We flew to Phu Quoc but we wanted to make a stop in the Mekong Delta so we took a land/water route back to Ho Chi Minh City. When we looked for options online from Canada we did not see an obvious way to make the trip but we figured it had to be possible. It was and as usual we were able to book our travel from Phu Quoc to Can Tho with a local travel agent in Phu Quoc. It’s a multi-stage trip as you need to get to the ferry off the island and get ground transport on the other side. The cheaper option was $22 US each and involved a 5 hour trip on a local bus. We went crazy and paid an extra $5 each to take a tourist bus which saved us 2 hours.
We were picked up at the hotel in a mini-bus which is normal. It was very full which is also normal. The driver had strong views on where everyone should sit and a Danish couple were not happy about where he felt they should sit. I believe “no fucking way” was their response. I ended up getting moved to the spot he wanted them to occupy. It was very tight and I was surrounded by bags which would have done some serious damage if we had stopped suddenly.
We arrived at the ferry to Gai Reach which is the longer of the two crossings. The boat was packed. The driver gave us all tickets for assigned seats. Harold and I got seats together, the Danish couple did not. Coincidence? I don’t think so. When we last saw them they were arguing with the boat staff and demanding seats together. I don’t think they got them. Arguing with travel staff is not generally a good idea and it’s even more true in Asia where it is considered very rude.
Once the cabin was full they actually locked us into it which was a bit un-nerving. The ferry was 35,000 VND and the bus 110,000 VND so we paid a lot for a few directions and a ride to the boat but sometimes it’s worth it. The boat was full and we would not have known how to get tickets in advance without help.
When we arrived in Gai Reach there was a man with a sign with our names on it waiting for us. We got into a mini-van which took us to the main bus station where we were given tickets for the bus. Harold and I got window seats the Danish couple were stuck in the aisle. Hard to believe that the message was passed that far forward but you never know.
It is only 76 km from Gai Reach to Can Thon but it took 3 ½ hours by bus which included the usual 30 minute break n the middle of nowhere for bathrooms and food. We paid 45,000 VND for sandwiches which cost 15,000 VND on the street in Hoi Ann.
We arrived at the bus station and negotiated a taxi to the hotel. The trip to the hotel was supposed to be included in the price but we could not get an explanation of how to make use of that in English. We don’t use taxis that much but when we do we always take metered taxis to avoid issues about how much we have to pay at the destination. We have never had a problem.
We stayed at the Kim Lan Hotel. The location was great. Overall, the hotel was great and I would recommend it. The room was very nice. They upgraded us and let us check in early. The only thing missing was hot water but you can’t have everything. The staff were very helpful. They gave us a great map and we set off to explore.
We walked along the river and were stopped every few feet by people who wanted to take us on a boat tour. We ended up booking a $50 US private tour for the next morning to see the floating markets. We don’t usually do private tours but we were a bit pressed for time and we could not find what we were looking for in the group tours.
We ate at Nam Nuong Thanh Van on the hotel’s recommendation. It was great, real local food and mostly locals not tourists. We had fresh spring rolls with all the fixings. They were very good and the restaurant only sells spring rolls so we did not really have a choice. They sat us at the tourist table and made sure we understood how to eat what was given to us. There was a man begging in front of the store. This was the first time and only time we saw anyone actively begging in almost four weeks in Vietnam.
We ended the evening with the night market which also had lots of great food and we bought some souvenirs which were much cheaper than they had been in Ho Chi Min City.