A few old ferry terminals which once dotted major routes in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta have been turned into tourist attractions, jolting the local economy with new jobs and a renewed vitality.
The ferries which used these old terminals were integral to the growth of each town they served, particularly as large bridges were only introduced to the region in relatively recent times.
Thanks to a master plan to integrate the Mekong Delta into Vietnam’s national road network through the construction of 17 bridges by 2020, people in the region are now able to easily cross over the vast maze of rivers.
Left in the wake of these mega structures are the once bustling ferry terminals, a relic of the past and a link to the region’s history.
Tien Giang’s special fruit supermarket
Sharing the same fate as many other ferry terminals across the Mekong Delta, the Rach Mieu ferry station has been inactive for the past decade, since the inauguration of a cable bridge over the Tien River connecting Tien Giang Province with Ben Tre Province.
Now, the neglected dock is expected to get a facelift after the Tay Bac Investment Company takes over the location to launch a special fruit supermarket.
According to Tay Bac’s Tien Giang branch director Nguyen Van Tu, the special fruit supermarket will be built on the thoroughfare which leads to the old station, and centered in the middle of a two-and-a-half-kilometer residential area along the Tien River.
The three-story building will house 40 stalls specializing in the special fruits, one of the Mekong Delta’s major draws.
“The third floor will operate as a space for handicrafts and a zone for visitors to rest and enjoy the fruits,” said Tu.
“The project is now under construction and we expect it to be completed in the third quarter of 2018,” Tu revealed.
Many local people expressed their excitement for the new fruit supermarket, which they expect will become a highlight for visitors to My Tho, the capital of Tien Giang.
“When we heard that they were building a new fruit supermarket in this area, I was very glad because I hope to see the old ferry station bustling again,” said Nguyen Thi Be Muoi, a My Tho resident.
Night market at Can Tho ferry terminal
In nearby Can Tho, a night market near the old Can Tho ferry terminal has become a renowned destination for tourists to the namesake Mekong Delta city over the past three years.
The night market’s location used to be a busy zone before the Can Tho ferry terminal linking Vinh Long Province and Can Tho across the Hau River was replaced by a cable-stayed bridge.
The night market, which opens daily at 4:00 pm, spans an area of over 900 meters housing about 200 stalls of vendors who mainly sell fruit and seafood.
According to Huyen, a fruit vendor at the night market, visitors often flock to the venue between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm.
Vendors at the market give customers cans of different sizes depending in how much money they are willing to spend, usually VND20,000, VND30,000 or VND40,000. Then, the customer can freely choose the fruit until the can is full. (US$1 = 23,250)
In addition, the night market is also decorated with a system of lights worth nearly VND2 billion ($86,000) and has art performances on the weekend to attract visitors.
Six electric buses also help carry tourists from the Ninh Kieu quay, a famous attraction in Can Tho, to the night market.