CHAU DOC - Boat Tours

Chau Doc’s main attraction is a three-hour boat tour that takes in the floating market, the floating village offshore, a Cham village across the river, and perhaps a peek at the Kinh Vinh Te (the canal that leads south to Ha Tien – not terribly exciting).

Bananas, Chau DocThe FLOATING MARKET, busiest at 7am, is about 10 minutes downstream from the central market. In the morning, locals in row boats paddle out to stock up for a day at the market. Boats head off to pick up fruit in Sa Dec or Can Tho every few days, but there’s always plenty of business in the early hours.

The ‘FLOATING VILLAGE’ is comprised of aluminum-roof-and-walled homes atop huge, netted ‘fish farms,’ where hundreds and hundreds of ca vo dem fish await canh chua bowls; some get shipped downriver to Can Tho and beyond; note the huge moored wooden boats, which flood their lower decks to keep the fish alive during the trip.

Another popular stop is DA PHUOC, a Cham village across the river on Con Tien island from Chau Doc’s center. Here you’ll see women wearing turbans made of Cham-style fabrics that they weave – during dry season – under their homes that stand on stilts. During the rainy season the water levels are too high. Cham women often put on conical non la hats when they go to Chau Doc market, to ‘blend in’ apparently. The 1992 mosque occasionally hosts wedding parites, as the village has no other building big enough to host the event; note the small cemetery behind the building.

Organizing a Trip
If you’re not on a guided trip, you’ll be offered many boat trips. Generally it’s $2 per hour, and you’ll need two-and-a-half hours; you can save a little time by skipping the canal, as some guides do. The benefit of a DIY trip like this is that you often get to board fruit-filled boats in the fishing market (if you ask), something that rarely if ever happens on a package trip – and you can have a boat for yourself.

I took a two-and-a-half hour trip with Mr Long at Hoa Sen Bookstore, which cost $5, and included a stop at his sister’s floating house, and buying a just-caught fish from a fisher in a canoe that I took back to Chau Doc restaurant for a huge fish lunch. We also boarded a banana boat, just in from Tra Vinh, which carried 26 tons of green bananas. A real stand-out trip of the Mekong. Ask Mr Long about arranging a night on a floating house — could be a super experience.

You can also organize trips through Mekong Tours; it’s $6 per person (minimum three people) for half-day boat trip, and $15 per person for a full-day trip (including Sam Mountain, Tuc Dup hill and Cam Mountain).

Victoria charges $17 per person (minimum two people) for a two-hour tour.

Other attractions: