Chau Doc Travel Guide
3,406 sq. km.
Population: 2,146,800 habitants (2003)
Regional code: 076
Capital: Long Xuyen City.
Town: Chau Doc.
Districts: An Phu, Tan Chau, Phu Tan, Chau Phu,
Tinh Bien, Tri Ton, Cho Moi, Chau Thanh, Thoai Son.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Cham, Hoa.
An Giang Province is located to the west
of the Mekong Delta between the Tien and Hau rivers and shares a
100km border with Cambodia in the north – west. It also shares
border with Dong Thap Province in the east, Cantho City in the
south – east, and Kien Giang Province in the south – west.
An Giang has two main types of
topography: midland areas and low mountains. The low mountains
is Bay Nui (Seven Mountains) in Tinh Bien and Tri Ton districts.
Vinh Te Canal runs along with the province’s border in the west,
which connects from Chau Doc to Ha Tien.
An Giang is divided into two seasons: the rain (from May to
November), and the dry (from December to April next year). The
annual average temperature varies 27ºC. The highest temperature
is 35ºC – 37ºC from April to May and the lowest ones is 20ºC –
21ºC from December to January next year. The annual rainfall is
1,400 – 1,500mm.
Chau Doc sits at the junction of
a tributary linking the Bassac and Mekong Rivers and the Bassac
River itself. An incredibly friendly and bustling little city,
Chau Doc has a colour scheme to match its ambience, with bright
pastel hues of green, blue and purple adorning many of the newer
shopfronts. If you're arriving here from Cambodia, be prepared
for the shock into technicolour paradise.
Chau Doc locals are known for being very warm and approachable
-- even the xe dap loi drivers, as pestering as they are, are
friendly. English is spoken in most of the foreigner-targeted
guesthouses and hotels, and most restaurants have an English
A highlight of a visit to Chau Doc is a boat trip on one of the
small paddle boats that collect near the western end of the
park. For a few dollars an hour they'll paddle you around the
many floating raft houses and fish farms. Doing this at dawn can
be very photogenic and rewarding.
A second attraction, just outside Chau Doc, is Sam Mountain --
more of a hillock in fact -- which has reasonable views over the
surrounds. The views are pretty rather than spectacular, though
when combined with a visit to the pagodas around the hill's
base, this makes a worthwhile afternoon jaunt.
Chau Doc is also the closest large town to the
Vietnamese/Cambodian river border crossing. If you're heading to
or from Phnom Penh by boat, you'll pass through Chau Doc, so try
to allow for an overnight stay.
Chau Doc Boat Trips
As you walk along
the Bassac River towards the grandiose Victoria hotel you'll
find no end of people trying to get you to hire their little
boat to go out and see the fish farms which are common here. At
around $2 an hour this isn't a bad way to experience river life
but go early in the morning so that you can catch the river
Instead we chose to take a tour with the owner of the 'English
Bookstore'. We met at his shop at 7am and walked down to the
river where his friend's boat was waiting for us. First of all
we headed south east along the river beyond the Victoria Hotel
and met up with the approaching floating market. Our boat got
right into the action and we were able to step onto one of the
trader's boats as they sold all manner of fresh fruits and
From here we crossed the river and went to see the floating fish
farm houses which have fish cages under the living area. We then
visited a Cham village and its mosque before returning to Chau
Doc. This 2.5 hour private tour cost us just $7 for the two of
The other main
tourist attraction of Chau Doc is Sam Mountain which is 6km from
town so you'll need some transport. On our first night we were
'stalked' by one of the cyclo riders who seemed to pop up no
matter which street we were on. He wanted $5 to take us to the
mountain so we agreed to meet him the next afternoon and head
there for sunset.
The cyclo rider picked us up at 3.30pm arriving with his wife
and Downs syndrome daughter. The poor bloke works 24 hours a day
to support his family as as his wife has to stay at home to look
after their child. They could put her in a government school but
then they'd never see her again. The cyclo man just puts his
situation down to Lord Buddha and just gets on with it with a
big smile on his face. A lesson to us all!
A couple of moped riders gave us a push on the way to the base
of Sam Mountain then our man showed us around Tay An Pagoda, the
Temple of Lady Xu and the Tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau. The moped
drivers then took us to the top of Sam Mountain (for a small
fee) then waited for us so that we could watch the sunset over
the endless padi fields with Cambodia in the distance.
It was a hard cycle back in the dark without the help of the
mopeds, even more so when we got a puncture. When we paid the
rider more than he'd asked for and paid for his puncture to be
repaired ($7.50 in total) he seemed quite concerned and informed
us that we'd given him more than we'd agreed and wanted to be
sure that we were aware of it!
Ba Chuc is situated between Chau Doc and Long Xuyen where there
is a temple and ossuary dedicated to over 3,000 Vietnamese that
the Khmer Rouge massacred in September 1978. It is very moving
and well worth visiting.
Bay Bong Restaurant -
tasty and westerner friendly
This popular restaurant claims to specialise in Southern
Vietnamese cuisine and is easy walking distance from the centre
of town. While untried, their hot pots looked excellent and
there is a reasonably priced English-language menu. A friendly,
comfortable option and very popular with travellers. It is
mentioned in most guidebooks.
Type of Food: Vietnamese /
Add: 22 Thuong Dang Le
St, Chau Doc - An Giang
Tel: (076) 867 271;
Hong Phat Restaurant -
good rolls, loads of flies
This small hole-in-the-wall does reasonable spring rolls, but
the rest of the food on display was fly-blown enough to turn off
even the most determined. Try Lam Hung Ky just down the road if
the flies put you off.
Type of Food: Vietnamese /
Add: Chi Lang St, Chau
Doc - An Giang
Juice stalls -
Wash down a meal from one of the nearby restaurants with a fresh
fruit smoothie from one of the stalls clustered around the park
pagoda. We tried the stall with the Christmas lights and their
mango smoothie with a hint of sour sop hit the spot. Refreshing
and cheaper than water.
Type of Food: Dessert /
Add: By the square,
Chau Doc - An Giang
Que Huong Restaurant -
Just on the corner facing the square, the friendly Que Huong
does a range of Vietnamese fare with a smattering of Khmer
standards. The servings are generous and the prices reasonable.
A friendly spot.
Type of Food: Vietnamese /
Add: Bach Dung St,
Chau Doc - An Giang
Thanh Tinh -
Thanh Tinh offers a great vegetarian menu, with very good
portions of noodle soups and rice, along with very tasty spring
rolls. There is an English menu and it is a friendly spot. Watch
out for the coffee though -- they add enough sugar to bring on a
Type of Food: Vietnamese /
Add: Quang Trung St,
Chau Doc - An Giang
Hotels in Chau
Doc is one of the main entry points from Vietnam
to Cambodia, and, along with Long Xuyen, one of
the key regional centres of the An Giang
province. As such, a there are a number of
different transportation options, both to other
cities within Vietnam, and also over the border
ferry to cross into Cambodia is quite an
Chau Doc Transportation Guide gives some
background information about getting to and from
the city, along with Long Xuyen, and also
getting around within the two places. You can
also use the local transportation options to get
to Nui Sam.
Getting There & Away
bus station is located on Le Loi St., southwest
of the town. A regular bus line runs from Chau
Doc to Ho Chi Minh City's Mien Tay station
(about 6-7 hours), which includes two ferry
crossings. There are also buses from Chau Doc to
Long Xuyen (1.5 hours), Can Tho, and other
destinations throughout the Mekong Delta.
Unfortunately, there is no direct road from Chau
Doc to Ha Tien. To get there by car involves a
drive of about 8 hours via Rach Gia, or else by
boat ferry along the canal. The journey via
ferry is about 8 hours, and they run daily.
Doc is located 96km from Ha Tien, 117km from Can
Tho, 179km from My Tho and 245km from Ho Chi
Minh City (Saigon).
Boats across the Hau Giang River to Chau Giang
District leave from two separate docks. The
vehicle ferries depart from Chau Giang Ferry
Terminal, which is located at 419 Le Loi St.
Meanwhile, the smaller, more frequent passenger
ferries depart from FB Phu Hiep Ferry.
Dap Loi drivers will take you anywhere, and are
the best, quickest and cheapest way of getting
around. You should have no problem finding them
- they'll find you! Be sure to negotiate a price
before starting your journey.
Ngo Festival - An Giang province
According to the Khmer
people, the 15th day of the tenth lunar month marks
the end of their year. Khmer people in Vietnam's
southern Mekong Delta celebrate this event with
ceremonies, feasts and Ngo boat races.
