This river city of the Mekong Delta located on the Cambodian border is a destination full of charm and surprises and is a popular destination for travellers who want to get off the beaten track. Stopping at Chau Doc will allow you to discover another face of the Mekong Delta, to discover fabulous sites, to meet fishermen and the Cham and Khmer ethnic groups.
A flooded forest typical of the Mekong Delta, Tra Su Nature Reserve is a major ecotourism destination in the region. Stretching over approximately 850 hectares, about 30 kilometers from Chau Doc, the Tra Su Cajuput Forest is a true sanctuary offering the opportunity to reconnect with nature. To do so, embark on a rowing sampan and let yourself be led by an oarswoman along the "river road" where the water is all covered with duckweed like a large natural green carpet. It is in this poetic setting where many birds live that you will have the chance to observe. In fact, between 70 and 80 species of birds have been recorded here. In the heart of the forest is a bird-watching tower which, at a height of 10 meters, offers a bird's eye view of the entire nature reserve.
Explore the floating fishing village of Chau Doc
It is from the Côn Tiên bridge that the view is the most surprising on this floating fishing village made up of dozens of heavy floating wooden houses built together. But it is by going there by motorized sampan that one discovers best this floating village which is home, in very great majority families, of fish farmers. One can also notice under the houses the fish cages which are used as living quarters and breeding grounds for Asian catfish (Panga). Fish farming in floating cages is one of the cultural features of the Mekong Delta.
Climbing Mount Sam
This 230-metre high hill, located 6 kilometres from Chau Doc, stands out in this absolutely flat rice countryside. For those who have climbed the innumerable steps leading to the top, the reward is a breathtaking panoramic view of the Mekong Delta countryside lined with vast expanses of rice fields dotted with sugar palms. But before climbing this mountain, sacred to the Vietnamese, don't forget to discover the many temples and pagodas scattered at the base and on the sides of the hill.
+ The temple of Goddess Xu, founded in 1820 and originally built in bamboo. It was later given a tiled roof and then rebuilt in stone in 1976. Once a year, from the 23rd to the 26th day of the 4th lunar month, the temple becomes a high place of pilgrimage and many pilgrims come to make offerings to the statue of the goddess of great artistic value, dating from the 6th century.
+ The pagoda of Tay An, also located at the foot of Mount Sam, is a shrine dating from 1847 and is distinguished by the originality of its very colourful style mixing Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist forms. Inside, you can admire many wooden statues, representing Buddha or Hindu figures. The 15th day of the 1st month, the 7th month and the 10th lunar month are the days of festivities during which pilgrims from all over the country converge.
+ The Phuoc Dien pagoda, built around 1840 - 1845, was recognized as a national historic vestige in 1980. Located halfway up the western side of the mountain, the site is home to a monastery and two tombs, including that of Le Thi Tho who founded the pagoda, precede the main shrine which contains statues of A Di Da Buddha (from the past) and Thich Ca Buddha (Sakkyamuni). The second shrine is dedicated to Quân Am, Goddess of Mercy.
Meeting with the Cham ethnic minority
Take advantage of your stay in Chau Doc to meet the Cham ethnic minority. The Cham are the descendants of the civilization of the Champa kingdom which radiated on the coast of central Vietnam until the 15th century. Their territories conquered by the Vietnamese, the Cham migrated to southern Vietnam and Cambodia. The discovery of a Cham village will allow you to learn more about this people with well-preserved ancestral traditions, as evidenced by the magnificent Masjid Al Ehsan mosque in the village of Da Phuoc, built in 1937 and renovated in 1992. You will notice that the women of the ethnic group are dressed in a traditional way with beautiful coloured fabrics that cover their beautiful black hair.
Best season to visit Chau Doc :
It is best to visit Chau Doc between November and April during the dry season. Don't worry, during the rainy season, the storms are intense but brief and the sun quickly returns!