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My Tho & Around My Tho

MY THO

Tel: 074 + Pop 169,500

Mytho, the quiet capital city of Tien Giang province, is the closest city in the Mekong Delta to HCMC, and visitors on whirlwind 10day Vietnam tours come here for day trips to catch a glimpse of the famous river. In order to visit floating markets, however, you’ll need to continue on to Can Tho ( sea the Around Cantho section later).

Being localed so close to booming HCMC, one would expect Mytho to have profited handsomely from the country’s economci reforms. Sadly , this is not the ease-Mytho is one of the poorest cities in the Mekong Delta, though it is said to have the richest government and one of the strictest police forces.

Mytho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing Taiwan for political reasons. The Chinese have virtually all gone now, having been driven out in the late 1970s when their property was seixed by the government. The economy – or what’s left of it – is based on tourism, fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, longans and citrus fruit.

Orientaion

Mytho, which sprawls along the bank of the northernmost branch of the Mekong River, is laid out in a fairly regular grid pattern.

The bus station is several kilometres west of town. Coming from the bus station, you enter Mytho on Ap Bac str, which turns into Nguyen Trai str.

Parallel to the Mekong River is 30 Thang 4 str. named for Saigon Liberation Day.

Nearby Islands

See around Mytho for information about trips to nearby Dragon, Tortoise and Unicorn Islands.

Mytho Church & Bishopric

Mytho Church ( 32 Hung Vuong str) a solid pastel – yellow building at the corner of Nguyen Trai str, was built about a century walls express thanks to Faitima and other figures.

Today, two priests, two nuns and several assitants minister to most of Mytho’s 7000 Catholics. Masses are held at 5am, 7am and 5pm on Sunday, with catechism classes in the late afternoon.

Caodai Temple

if you missed the one in Tay Ninh, Mytho has its own smaller Caodai Temple ( Ly Thuong Kiet), which is worth a look, it’s between Dong Da and Tran Hung Dao str.

Mytho Central Market

This market is an area of town along Trung Trac and Nguyen Hue str, that is closed to traffic. The streets are filled with stalls selling everything from fresh food and bulk tobacco to boat propellers. In an attempt to clear these streets, the local government has built a three-storey concrete monstrasity on the riverside, intending to relocate vendors inside. with the high rent and taxes however, there have been very few takers, and the top two floors of the building remain empty.

Chinese District

The Chinese district is around Phan Thanh Gian str, on the eastern bank of the Bao Dinh Channel. Though many people of Chinese descent remain, there is little else here to suggest that you’re in Chinatown.

Vinh Trang Pagoda

Vinh Trang pagoda ( 60a Nguyen Trung Truc str) is a beautiful and well maintained sanctuary. The charitable monks here provide a home for orphans, disable and other needy children.

The Pagoda is about 1km from the city centre. To get there, take the brigde east across the river on Nguyen Trai str.and after 400m turn left, the entrance to the sanctuary is about 200m from the turn off, onthe right hand side of the building as you approach it from the ornate gate.

Place to stay

Rang Dong Hotel: ( Tel: 874400, 25 D 30 Thang 4, air-con rooms with cold bath US$10, with hot bath US$15-20) is privately run and one of the better cheap places in town. It’s popular with budget travellers.

Both of the following government-run hotsls are definitely showing their age.

Trade Union Hotel ( Khach San Cong Doan: Tel: 874324, fax 878857, email: congdoantourist@hcm.vnn.vn, 61 str: 3 thang 4, rooms with fan/air-con US$8/10) is a large place with river views from some of the rooms. The air-con rooms come with fridge.

Song Tien Hotel ( Tel: 872009, Fax 884745; 101 Trung Trac str, fan rooms US$8-10) is another large place of a similar standard.

Chuong Duong Hotel (Tel: 870875 fax: 874250, str 30thang 4, room /suites US$25-30) is Mytho’s most luxurious accommodation offering. This spacious and attractive building boasts a prime riverside location and the food served at the in-house restaurant is respectable. All of the rooms overlook the Mekong river, making the rates rather reasonable for what you get.

Another possible option to consider is staying overnight in a bungalow on Unicorn Island ( Thoi Son); inquire at Tien Giang Tourist. There are other homestay options around Vinh Long and Ben Tre.

Place to Eat

Chi Thanh (Tel: 873756, 279 Tet Mau Than str, soups 20,000d, main 35-40,000d; open 10am – 10pm, daily) is a tidy spot for delicious and inexpensive Vietnamese fare.

Thuan Kien ( 47 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia street: main 20,000d-40,000d; open 5am – 9pm) and Cay Me ( 60 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia stre. main 25,000d-40,000d, open 7am – 9pm) are two more good local spots, but they are definitely on the messier side.