On the Khmer New Year's
Eve, villagers gather in the grounds of their local
pagoda, in a treeless area. The moon is invited to
watch the ceremonies, which begin with the
construction of a bamboo archway, decorated with
leaves and flowers. Beneath this arch stands a table
on which villagers place offerings of bananas,
coconuts, sweet potatoes, cassava and, most
importantly, new sticky rice.
When the moon appears, an old man lights incense and
candles and prays to the Moon Deity. Following this
prayer, children kneel and raise their clasped hands
to the moon. The host of the ceremony places chunks
of sticky rice in the children's mouths, pats them
on the back and tells them to make a wish. These
wishes are said to foreshadow the fate of the
community in the coming year.
Following this ceremony, the festivities begin.
Lantern-rockets, made of paper and powered by
burning oil, careen into the air. Candles are lit
and the dripping wax, collected on banana leaves, is
used to predict the weather. Rafts made of banana
leaves are released on canals. And like at all
successful festivals, the rice wine flows freely.
The following day features Ghe Ngo (Ngo boat) races.
The long, slim boats, often made from the
hollowed-out trunk of a Sao tree, each hold about 50
men. Prior to the race, people place incense and
candles on the boats and, accompanied by a
traditional orchestra of gongs, perform various
ceremonies to choose the boats' captain and crew.
One man is chosen to sit on the prow, where he will
pray to the gods and entertain the rowers. The races
themselves are thrilling, as the rowers push
themselves to the limit, encouraged by the jubilant
cheers of the crowd.
Ben Thanh tourist
Ox - Race Festival of
the Khmer Ethnic Group - An Giang province
Ox-race is a typical
sport of the Kho-Me ethnics in Bay Nui - An Giang
province. It is organized at (Don Ta) Festival from
the 9th to 10th of October every year. Don Ta is a
traditional great festival of the Khmer to
commemorate their forefathers.
the festival, the Khme
drift paper boats, organize x-race. Before the race,
a large area is chosen, (200 in long, 100 in wide,
with some water) and plowed and harrowed to make it
slippery. The area is protected by low walls, there
are safety gates for oxen. The race-way is 120 in
long, close to the walls. Starting-point is fixed
with two flags. The oxen that start from which color
have to arrive at the same one. Before the race, the
owners agree and draw lots to decide the
regulations. During the race, the oxen that do not
follow the race-way are decided to lose and those
that step op the scaffolding of others are decided
to win, the owner has to stand firm, if he falls
down from their scaffolding, he is decided to lose.
Before the race, the couples of oxen have to run
round the ground twice to the starting-point, the
owner, with 3cm long rod, touches the ox, getting
pained, the oxen run forwards. The faster the speed,
the more interesting is the race. Unlike the
horse-race, in horse-race, a man on the horse back
and the man to win is the first arrival. The race
starts in the early morning, the locals arrive at
the point earlier. Distant people come from the day
before, they bring with them food, foodstuffs only
to enjoy the whole race. There are no seats for
spectators, only a place to stand. The ground is
crowded, shouting, hand-clapping is heard all the
time, especially at heart-breaking, moments.
An Giang, a land of beautiful landscapes and
historic relics of which ox-race is typical one, not
only for the Khmer ethnics, but for the whole
Chua Xu Festival - An Giang province
Xu Festival - An Giang province
The festival of Ba Chua
Xu (also called the Via Ba Ceremony) is held
annually from the 23rd night to the 27th day of the
4th lunar month. To go to the festival, head along
Road No.10 from Long Xuyen to Chau Doc. Sam Mountain
is 5 kilometers away from Chau Doc. Also, one can
take the waterway from Can Tho to Soc Trang, or from
On the night of April
23rd, there is a bathing and changing of robes
ceremony for the statue of Ba Chua. The bathing
water is scented and Ba Chua's old clothes are cut
into small pieces to distribute to visitors and
pilgrims. The small pieces of clothes are considered
lucky, keeping one in good health and driving away
After this ceremony is the Tue Yet Rite, which
starts at midnight on the 25th and continues into
the early morning of the 26th. This rite petitions
Ba Chua's nomination to the heavens with an imposing
procession of dragon dances. The Imperial Sedan
Chair is taken to Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb for a chanting
ritual before being taken back to the shrine of Ba