Part 2: Ben Tre – Can Tho (120 km)
Highlights: Binh Thanh Island, Can Tho Bridge, rural scenery
From the Ben Tre you have several options to get t o Can Tho. The fastest one is following QL60 north towards My Tho and then the QL1A to Can Tho. Well, this is fast, but how much fun would be a journey on busy highways. It would defeat the purpose of traveling by motorbike through the Mekong Delta.
The second option would be heading towards Vinh Long via the DT884 and QL57, and then follow the QL1A to Can Tho. The DT884 is actually a nice road, I took a bus from Ben Tre to a homestay there back in January 2015, and then continued to Vinh Long. Some rather interesting road.
But if you really want to see more or rural Mekong Delta via small roads, taking ferries to islands – then I would suggest the longer way.
From Ben Tre take the QL60 to the west and cross the larger bridge over another large arm of the mighty Mekong river. Thankfully you don’t have to stay on that large road for too long. A few km after crossing the bridge turn into the DT882.
This is a lovely small road that for me is what traveling through the Mekong Delta by motorbike is all about. The road was not too busy and the scenery was rather beautiful and peaceful. With trees, palm trees, plantation and rice fields it offered quite a bit of variety.
At the end of DT882 you have to follow the QL57 – fortunately only for a short while. From here turn left into a small road that leads you to a ferry to continue with some island hopping. If the DT882 is seen as nice, this is nothing in comparison to this side road. Both sides of the road were full of palm trees. The amount of green was overwhelming in a positive way. And the shade provided by the trees is rather welcoming. In addition of the now typical sights of palm trees, plantations, rice fields and little village you will see some more unusual sights, like a little graveyard, man-made irrigation systems of pipes you pass underneath. You will also cross a bridge that will offer a view that for me is typical for this region – the greenish water of a stream, covered on both sides with trees and other plants, while some boats travelled through the area or stopping on the canal. And if you are lucky, you might even see kids in their traditional Ao Dai dresses cycling or riding pass you while smiling at you and shouting Hello. This is the real, rural Vietnam. These are the moments you will not forget when travelling through Vietnam, and not just following the touristy path. This section is rather stunning.
At the end of the road you will arrive at a pier, where you can catch the ferry to Thanh Binh island. The ferry goes very regularly and the fee is minimal.
Thanh Binh island is actually not a small island, though not as big as Phu Dong island east of Ben Tre. I rather liked riding on the empty roads and enjoyed the non-touristy feel. It looks like a beautiful island.
Form the pier just follow the road to the cnetre of the island. Please note that in November 2018 the bridge across a stream near the pier was still under construction. In that case turn right and follow the canal via the dirt road – which is actually a pleasant ride. After a while you get back to a paved road and there is another small bridge across the canal. However, before the bridge there is a little pagoda on your right hand side. You might want to have a look there.
After crossing the bridge (enjoy the view it offers) you will reach the main street that is cutting the island north to south. From here is makes sense heading to the northern ferry terminal. The road here is rather pleasant with colorful flowers along the road. At the northern end the road is currently under construction, so it is a bit of a dirt road, but after that you will pass a little church and arrive at the pier where you can catch another ferry to cross another river…
Back on the mainland follow the DT901 towards the west. It will lead you towards DT907 and then QL54 before reaching Can Tho.
The initial part of the road is in good condition. But back in November 2018 there was extensive road work redo the surface of the road. So instead of paved roads you might ride on stones. Not pleasant and very dusty. Hopefully this will be completed, as otherwise it is a nice road to ride with some nice places for a rest (I stopped at a little place with hammocks next to a rice field – it as lovely).
The scenery on this road after crossing the QL53 gets better and better, with rice fields everywhere. At one point the road actually crosses rice fields on either side. It was just stunning – especially as we could see how hard the locals work on the field.
Unfortunately after getting onto DT907 you need to ride on the busy QL54 to get to Can Tho. This road was a reminder why i prefer avoiding the highways. You really have to be very careful here and lorry and bus drivers in Vietnam are not famous for the driving skill. I got nearly hit twice by minibuses. For this stretch be careful
At some point you will spot a very large and impressive bridge on your left – Can Tho Bridge. This one will lead you into Can Tho. For me it was not that obvious how to get to the bridge, but it is very easy. Follow the QL54 over the bridge crossing QL1A, and then turn left at the first junction which will lead you onto the QL1A and the bridge.
And this is certainly one of THE highlights. This is one of the largest cable-stayed bridge in the region and gateway to the largest city of the Mekong Delta. Crossing it, especially during sun set is something different. I stopped on the bridge for some photos, though i am not sure it is allowed. But with that view it would be a shame not to do so….
After crossing the bridge remain on the QL1A until you can turn right onto QL91c and after crossing another (smaller) bridge turn right and you will head into the main tourist area of the city and the beautiful riverfront of Can Tho.
Can Tho is one of, if not the most popular tourist destination in this area. One of the reason might be the various floating markets in the area, the amount of good accommodation and the proximity to other interesting places which makes it a good base. I stayed there twice now – and I really like this city.