Out-of-the-way flower town, with a naughty past

Sa Dec dockWorth It? If you have a day to spare in Vinh Long
What to Do Shop for flowers and take up a little typical Mekong river-town life
Best Time to Go October to March
How Long? A day
Gateway It’s on a rougher road between Vinh Long and Chau Doc, with some bus connections between Saigon and Chau Doc
Fact French-author Marguerite Duras based The Lover on her years spent living here


For some travelers, quaint little Sa Dec can be a perfect out-of-the-way setting to sample ‘real Mekong life’ – while others would just as soon leave. Certainly its pagoda-shaped brick factories, water-stained French villas and sprawling market buzz make it a more atmospheric spot than Vinh Long to poke around. It owes a little famed from its flower market – held daily just north of the center – and a French writer no local seems to have heard of. Author Marguerite Duras did spend some of her childhood here – including the years of her real-life affair as a teen with a middle-aged Chinese man, as famously retold in her book The Lover.

Read about my experiences trying to locate Duras’ villa during my research trip.