I finally made it to Cần Thơ!
Ever since my trip to Vinh Long, I’ve been wanting to see more of the Mekong Delta. I realize now the day trip I did really only covers a tiny part of this huge region! After Can Tho, I still want to see Sa Đếc and Châu Đốc, so stay tuned ;)
Anyway, my trip to Cần Thơ was a fairly brief one as I was only there for two nights to work with Azerai Can Tho and my friends’ new wellness retreat company, Ecotherapy Vietnam! Thought I’d take you through this little Saigon city escape and see what we got up during the retreat.
A City Escape to Can Tho
Day 1: Arriving to Azerai Can Tho
First and foremost, Cần Thơ is about 4-5 hours from Saigon by bus or shuttle. We had a private van and left around 8:30 AM and arrived around 12:30 PM.
When you finally reach Azerai, you actually won’t be at the property right away. You’ll actually first arrive at their welcome deck to check-in before boarding a speed boat which will take you to Con Au, the islet in Hau River on which Azerai Can Tho sits. It truly feels like you’re approaching a hidden oasis as the boat enters through some palm trees and you see the bridge and reception building nestled away.
Once we disembarked, we were greeted with fresh drinks before making our way over to the Café for a lunch inspired by the flavors of the Mekong. Starting with a fresh green mango salad followed by chicken and lemon grass soup with a kick, and a delicious caramelized fish in stir fried vegetables, everything was served family style so we could chat and get to know each other better. Everyone could also choose a healthy juice to help recover from the long morning drive.
After some assorted fruit for dessert, we all got our key cards and wandered the property to find our bungalows. There are a few different accommodation options from their garden, river, and lake bungalow rooms where you can opt for a queen bed or two twin beds to their garden, river, and Mekong villas.
I shared a garden bungalow room where we were greeted by Azerai’s signature watercolor cards and a little welcome gift by mini.Minh from Ecotherapy Vietnam. All the rooms have an open window front, so you get plenty of natural sunlight, and everything is made using local material, so it really feels as though the rooms and the property compliment the natural surroundings.
After a getting cleaned up and relaxing a bit (long car rides always seem to take it out of me!), I made my way over to the Lounge & Bar for some afternoon snacks. Azerai Can Tho has a complimentary afternoon snack every afternoon from 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm where they serve up various light desserts and snacks along with tea and coffee. I think the sorbet was dragonfruit, and it was so refreshing!
After letting things digest a bit, we had a yummy sunset yoga session on the lake with Alyona where we stretched out and I even broke quite a bit of a sweat!
Then we had some time go get cleaned up for a dinner of tuna tiradito, leeks and potato soup, and, my favorite, mushroom and tree nut ravioli. The ravioli was this unique blend of Italian and Mexican as it was made with salsa fresca, guacamole, and feta cheese. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it totally does. The head chef, Ricardo, is from Guadalajara after all and has experience all over the world.
Dessert was a sweet rice and mango pudding, and then we had the rest of the evening to relax and enjoy the slightly cooler weather in the delta.
Day 2: All about the Food
You know, looking back I didn’t intend for this day to be so food-heavy, but it totally was. What can I say? I love, love, love the Mekong Delta especially when it comes to the food here. It’s not known as the bread basket of Vietnam for no reason!
I veered from the normal program a bit and went with friends to visit Cái Răng Floating Market. They wanted to stock up on fruit before going back to Saigon, and I wanted to eat some market food as well as see what exactly a floating market entails.
Turns out even somewhere as south as Mekong Delta can get chilly if you’re rolling out to the river when it’s still dark out! If you want to do this, I highly, highly recommend longer pants and a sweater because we were freezing.
Anyway, Cái Răng floating market is about 20-30 minutes by boat from Azerai, and it’s full of wholesale vendors selling different fruits, vegetables, and food. Just check the poles sticking up from their boats to see what they’re selling. Some will even come up to the side of your boat to show you their wares.
Apparently the name “Cái Răng” comes from a Khmer word for stove. I wrote down “cà ràng” from my guide and found “Karan” online and Google Translate says “changkran,” so I’m not sure what exactly the exact original word is. But it eventually changed to Cái Răng as it was easier to say, even though cái răng actually means teeth in Vietnamese!
On you way, don’t miss getting a lil cà phê sữa đá from one of the cafe boats! Even if it’s cold, it’s worth it :P
While buying fruit we stopped to eat from one of the restaurant boats! Ours was owned by Bảy Tuổi Chị, and I ate some spicy bún thịt nướng while Tia ate bún riêu to warm up.
Once we finished with the market, we came back as the girls were finishing their morning yoga session underneath the banyan trees. Too bad it was still a little chilly, as it’s definitely the prettiest spot for yoga!
Then we all sat down for breakfast! At the moment, breakfast is ala carte instead of buffet, and you have so many good option whether you want something Vietnamese or Western. I ordered another cà phê sữa đá with a little DIY congee tray and some eggs. I’m not kidding when I said it was still quite chilly!
