Cần Giuộc district in Long An Province, Vietnam: City Review

Can Giuoc district (technically Cần Giuộc district) in Long An Province is a small hamlet on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, approximately 15 kilometers from District 1. Tourists don't usually make it that far away, so you can be sure all of your experiences will be "authentic" (re: in Vietnamese). The options are a bit limited, but what was there surprised us with its quality. It is an interesting place (or at least a place) to visit if you are eager to get off the beaten path and exist in a bit of quiet countryside.


It is important to note, if you are planning on spending much time in the countryside outside Ho Chi Minh City you are going to need to find a way to communicate with people who probably do not speak any English. Monica had been learning Vietnamese for two months prior to our move and her language skills were put to the test daily. Pro Tip: If you really can't communicate and absolutely need to get your point across, find groups of children. They learn a little English in school and in any large group there is often at least one gregarious and eager boy or girl who goes above and beyond in their studies (or love of Marvel movies) and can/will have some level of communication in English.

Contrary to this picture, he loved talking to us.

As you may have gathered by reading our other posts, we are not on vacation. We are on life (and yes, all of you who have read our other city reviews, we will always make that joke), so we didn't do all the touristy stuff. If you really want to go there and spend loads of money (that one too!), then we won't help you much here.

If you are unsure about what the categories are referring to and you'd like a bit more clarification, then click here to see an in depth explanation of what we are on about. In fact, go ahead and check out the explanation even if you are pretty sure you've got a handle on it. It is here (and here [and here!]).

Enough of this "introduction" crap! Let's get on to the review!


How'd Can Giuoc, Long An Province do?



Affordability

Vietnam in general is a cheap country. Nearly everything you could ever want to buy is cheaper than we'd ever have expected it to be.

We've talked about this before, but if you are willing to pay more for something, someone will take your money. That's called human nature. Or economics. Whatever.

So the key to getting things at their cheapest is to not appear to be willing to pay more than things are worth, and the easiest way to do that is to go where the locals are.

And the locals are definitely in Long An Province. We were such a novelty that people would have heard about us before they ever saw us and we'd end up with scooters filled with people driving by and exclaiming, "Oh, those are the westerners I've heard about!" Except in Vietnamese. We assume. Actually, we can't confirm any of that story, since that was a little beyond Monica's grasp of the language. Good story though.

The point? Ummm.... oh yeah! Long An Province was super-duper cheap.

Easily the best noodles we had in Vietnam were purchased from a cart on the side of the road and cost us a staggeringly cheap 30k VND, which is like $1.30. That's for both of us total. And we are talking it had dumplings and bean sprouts and large chunks of roast pork and two different types of noodles and other great stuff in it. Like really good.

YAAAAASSS

We found a gym that charged us 15k VND (about 75 cents) per visit, so we bought a month membership for about $8 USD each.

These are just examples, but everything else was like this too.

Conclusion- Feel like a billionaire, move to Long An Province!


AFFORDABILITY SCORE - 5

Fried chicken with rice... sometimes the good things in life
don't need to be that complicated :)



Weather

A lot of places in the world have a crappy time of the year, and we don't go there then.

If winter sucks, we go in summer. If monsoon sucks, we go during the dry season. If the weather always sucks, we don't go at all.

So, for us, the weather was pretty alright, but that doesn't mean it will be so for you if you went. It would depend on the time of year, yeah?

The days got pretty darn hot, and the shade was hard to come by. This meant the mornings and evening were a good time to run and get some food, but between about 11am and 4pm it was hard to do much other than exist. And sweat.

Finally time to move around!

We knew what we were signing up for when we traveled to Vietnam, so this didn't take us unawares. Normally an unbearable hot time midday warrants a single point removed, but Long An Province didn't have any freaking trees or awnings or any kind of shade at all! For that, we have to take an additional point off.

Conclusion- A day in Long An Province is kinda like an Oreo, except one where the cookies are pleasant and the cream kinda sucks.

WEATHER SCORE - 3




Walkability

Streets are quite the good place to walk, except for all the cars. Well, Can Giuoc in Long An Province doesn't have that many cars!

