Chau Doc Map
"Fueled with a hearty breakfast from The Bassac Restaurant, we board the hotels covered boat for a closer look at the Chau Doc floating market. Soon we pull up to see about 30 boats congregate in the early morning hours. In a region with a vast network of waterways, large and small, having a market on the water simply makes sense.
The barges come from all over the Mekong Delta, laden with a variety of fruits and vegetables, conveniently displaying samples on long poles for everyone to see. With so much activity, it’s the perfect place to practice our photography skills, and we notice that all the boats have “eyes”, a distinctive feature of Vietnamese vessels, believed to ward off evil spirits or monsters, and to also guide the boats away from danger and safely back home.
We find river life fascinating in this part of the world, where people’s lives are so in tune with the ebbs and flows of the water. Even the houses are built on stilts to withstand the seasonal rise and fall of the river".
Streets of Chau Doc
Chau Doc (in the centre of the Mekong Delta) -is a little riverside border town -- worth a visit in and of itself -- is the main stopover for travelers going to and from Cambodia. Chau Doc is a bustling center of trade and river transport, yet also a lazy, riverside burg and a throwback to another time. You'll still see old-style Ho Chi Minh surreys, called "xe loi", a two-wheel cart on the back of a regular bicycle, instead of the standard cyclo. And though most boats have long-tail motors, many fishermen and small-time traders still row their own boats in the standing, forward-pushing style.
A large floating market and nearby ethnic Cham villages are popular for early morning tours (usually part of a larger Mekong Delta package), as well as the small pilgrimage peak called Sam Mountain just outside of town. There are a few good hotel options (best is the Victoria), and dining is at alfresco eateries near the market, as you take in the busy comings and goings.
The hotel is perched on the banks of the Bassac River, the Victoria Hotel at Chau Doc combines modern comforts with the style and charm of the colonial French era. Each room offers traditional Vietnamese style with modern amenities and many of the 92 rooms have views overlooking the river and its famous floating fish farming villages, floating markets and Cham villages.
The Region South Vietnam
A stroll along the riverside will be well worth it. You will bump into many young people eager (but a bit shy) to engage you in conversation. It can be very rewarding after a morning spent haggling in the colourful markets. The region of Chau Doc is where some Muslim Cham settled in the 18th Century after having been expelled from Central and South Vietnam by the Viet in several centuries of war (other Cham clans settled in Cambodia -Kompong Cham means "Cham Landing"- Malaysia, and the Chinese island of Hai Nan). Therefore, one finds mosques in the region, including the Ehsan in the island of Con Tien and Jamiul Azhar ones.
About 7 km south-west of Chau Doc is Mount Sam, a sacred hill (230 m - The only hill in the region) full of temples and pagodas, both at the foot of the hill and on it ; the view from the top (1 hour climb) is superb.
The bird sanctuary "Tra Su" is about 23 km from Chau Doc and it consists of a protected forest with cajuput trees and swamp, where is a wide variety of bird life, including storks, herons, cormorants, peacocks and water cocks. A boat trip through the bird sanctuary along with a hike to a lookout tower takes a few hours and costs about $ 7 per person. Even if you are not a bird lover, you'll probably enjoy this watery wonderland with its huge water lilies and moss-shrouded trees.