A newish town carved from the jungles and swamps of the Mekong Delta region, Cao Lanh is big for business, but draws few tourists.
(226 Ð Nguyen Thai Hoc; 7-11.30am & 1.30-5pm) The Dong Thap Museum is among the Mekong’s best museums, despite having no English captions. The ground floor displays an anthropological history of Dong Thap province, with exhibits of tools, sculpture, models of traditional houses and a few stuffed animals and pickled fish. Upstairs is devoted to war history and Ho Chi Minh.
On the eastern edge of town off Hwy 30, the War Memorial (Dai Liet Si) is Cao Lanh’s most prominent landmark, a sculpture featuring a large white concrete statue of a decorated soldier holding flowers in front of a stylised star. The rear of the statue is illustrated with storks, a symbol of the Mekong.
Within the grounds are the graves of 3112 VC who died fighting in the American War.
(Lang Cu Nguyen Sinh Sac; off Ð Pham Huu Lau; car parking 6000d) The tomb of Ho Chi Minh’s father, Nguyen Sinh Sac (1862–1929), is the centrepiece of a pretty 9.6-hectare park and model heritage village. The tomb itself is located under a shell-shaped shrine set behind a star-shaped lotus pond.
Although various plaques (in Vietnamese) and tourist pamphlets extol Nguyen Sinh Sac as a great revolutionary, scarce evidence confirms that he was involved in the anti colonial struggle against the French. Next to the shrine is a small museum devoted to Ho Chi Minh consisting mainly of photographs with Vietnamese captions.
The complex is located at the southwest approach to town; turn right after Hoa Long Pagoda and follow the fence around until you get to the entrance.
( 067-224 0567; [email protected]; 40 Ð Ly Tu Trong; r from 210,000d) For 210,000d you’ll get a tidy, smallish double with a small bathroom at this fresh-faced hotel near the bus station. The two-bed rooms are spacious, while the pricier rooms would fit a family.
( 067-385 2852; 33 Ð Le Qui Don; r 200,000-300,000d) A cavernous restaurant, massage parlour and hotel rolled into one, this represents good value, with spacious but rather tacky rooms. Located behind the post office; rates include breakfast. No lift.
( 067-387 2670; 48 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet; r 350,000-1,000,000d) A Communist Party special, with large, airy, OK rooms, a reception dripping in marble, and corridors wide enough to take a jeep. However, little English is spoken and it has an institutionalised feel.
( 067-385 2624; 178 Ð Nguyen Hue; r US$19-35, ste US$50) The exterior is clunky but rooms are in reasonable shape, with big windows, satellite TV, a minibar and hot water. Staff are friendlier than you’ll find in most other state-run places.
(210 Ɖ Nguyen Hue; dishes from 35,000d; 8am-9pm) The ‘Magnolia’ is a bright and inviting choice, with fresh and tasty pot-cooked pork (35,000d) and mixed-vegetable soup (80,000d). It’s illuminated with a red-and-green LED sign at night.
( 067-385 2202; 42 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet; mains 20,000-70,000d) Shut for a refurb at the time of writing, this eatery usually has tasty banh xeo (fried pancakes, which you roll up and dip in fish sauce) as a speciality.
Dong Thap Tourist ( 067-387 3026; www.dongthaptourist.com; 2 Ð Doc Binh Kieu; 7-11.30am & 1.30-5pm) A particularly friendly, helpful outfit that can arrange boat and other tours of the surrounding area. It also has a branch ( 067-391 8487) at My Hiep village.
Getting There & Around
Cao Lanh Bus Station (Ben Xe Cao Lanh; 71/1 Ð Ly Thuong Kiet) is conveniently located right in the centre of town, with services to HCMC (65,000d), Sa Dec (15,000d), Vinh Long (17,000d), My Tho (30,000d), Tra Vinh (49,000d), Can Tho (45,000d), Soc Trang (55,000d), Vung Tau (112,000d) and Ca Mau (85,000d).
Sights around Cao Lanh are best visited by river. Although you could possibly arrange something privately with boat owners, you’ll find it easier – though slightly more expensive – to deal with Dong Thap Tourist. Plan on about $30 for a half-day boat tour.