People usually whisper that Cần Thơ is Vietnam’s Western region capital, which is the origin of its nickname Tây Đô (Western Capital). Year after year, going through ups and downs, the land reserved many tales about famous places. If you are destined to visit the West of Vietnam, try travelling to Cần Thơ to wholly enjoy the beauty of its nature, humans, and cuisine.
The unique Cái Răng floating market of the Tây Đô
I woke up before dawn, packed everything to kick start the one-day travel tour at this place. My choice of the first destination was Cái Răng floating market because it was only vivid at the beginning of the day. I arrived at Ninh Kiều wharf at 4:30 in the morning, bought a ticket for a boat ride to Cái Răng. It cost me around 30 minutes on the river to the destination. The renowned Cái Răng of being one of the most bustle floating markets in Mekong Delta spoke the truth. As the scene of it gradually revealed, there was a surge of excitement in me. At 5 o’clock, I was at the floating market, witnessing the river flocked by boats of traders and visitors like me. On each, there would be different goods to sell: fruit, breakfast, and essential stuff in daily life. Boat owners would hang their products on a pole (the locals call it cây bẹo) to help ease the customers in search of goods. The land was full of hearty people and low priced but high quality products. Immersing in the countryside’s energetic space, the tight bond between the peoples of this unique floating market touched me deeply.
At 8 o’clock, I left the market and took the bus to Trúc Lâm Phương Nam Zen Monastery (in Mỹ Khánh commune, Phong Điền district), which was about 15 minutes of driving. The peace and tranquility of this sacred place flowed into me. It was vast, worshipping many statues of Buddha, and Arhats with the well-balanced, harmonious campus forming by the Shrine of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, the Shrine of Maitreya Buddha, and the One Pillar Pagoda, creating a quiet and relaxing setting for anyone in need of wandering.
Cuisine, people and nature of the Tây Đô
On the way back to the center, I stopped by Sáu Hoài Noodles (in An Bình ward, Ninh Kiều district). It is famous for domestic and foreign tourists because of the unique combination of garden economy, business economy, eco-tourism, and culinary tourism. At there, I visited the traditional noodle-making establishment, wandered the orchard, enjoyed noodles dishes like crispy fried noodles, pork bone broth noodles, etc. and especially the new specialty of Cần Thơ – Noodles Pizza. People had fallen for its strange, mouth-easing flavour due to the combination of the noodles’ crunchiness, the taste of fried egg, and pork stewed in dwarf coconut juice, and a layer of coconut milk and fresh milk.
About 1 p.m., I moved to the city center. I choose to sip a cup of aromatic milk coffee at Côti Cafe – one of the most beautiful cafes in Can Tho. Seeing Huỳnh Cương Street curling along the banks of poetic Xáng Thổi Lake from above, watching people bustling back and forth at below is a fantastic experience.
Then, around 4 o’clock, I strolled around the banks of Xáng Thổi Lake and looked at the bustling shops nearby. As it got darker, the area woke up with the lively, busy people and shops, cafes, and restaurants gradually appeared.
My following destination was chùa Ông (Grand temple) – a famous Chinese temple in the South, with a history of over 100 years. Although not having ample space, this place lit up the adventurous spirit within the souls of anyone by the impression of its striking red architecture combined with the delicate flying dragons and phoenix patterns and a large amount of round incenses hanging everywhere.
The location of Grand temple was next to Ninh Kiều wharf, which was very convenient for travelling. Just by ten steps away, you could see the whole scene of Ninh Kiều wharf winding around a long river. The area was covered with straight rows of green trees and always crowded. The wharf connected the Cần Thơ walking bridge (also known as the bridge of love). It was named for witnessing countless beautiful and romantic love stories of couples. From here, I could admire the beauty of the gentle Hậu river with a glimpse of tiny boats, ships, and the trees extending across the fishing village. It could be said that Ninh Kiều wharf was the most crowded place in Cần Thơ. When the city lighted up, more and more people flocked to this area for not only the chill atmosphere but also the convenience of shopping and eating. Located on Hai Bà Trưng and Nguyễn Thái Học streets was a row of stalls. People call this Tây Đô night market. There were many items such as clothes, souvenirs, even specialty dishes of Cần Thơ. After more than 2 hours joining the hustling crowd to enjoy the fun of the night market, I chose to stop at Amavo Coffee – a cafe nestled on the corner of Nguyễn Thái Học street. Sipping a cup of coffee and watching the scene of the bustling night market below the road was the close of an exciting day of my trip to Tây Đô.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt