Long Xuyen - a provincial capital in the Mekong Delta

Long Xuyen - a provincial capital in the Mekong Delta

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.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.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).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.

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