Square: 1,409 km – Population: 1.237 million (2014)
Can Tho, a city directly under the Central authorities, lies in the heart of the Mekong River Delta. More than 100 years ago, the city was dubbed “the capital city of the Southwestern Vietnam” and has now become the level-1 city. Can Tho is one of the four provinces and cities of the Mekong River Delta Key Economic Zone – the fourth key economic zone of Vietnam. Can Tho’s economic focus has traditionally been in agriculture and aquatic products, but the city’s geographical position is helping it to develop in other areas such as aquatic and hi-tech agriculture, seafood processing, travel & tourism and urban / traffic infrastructures.
Can Tho was first established as Tran Giang in 1739, under the stewardship of Mac Thien Tich, the son of governor Mac Cuu who arrived from Guangdong, China, and who quickly establishing a palace and settlement under Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. The area on which Can Tho stands was renamed several times under the Nguyen leadership, as a result of boundary changes. In 1839, the area came under the Phong Phu district, a place that was well known for its peace and prosperity.
This began one of the most stable periods in the history of Can Tho, as more people arrived to settle on the banks of the Mekong River. Boats were the main form of travel and settlers set up the first of the floating markets, which can still be seen today.
In 1867, the French broke the 1862 peace treaty, allowing them to occupy three eastern provinces. They subsequently took over the western provinces, of which Phong Phu was a part. Can Tho was officially named as a district ('arrondissement') by the French in 1876.
The city remained Can Tho until the French left the region in 1954, when it was renamed Phong Dinh during the period under the South Vietnam government of the 1960s and 1970s. The city's name reverted back to Can Tho once again, on the reunification of Vietnam in 1975.
The American forces built a small airport (Tra Noc) in 1965 and this remained a regional airport for many years. However, because of the city’s expanding economic growth and the growth of products from the Mekong Delta, the Can Tho International Airport was developed and launched in 2011.
Tourism in Can Tho is booming, with people using it as a base for boat trips on the Delta and also as a day trip place from HCMC. The city is one of floating markets and fruit stalls, and boasts many unique attractions and waterfront restaurants.
Can Tho is a large city with more than one million people in the city and surrounding areas. Even though it's quite big, there is a very compact central area where numerous hotels, markets and restaurants can be found.
Similar to other Vietnamese cities in the Delta, the central area (along Hai Ba Trung street) really comes alive after the sun goes down. During the day you won't expect to see anything that is too interesting but after dark the area becomes a gathering point for locals and tourists. The area is a great place for hanging out, eating at the various local restaurants or shopping at the numerous authentic Vietnamese stores, some of which offer excellent value for money. Overall Can Tho is a very friendly city and a much less crowded with traffic then HCMC. It’s a great place to get a feel for the "real" Vietnam.
CAN THO’S ECONOMIC HUB DEVELOPMENT
The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta City of Can Tho has untapped potential as an industrial hub for the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, according to experts. Key transportation infrastructure works that have been completed put into operation include the second-phase of the Cai Cui Port, the Nam Song Hau Road, National Road 91B, and the road that links Can Tho City and Vi Thanh City in Hau Giang Province.
Can Tho City also plans to open eight industrial parks and more than 50 credit institutions with 223 transaction offices across the city. Priority will be given to the processing industry in order to make it the key sector in industrial production, accounting for at least 96 per cent of annual industrial production value.
A high-tech park and ten new industrial zones will be constructed along with increased investment in the mechanical engineering industry. The city aims to meet all demand in the Mekong Delta for machinery maintenance and parts for farm and rice processing machines as well as industrial, transport and construction machinery for both domestic use and international export.
It’s planned that by the end of 2017, three hi-tech agricultural parks will be built in Thoi Lai and Co Do districts and 12 projects will be implemented to develop quality rice strains, breed fish and shrimp for aquaculture and expand safe fruit and vegetable cultivation. The application of international standards in agriculture when it comes to management, harvest and preservation is a high-priority.
Local wholesale and retail markets in the city and surrounding areas will be expanded with more supermarkets and shopping centers built. The city plans to seek domestic and foreign partners to create a large commercial and financial center and will expand investment into “smart city” technologies that provide government services online that will benefit local business and residents.