Cuu Long *( tel: 870779, 30 thang 4 street, Mains 30,000d-50,000d; open 7am – 9pm) has the advantage of being right on the shore of the Mekong River, but the food and decorleave something to be desired.

Mytho is known for a special vermicellisoup, hu tieu my tho, which is richly garnished with fresh and dried seafood, pork, cheken and fresh herbs. It is seved either with broth or dry, and can also be made vegetarian. Although it is found at almost any eatery in town, there are a handful of hu tieu speiclity restaurants (open mornings only). Carnivores will enjoy Hu Tieu 44 ( 44 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia; Soup 10,000d; open 5am – noon). While vegetarians should look for Hu Tieu Chay 24 ( 24 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia; Soup: 8,000d, open 6am-9am)

Group tours tend to congregate in larger restaurants on the outskirts of town; The Following are two of the better ones to look out for.

Getting There & Away

Bus: Mytho is seved by buses leaving HCMC from Mien Tay Bus station in An Lac, and also from the bus station in Cho lon. Buses from Cholon have the added advantage of dropping passengers right in Mytho, as opposed to the bus station outside of town.

The Mytho bus station (Ben xe Khach Tien Giang; open 4am-5am) is several kilometres west of town. To het there from the city centre, take Đ Ap Bac westward and continue on the National Hwy 1 (Quoc Lo 1). Buses to HCMC (2 hours) leave when full fro, the early morning until about 5pm. There are also daily bus services to most points in the Mekong Delta.

Car & Motorbike The drive from HCMC to Mytho along National Hwy 1, by car or motorbike, takes about two hours.

Road distance from Mytho are 16km to Ben Tre, 104km to Cantho, 70km to HCMC and 66km to Vinh Long.

Boat The car ferry to Ben tre province leaves from Ben Pha Rach Mieu station about 1km west of Mytho city centre, near 2/10A Đ Le Thi Hong Gam (the continuation west of Đ 30 thang 4). The ferry operates between 4am and 10pm and runs at least once an hour. Ten person trucks shuttle passengers between the ferry terminal and the bus station.

Getting Around

Bicycle You can rent a bicycle from Tien Giang Tourist.


AROUND MYTHO

Dragon Island

A walk through the well-known longan orchards of Dragon Island (Con Tan Long) is pleasant. The lush, palm fringed shores of the island are lined with wooden fishing boats; some of the residents of the island are shipwrights. There is a small restaurant on the island. Dragon Island is a five minute boat trip from the dock at southern end of Đ Le Loi.

Other Island

The other two islands in the vicinity are Tortoise Island (Con Qui) and Unicorn Island (Thoi Son). For booking a trip to these islands or any of the others, it’s cheapest to arrange a day tour from HCMC.

Dong Tam Snake Farm

The snake farm (admission 15,000d) at Dong Tam, about 10km from Mytho towards Vinh Long. Most of the snakes raised here are pythons adn cobras. The snakes are bred for eating, for their skins and for producing antivenin. The king cobras are raised only for exhibit – they are extremely aggresive and are even capable of spitting poison; do not get too close to their cages. The regular cobras are kept in an open pit and will generally ignore you if you ignore them, but will strike if provoked. On the other hand, the pythons are docile enogh to be taken out of their cages and “played with” if you dare, but be warned the larger ones are capable of strangling a human.

Dong Tam also has a collection of mutant turtle and fish on display. The cause of their genetic deformities isalmost certainly the spraying of Agent Orange during the American War, which was particularly intensive in the forested parts of the Mekong Delta.

Other creatures exhibited here include sea turtle, deer, monkeys, bears, crocdiles, owls, canaries and other birds. (All the names and explanations of the creatures are written in Vietnamese only).

The snake farm is operated by Vietnamese military for profit. It’s open to the public and taking photos encouraged. At your request, the staff will drape you with a large python to create that perfect photo for the loved ones back home. The restaurant at the snake farm includes cobra on the menu, and there is also a shop here where you can stock up on cobra antivenin.

The farm was formely run by a retired Viet Cong (VC) colonel named Tu Duoc. He ran the place very efficiently, but after he died in 1990 facilities have gone steadily downhill. The cages look dirty, the animals neglected and the employees dispirited. It’s certainly a sharp contrast to Bangkok’s slick Snake Institute.

You’ll need your own transport to get to Dong Tam Snake Farm. Coming from HCMC, continue for 3km beyond the turn off toMytho and turn left at the Dong Tam Junction (signposted). From the junction, fillow the dirt road for 4km, turn right and continue for 1km until you reach the snake farm. To get there from Mytho, follow Đ Le Thi Hong Gam west along the river for around 7km and just beyond the Binh Duc post office turn right and follow the dirt road for 3km to the farm.

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