After breakfast, we had some free time for the rest of the morning. Some girls had their massage appointments around, and then others wandered the property (which is truly massive). I think I relaxed a bit and did a teensy bit of work.
The next event for the day was a cooking demonstration under the banyan trees. While this cooking demo was of some Western dishes, you can also request for some Mekong dishes. The full cooking class experience actually starts in the morning with a trip to the market and then a class where you can make the food yourself.
I took some photos of the class before taking advantage of the now sunny weather to swim laps in Azerai Can Tho’s gorgeous pool! I feel like it’s so much more motivating to swim when you’re surrounded by palm trees and the sun is shining, no?
After the cooking demonstration, it was time for lunch! With our fresh juices, we had a lunch that consisted of a mixed greens salad with cashews and blue cheese, tomato soup made with coconut milk, oven roasted sea bass, and a Basque-style cheesecake. I told you, today was really quite the foodie day!
Positively stuffed at this point, I spent the afternoon on the sun loungers by the pool, reading and chatting away. You’d never know how cold the morning had been by how hot early afternoon was!
This time while we had our afternoon snack, this time with wellness snacks to match our retreat, Adrien brought out his honey wine for everyone to sample with their snacks. If you’re in Saigon, check them out at L’Herbanyste or on Instagram at @pollenmessenger.
Sierra, Tia, and I then took advantage of the golden hour to have ourselves a little picnic under the banyan trees. Nothing too fancy, just some tea and fruit and attempting to read while taking some fun photos haha.
This time yoga was held in Azerai Can Tho’s yoga pavilion, which is attached to the spa. I didn’t partake in the session so I could take some photos both of the class and then enjoy insane sunset I only saw while downward dogging the day before!
For our last dinner, we had a delicious Mekong-inspired meal comprising of a lotus and prawn salad, chicken and shitake soup, and, one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes now, banh xeo! All topped off with frozen banana cake for dessert.
Like I said, it was a day full of food, so I just remember absolutely passing out as soon as I laid down in bed.
Day 3: One Last Morning in Can Tho
On our final morning, the girls did a more guided tour of Cai Rang themselves while I slept in juuuust a little. Sierra and I then did a little biking around the resort. There are free bikes available near reception, and you can just grab one and bike all around!
Our last morning was already sunny by breakfast time, so we opted to eat by the lake. I wanted to try the smoothie bowl and then we split some pancakes. Between here and Azerai La Residence Hue, I feel like the food alone is worth the price tag, every meal is just so good.
Alyona ran a shorter yoga session for anyone who wanted it after the market trip. Otherwise, it was a relaxing morning of lounging, enjoying any last bit of the resort, and, of course, packing up our things. Then we were on the road around noon to beat the worse of Saigon traffic!
Some Notes for Your Stay
1. Azerai Can Tho is in a natural setting which means there are animals that share the property!
If you’re lucky at night, you might spot some mouse deer by the river! Be sure to keep your bungalow windows closed and don’t have food out because you might just get some cheeky monkey visitors otherwise.
Unlike Azerai La Residence, which is meant to be in the perfect spot for sightseeing in Hue, Azerai Can Tho is meant to be more like a resort on a secluded island. Take advantage of all the features of the property and just enjoy!
3. It is kid-friendly.
For those of you with families, Azerai Can Tho is actually very kid-friendly! They have a whole Kid’s Center with a pool and supervision so you can enjoy your time worry-free.
4. The mosquitos in the Mekong are not shy,
Highly recommend bringing some repellent if you’re normally a magnet for them.
5. Book ahead.
It’s best to inquire about any spa treatments, yoga sessions, cooking classes, picnic spreads, and breakfasts at your bungalow or villa ahead of time. This way they have time to prepare everything for you.
6. Check Azerai Can Tho’s offers!
They have some fun stuff going for Tet, and for the time being some cool offers for residents in Vietnam! This collaboration is also the first of the wellness retreats they want to offer throughout the year, so keep an eye out for upcoming ones.
Ecotherapy Vietnam was founded by Sierra and Samphy to offer exclusive wellness retreats to some of the country’s lesser known spots! Check out their Instagram or Facebook page for more upcoming retreats. I might be biased because they’re my friends, but I’ve been on two trips now that Sierra has planned, and I can guarantee she knows what she’s doing ;)!
for more vietnam travel
Gosh, I’ve really fallen for this country! From the north to the south, there’s just so much diversity in the landscapes and culture that you could probably live here for half your life and still find somewhere new to go. On my very first trip, I did the classic 2-ish weeks of the Ho Chi Minh City with a day trip to the Mekong, Hoi An with a trip to Danang’s Marble Mountains, a few nights in Cat Ba with a Halong Bay cruise, and a few days in Hanoi.
Now that I’ve been here for an unplanned extra year, I’ve seen even more of Saigon, including more of District 5, my favorite, and so, so much more of the country. Besides going back to Hanoi, I’ve also been to Sapa to learn about the Red Dzao tribe, Vinh Long, Phong Nha, stunning Mu Cang Chai, Mui Ne and its sand dunes, historical Hue, and most recently Dalat!