Vĩnh Long City is the capital of Vĩnh Long Province in Southern Vietnam. A sleepy and dusty town, it has recently known as an eco-tourist destination, very popular with day trippers from HCMC. Vĩnh Long Province itself is one of the smaller provinces on the Mekong River Delta with total area of 1480 sq km but it’s densely populated, about 1 million inhabitants as of 2010. It lies 130 km southwest of HCMC on the Tiền River (Sông Tiền), one of the two branches of the Mekong River. The main ethnic group is Kinh (as 88% of Vietnamese are nationally) but there are also significant number of Cantonese-speaking ethnic Chinese as well as Khmer (ethnic Cambodians).
Vĩnh Long contributes to the nation’s history as part of the historic settlement of the Mekong River Delta as Vietnam expanded southward in the 18th and 19th centuries. A large part of its recent past has either been lost or poorly documented and thus, invisible to tourists, and to an extent, even ordinary town people. French colonial influence can still be seen in architecture as many old French buildings (now government offices and private residences) are scattered over the city. Chinese influence is strong with many Chinese temples, Chinese-own businesses (e.g. traditional Chinese medicine stores) and southern Chinese dishes and snacks. Many beautiful and serene Buddhist temples attribute to its strong Mahayana Buddhist heritage. Vinh Long produces two (Phạm Hùng and Võ Văn Kiệt) out of only six prime ministers since 1975, no small achievement for a place very few people have heard of.