Long Xuyen is the capital city of An Giang Province, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. I had been through Long Xuyen before but I had never stopped there, so continuing my quest to visit the provincial capitals of Vietnam I scheduled a visit. As a tourist it’s not somewhere you would specifically travel to, but if it’s on the way to somewhere else then why not stop for a visit. At least that’s my motto for travel.
Long Xuyen map
Places in Long Xuyen mentioned in this article.
[Map of Long Xuyen.]
Long Xuyen trip report
I first went through Long Xuyen by bus on the way to Chau Doc on the Vietnam-Cambodian border. This time I was on my way to Ha Tien to get the ferry to Phu Quoc, so I scheduled a stop in Long Xuyen. I don’t like long bus trips, so doing these short bus trips between provinces is a good way to see the country while avoiding arduous journeys.
Unfortunately for Long Xuyen, the main highway barrels through the middle of the city. There are no highway bypasses in this part of the world, so a convoy of trucks passes through the city all day. If all you were to know about Long Xuyen was this view from a bus then you wouldn’t be blamed for not thinking much of it.
The highway through the city was my only impression of the city, but I knew that surely there would be more to Long Xuyen than the highway. This highway though was doing its best to deter me. When I arrived there was a massive traffic jam due to the main highway being renovated. It was dusty and there was construction mess everywhere.
It turned out that the small street that my hotel was in was also being repaved, so I was not having a good start. As for the hotel, I’ll get to that later.
After that inglorious introduction, I was eager to get exploring. Long Xuyen is the third-largest city in the Mekong Delta (after Can Tho and Rach Gia), so there were going to be some points of interest. As I have mentioned previously about provincial cities in Vietnam, if you don’t know where to start exploring then head for the central market. Not only are they a great place to see the hustle and bustle of market activity, but they are also usually the principal landmark building of the city. The Long Xuyen market building doesn’t disappoint.
Around the market are different sections for seafood, live animals, and vegetables. It’s not a tourist market so there is no hassle walking around here.
Markets in provincial Mekong cities would have previously been on the rivers, though floating markets are slowly disappearing from the Delta region as roads are improved and markets are moved to land.
There is a floating market here, but I found it hard to find any decent information about it. Most Vietnamese travel agency sites seem to be using photos of the Cai Rang floating market to depict it. I found one blog that has been there, and they described how to visit if you are so inclined to get up early for the adventure. If you have never been to a floating market then you should visit Cai Rang in Can Tho.
Moving on from the market area I went to Nguyen Hue Street. This is the central street of Long Xuyen, and like Nguyen Hue in Saigon, this is a pedestrian street (or walking street as they are known here).
Nguyen Hue has remnants of old shophouses that hint at what the street might have looked like back in the day.
In another similarity to Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon, there is a golden statue of a historic figure. In Ho Chi Minh City there is a statue of the city namesake on Nguyen Hue, while here there is a statue of Ton Duc Thang.
Long Xuyen is famous in Vietnam for being the birthplace of Ton Duc Thang, who was the last president of North Vietnam and the first president of the reunified Vietnam. There’s a street named after him in every city in Vietnam, so naturally, he’s kind of a big deal in Long Xuyen. He was born on Ong Ho Island in the Hau River outside the city centre, and there is also a memorial museum on the island.
Apart from the market, the main architectural highlight is the Long Xuyen Cathedral.
Built in the Vietnamese Modernist style that was prominent in the mid-20th century, this is a great example of that style that can be found throughout Southern Vietnam.
I always visit cathedrals where ever I may be, and they make a good place for respite from the heat in tropical countries.
I liked the clever design of porous walls to let air circulate; an architectural consideration made in the age before air conditioning.
Outside the cathedral, there was a coconut lady waiting for me for a much-needed rehydration break.
Throughout the city, there are also lots of photogenic Buddhist temples. I had these marked on my Google Map as points to walk to.
And rounding off the religious diversity, I was surprised to find a mosque under construction near the main market. There is a small minority of Muslim communities throughout the Delta, and in the evening there was a call to prayer broadcast from this worksite.
In addition to the modernist church, there are lots of fine examples of Vietnamese Modernist architecture throughout the city. I love these old apartment blocks with rounded corners.
[140 Le Minh Nguon.]
I went down this street and found more remnants of old Long Xuyen.
I wondered what this street would have looked like today if they had been able to preserve the old shophouses. It might have been enough to put Long Xuyen on the tourist trail. I had this same thought in Sa Dec, and in other cities in the Delta as well – if only they had preserved some of the old shophouses. Here are some photos of old Long Xuyen.
Another hint for things to do in provincial capitals is to seek out the provincial museum. These are sometimes architecturally odd, and they usually include war remnants on the property.
Near the museum is a roundabout with a monument to rice, which makes up such a big part of the Mekong Delta economy.
Near the rice monument is a pleasant park with giant trees.
There is a Vincom Plaza shopping mall here, which is becoming a ubiquitous feature of Vietnamese cities. Next to that is the Marina Plaza apartment. This appeared to be the first modern highrise apartment block in the city. It was still under construction at the time of my visit, so maybe by the time you are here, there will be Airbnb apartments for rent.
Even though Long Xuyen is on one of the main branches of the Mekong, most activity happens around the rivers and canals connected to it. Some of the canals have been redeveloped to include walking paths, while many of the canals around the city still have informal housing along the riverbank.
Where to stay in Long Xuyen
I had a hard time finding accommodation here. Despite Long Xuyen not being an international or even domestic tourism destination, it thrives as a provincial hub city. Considering how many people live in surrounding rural communes and towns, Long Xuyen is the Big Smoke for many people.
[Long Xuyen at night.]
In the end, I booked lodger-style accommodation in a karaoke street. I had a bad feeling about it, and my trepidation was confirmed when the street became a rowdy party street at night. I was staying there on a Friday night, which might explain why I couldn’t find any decent hotel availability.
On my wanders around town I liked the look of the Long Xuyen Hotel. This hotel is in a renovated modernist building and it’s the best-located hotel for a short-term tourist.
The fanciest new place I saw that I wished I was staying at instead of my karaoke bunker was the Chau Khuong Hotel.
On the island where the museum and park is there is the Hoa Binh 1 Hotel. It’s a big hotel on the main road, but far back enough to be not in the traffic.
Look for more hotels in Long Xuyen.
Transport to Long Xuyen
Long Xuyen is about halfway between Chau Doc and Can Tho, following the route of the Hau River. Long Xuyen is easy to visit by local bus if you are travelling between these two cities. On the main road, there are buses passing though to either city throughout the day. There is also a frequent Rach Gia-Chao Doc bus that passes through the main road.
Less frequent is the bus to Ha Tien (my next destination on this trip). There is an infrequent service that I couldn’t find a timetable for. I saw the bus passing through town the day before, so I waited at a bus stop (pinned on the map) where the bus passes. I waited at the Highlands Coffee across the road from the bus stop, and I got a bus at 9 am for a 3 hour trip to Ha Tien.
[Waiting for the bus at Highlands Coffee.]
The main bus station is miles outside the city centre and not really useful for regional travel. The FUTA bus company is here, and they offer direct bus services to Saigon throughout the day. It takes about 4 hours to travel to the Mien Tay Bus Station in Saigon.
The nearest airport is Can Tho, and if this fantastical plan to build a railway from Can Tho to Phnom Penh ever happened it would pass through Long Xuyen. Probably not in our lifetime, so don’t wait up for it.