Tân Châu, Vietnam
A regular stop on Mekong River cruise itineraries, Tân Châu is famous for its luxurious silk production, which has been in place since the town's founding in 1757, and you'll be able to purchase items right at the source. Beyond its traditional factories and artisans, Tân Châu is a vibrant little Vietnamese river town that’s filled with charm.
What We Love
Open Streets: As is the case with other towns in Vietnam, Tân Châu is enormously walkable. Your river cruise line might even arrange a rickshaw ride through its streets, pulled by residents who can pedal a bicycle carrying a large adult faster than most of us could pedal ourselves.
Authentic Markets: Don’t forget to check out the local market, but do bring a strong stomach. You may see things — such as a woman bleeding a snake — to which Western eyes are unaccustomed.
Best Known For
Silk Factories: A visit to one of Tân Châu’s many silk factories is a must, and is almost guaranteed to be offered as a scheduled shore excursion. Handwoven into traditional patterns, the local silk is typically dyed in bright colors that take on an almost Caribbean appearance. The crème de la crème, though, is a dark black silk that gets its color from mulberries. Known as “Heavenly Beauty,” this is one of the most prized silks in all of Tân Châu.
Woven Mats: If silk isn’t your thing, have a look at the artisans who weave reed-like sedge grass into mats.
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Who It's Best For
Silk Lovers: If you’re in the market for some fine examples of the craft of silk weaving, this is the place to get it.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Scooters Are Everywhere: As is the case throughout Vietnam, tourists are under constant threat from the ubiquitous scooters that zip through the streets with what many might consider reckless abandon. The best strategy: Walk with purpose and keep moving. Don’t ever stop in the middle of a street or suddenly change direction; doing so is a good way to get hit.
Aaron Saunders is a Calgary-based contributor to ShermansCruise.com.