In short, there are no sidewalks.

There are only a few major roads through the area, and all the minor roads (or pseudo-roads... more of a well worn path too small for much other than a scooter) are really only used by people getting to and from a major road to their home. That is a roundabout way of saying they aren't very busy.

(unless you consider chicken traffic)

In addition to the general lack of congestion, people riding these roads follow what we assume is the Vietnamese rules for safe driving: Don't die, don't kill anyone. So walking along the road never felt scary or like we were too exposed.

At night, with all the drunkos racing to finish their case of beer before jumping on a scooter to speed home, it can be a little more unsettling. But we generally didn't go out too late and thus didn't have to worry about it very often.

Conclusion- Walking is super safe and easy, but be home before dark!

WALKABILITY SCORE - 4




Free Activities

When we talk about free activities, we are talking about the proverbial park bench or sandy beach or glorious vista overlooking a mountain. Give us something nice to look at and a free place to sit and look at it.

Can Giuoc district in Long An Province, much like Ho Chi Minh City proper, has loads of very cheap things to do. Meals will cost you less than a buck, beer around a quarter, and movies only a few dollars.

But cheap ain't free.

And we never did find much of anything to do that didn't require purchasing a coffee or a sandwich or some noodles.

We had to buy a beer to watch the dogs, and that's about as close as you get to free entertainment.

Conclusion- Cheap is great and all, but it isn't quite free.

FREE ACTIVITIES SCORE - 1




Accessibility

How easy was it to get into Vietnam in the first place and then make our way to Long An Province?

So-so.

The visa process requires a third party, some money, and a small bit of effort on our part to make sure paperwork was filled out and photos were provided. None of it was particularly difficult, but it was more difficult than doing nothing.

Once you get to Ho Chi Minh City, you then have to figure out where Long An Province even is!

But here is where it gets a bit easier than you might expect. The bus system in Ho Chi Minh City is absolutely wonderful and can get you pretty close to where you need to be. We even wrote a post about how easy it is to get around Ho Chi Minh City. That said, if you are arriving via a long flight and are a bit sleep deprived, navigating the buses might be more than you'd want to handle without a good night sleep. But once you are well rested, Ho Chi Minh City becomes your oyster, as long as there is a bus stop.

Conclusion- Eh, it's okay, just not great.

ACCESSIBILITY SCORE - 3

Telling you right now, from this cart came the best noodles in the world.


Tourism Factor

For this section, we are talking about that maddeningly difficult to define "x-factor" that combines the value of convenience and annoyance of exploitation.

Can Giuoc district in Long An Province really doesn't see that many tourists. People never quite got used to us, and even near the end of our stay there were still shop owners who would break out laughing whenever we'd try and buy stuff. "What? Westerners in my shop? That's crazy!" Or, at least I think that is probably what they were laughing about...

If we could see the thing we wanted to buy and could point to it, then we could purchase it. However, we really struggled getting those things we could not see. If we really needed it, we would mime it and Monica would try and use her Vietnamese language skills, and sometimes we succeeded.

Iced coffee successfully ordered in Vietnamese!

The other thing we noticed is whenever we would go to a restaurant, because we had a hard time specifically ordering (no menus with pictures and sometimes no menus at all), we would usually be given the most expensive option. For instance, if we went to pho place (noodle soup), they would automatically give us all the proteins instead of just one. This usually costed about 10k VND (40 cents) more per person and never bothered us in the least. In fact, if we could have communicated better, we probably would have preferred the more expensive option anyway!

Conclusion- Absolutely no tourism factor, as it turns out, isn't that bad! But, it can be confusing.

TOURISM FACTOR - 3


And that's it!

Pin me!

Need more? Can't get enough?

Here, trying reading this post about how to fit in while in Vietnam!

Or this post about Warren's thoughts on six months of traveling!

Or maybe this old one about a day in the life of a Normal Nomad!

But really this time, that's it... 

We are done...

Don't let the door hit you on the way out. 

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