About a half-hour by motorbike to the southeast of Chau Doc, the square-shaped forest of Tra Su has become a favorite nesting spot for storks and other large water birds. A visit to the water-carpeted park is a popular excursion from Chau Doc, and for good reason.
Part of Can Tho's charm is that there isn't a lot to do. The city practically forces you into a state of relaxation; it's hard to stress about "seeing all the sights", when there aren't many sights to see. The entire itinerary for our first day was "Boat Ride", so when the tour turned out to be six hours long, we didn't mind.
With over a million inhabitants, Can Tho is the unofficial capital of the Mekong Delta, and a major center of education and commerce. But despite the big-city status, it manages to maintain a slow pace and relaxed atmosphere. We spent four enjoyable days here.
After a couple days exploring Vinh Long and An Binh, we took a bus further inland until reaching Sadec, a small city in the Mekong Delta with a wonderfully tranquil pace.
Part of our boat tour around An Binh Island was a stop at a small candy factory, where we learned how to prepare a few of Vietnam's favorite traditional sweets.
It's unavoidable. If you plan on spending any time on the Mekong Delta, you're going to be taking a boat trip. Who visits the Mekong and doesn't take a boat trip? And it's just as unavoidable that, unless you're willing to invest a lot of money, your trip will be pretty touristy. But that doesn't mean it can't also be fun.
For our initial excursion to the Mekong Delta, we choose to stay on An Binh, an island between the towns of Vinh Long and Cai Be. We spent the first day of our trip biking around the island, and photographing its postcard-worthy images of life on the delta.
For about a week, hundreds of boats from the Mekong Delta line up along the Ben Binh Wharf to sell the flowers and small fruit trees with which Vietnamese families decorate their homes during the holiday of Tet. Visiting this floating flower market was among the first things we did in Saigon, and the scene made a huge impression on us.