Chau Doc is an oasis of simplicity and tranquillity when compared to its burgeoning Mekong Delta neighbor, Can Tho. Peaceful nature walks , quiet retreats and bucolic landscapes are among its main attractions. This quiet Mekong Delta town is also a hotspot of cultural diversity. As result of its fairly recent addition to Vietnamese geography and its location near the border with Cambodia, the town still retains a sizeable Khmer population. This, together with the presence of other groups like the Cham and Chinese make the city a melting pot of cultures.
Just a short ride from Chau Doc, the Tra Su Protected Nature Reserve is unlike any other. It is a forest, but it is in the water. And while mangrove tours are common in tropical countries, in Tra Su most of the trees are not mangroves but cajuput trees. It looks different, more ephemeral, surreal. The standard way to tour the forest is by boat, but there is also an extensive network of bamboo trails that criss-cross the area, if you are looking for a more in-depth exploration.
Tri Ton Gate or “Heavens Gate” (pictured above) has increasingly become an attractive check-in point for visitors to the area. Located in Chau Lang commune, not far from Chau Doc, the Khmer style gate welcomes pilgrims to Koh Kas temple. Its beautiful carvings and eye-catching colors stand out amidst the vast sky and the surrounding green paddy fields.
Go across the river to visit a Muslim Cham village. The modern Cham people are the descendants of the powerful Cham Pa Kingdom, an empire that stretched from Hue to the south of Vietnam from the 7th to 18th centuries. Walk around the village to see the local mosque, observe the divergence of Cham-style stilt homes as well as their modest colorful style of dress.
Go on a cycling tour along quiet roads. Time travel through small rural villages, rice fields and orchards. This experience is ideal for the photography aficionados looking to capture the timeless spirit of Vietnam. Go further afield and visit Sam Mountain. Nui Sam as the locals call it, its a pilgrimage place that offers a cluster of pagodas to explore. The journey uphill itself is much fun, and you will be rewarded with an exquisite view of the rural landscape.