang shuttles comes to pick us up at our hotel and brings us to the Can Tho bus station where we embark on a three-hour ride back to the bustling capital.