Perched on the banks of the Bassac River, Chau Doc is a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with sizable Chinese, Cham and Khmer communities. Its cultural diversity – apparent in the mosques, temples, churches and nearby pilgrimage sites – makes it a fascinating place to explore even if you aren’t headed to Cambodia. Taking a boat trip to the Cham communities across the river is another highlight, though its addictive market and peaceful waterfront make fine backdrops to a few days of relaxing before heading out.
Owing to the popular river crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia, many travellers pass through Chau Doc.
Getting there & away
The buses from HCMC to Chau Doc leave from the Mien Tay bus station; the express bus can make the run in six hours and costs around 84, 000d.
The Chau Doc bus station (Ben Xe Chau Doc) is east of town towards Long Xuyen. Buses from Chau Doc leave here for Rach Gia (40, 000d, four hours), Ca Mau, Can Tho, Ha Tien, Long Xuyen, My Tho, HCMC, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.
Car & motorbike
By road, Chau Doc is approximately 117km from Can Tho, 181km from My Tho and 245km from HCMC.
The Chau Doc–Ha Tien road is 100km in length and is in miserable shape, but improvements were underway at research time. As you approach Ha Tien, the land turns into a mangrove forest that is infertile and almost uninhabited.
This area is considered reasonably safe during the day, but it’s not advisable to be out here after dark due to the risk of robbery in this remote, unlit area.
The drive takes about three hours, and it’s possible to visit Ba Chuc and Tup Duc en route. If you don’t plan to drive yourself, xe om drivers typically charge about US$15.
No-frills cargo boats run twice weekly between Chau Doc and Ha Tien via the Vinh Te Canal (150, 000d, eight to 12 hours), which straddles the Cambodia border; it’s an interesting 95km trip. Departures are at 5am from a tiny pier (near 60 Ð Trung Hung Dao).
Place To Visit
Chau Giang Mosque
Domed and arched Chau Giang Mosque, in the hamlet of Chau Giang, serves the local Cham Muslims. To get there, take the car ferry from Chau Giang ferry landing in Chau Doc across the Hau Giang River. From the ferry landing, walk away from the river for 30m, turn left and walk 50m.
Chau Phu Temple
In 1926 the Chau Phu Temple was built to worship the Nguyen dynasty official Thoai Ngoc Hau, who is buried at Sam Mountain. The structure is decorated with both Vietnamese and Chinese motifs. Inside are funeral tablets bearing the names of the deceased and some biographical information about them.
The Mubarak Mosque, where children study the Koran in Arabic script, is also on the river bank opposite Chau Doc. Visitors are permitted, but you should avoid entering during the calls to prayer (five times daily) unless you are a Muslim.
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