For most travellers,
Vinh Long is the first place in the Mekong Delta where it’s
possible to gain a reasonable experience of the area’s distinctive
culture. Most head straight for a boat to cruise some of the
Mekong's famous canals and channels. This is a pity, for the
town itself is something of a backwater is thus worthy of
attention by those wishing to escape the commercial side of
The town has interesting
attractions, including some fine French buildings one of which
is of singularly unusual design. From there, a 2km stroll
will take you to the Temple of Literature. Although not on
the scale of Hanoi's Van Mieu, it is nevertheless a good example
of nineteenth century Vietnamese architecture. The temple
is dedicated to Confucius – unusual in the south of Vietnam.
It will probably be locked, so you'll need to ask your guide
to find out who has the key.
A bonus is an opportunity
to explore some of the tiny back streets on the way to and
from the temple. Watch out for some of the traditional Mekong
crafts: you might get an explanation over tea with the locals,
and maybe a chance to try your hand.
The Vinh Long Cong
Than Temple, destroyed by the French, was later rebuilt and
is unique in retaining 85 official diplomas bestowed upon
local mandarins during the reigns of Kings Thieu Tri and Tu
The 5,000 troops
of the US Army 9th Infantry Division arrived in Vietnam on
December 16, 1966, landing on the beaches along the south
bank of the Co Chien River at Vinh Long. Little remains of
their nine-year presence apart from some rusting remains in
front of an unappealing local museum.
Many of the surrounding
hamlets within easy reach have interesting temples and communal
The main targets
for visitors to Vinh Long are the boat trips and floating
markets, both of which are ‘must-see’ elements of an itinerary.
However, those of a more independent disposition would probably
enjoy taking a short ferry trip to An Binh Island (which is
nothing of the sort – it’s a vaguely-defined collections of
pocket handkerchiefs of land poking up from the mud). Apart
from a good pagoda and a fish sauce
factory, wandering past and trough the orchards and scrambling
across the narrow monkey bridges
that link the islets is a delight.