It trumpets a small claim to fame as the setting for The Lover, a semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras, made into a film by Jean-Jacques Annaud.
Huynh Thuy Le Old House HISTORICAL BUILDING
(Nha Co Huynh Thuy Le; 0939 533 523; 225A Ð Nguyen Hue; admission 10,000d) This beautifully impressive 1895 house on the riverfront was once the residence of Huynh Thuy Le, the 27-year-old son of a affluent Chinese family who Marguerite Duras had a love with in 1929 when she was only 15 – eternalizing the love in The Lover. The house is a Sino-French design with intricateinternal woodwork, mother-of-pearl inlaid doors and original floor tiles, made in France.
The Chinese on the plaque in the main hall reads ‘ 中西共仰 ’, which literally means ‘China and the West admire together’, celebrating its fusion of East and West.
It’s likely to stay overnight in one of the romantic but uncomplicated rooms here; shared bathrooms are set at the rear of the possessions.
Huong Pagoda BUDDHIST TEMPLE
(Chua Huong; Ð Hung Vuong) Chua Huong, the Perfume Pagoda, was built in a antique Chinese style in 1838. Marguerite Duras fans should look for the shrine of Huynh Thuy Le, the real-life inspiration for the lover in her book – though you may find it hard to tell from the photos of the septuagenarian and his wife.
A bright white statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat stands on a pedestal between this and the adjacent Buu Quang Pagoda (Ð Hung Vuong), which is somewhat less glamorous.
(Vuon Hoa; 7am-5pm) The nurseries organize year-round, even though they are practically stripped bare of their flowers just before the Tet festival. Domestic visitors from HCMC arrive in droves on Sundays and the nurseries are a main landscape appeal around the Tet festival .
Marigolds are bought in abundance to temples and the nurseries are swamped with water during the flood season, when gardeners get around by boat. There are many little operators lining the river and canals here, each with a dissimilar speciality. It’s wonderful to swing by in the early morning and watch the plants being loaded on to boats. A motor bike from town will cost around 20,000d.
Cao Dai Temple
(102 Ɖ Le Loi; 6am-9pm) On the far side of the Sa Dec River, the drum tower of this Cao Dai temple is well worth a climb for glorious riverine views of town.
Sleeping & Eating
Phuong Nam HOTEL $
(067-386 7867; [email protected]; 384A Ð Nguyen Sinh Sac; s 200,000-220,000d, d 270,000-350,000d) This minihotel on the highway has rooms ranging from tiny cheapies with tiny bathrooms and balcony, to big rooms with wooden floors. Twitchy wi-fi.
Bong Hong Hotel $
( 067-386 8288; [email protected]; 251A Ð Nguyen Sinh Sac; r with fan 320,000d, r with air-con 420,000-550,000d, ste 840,000d) The upperrooms with balconies are the most appealing at this hulking, cheerless hotel with midlewed fan rooms. Breakfast is included and there are tennis courts under palm trees next door.
Sa Dec Hotel $
( 067-386 1430; [email protected]o.com.vn; 499 Ð Hung Vuong; r with fan 200,000d, r with air-con 260,000-300,000d, ste 400,000-500,000d) Fan rooms with balcony are a bargain at this chipped and scuffed government-owned pad with once-groovy 1970s styling and funky spiral staircase.
Nha Co Huynh Thuy Le GUEST HOUSE $$
( 067-377 3937; [email protected]; 225A Ð Nguyen Hue; s/d 650,000/900,000d) With top marks for beauty , this wonderful chunk of heritage on the riverfront revels in a fusion of Chinese and West. Fan rooms are simple and there are only four in all. Shared bathrooms are placed at the rear of the property. No TV or phones in rooms, but staff say wi-fi ‘is coming’.
Night Market VIETNAMESE $
(Ɖ Nguyen Hue; 5pm-late) The hopping riverside night market has a lively string of hotpot restaurants come evening. Expect to pay around 20,000d for grilled chicken, 40,000d for grilled squid and 10,000d for a beer.
Quan Com Thuy VIETNAMESE $
(067-386 1644; 439 Ð Hung Vuong; mains 50,000-100,000d; 9am-9pm) This famous meat-and-rice joint offers aluminium furniture, bright decorations and a dependable menu.
Getting There & Away
Sa Dec is midway between Vinh Long, Chau Doc and Long Xuyen – even though getting to the latter two requires a ferry crossing.Sa Dec Bus Station (Ben Xe Sa Dec) is on Hwy 80, instantly southeast of the centre. Services head to Vinh Long (13,000d), Cao Lanh (15,000d) and Ho Chi Minh city (65,000d to 95,000d).