My Tho, is the capital of the Tien Giang province in Southern Vietnam. It is the first city in the Mekong Delta travellers from Ho Chi Minh City will arrive and hence a popular spot for dropping tourists on one of the many Mekong boat tours. For its closeness to Ho Chi Minh City everything is more expensive here than further inside the delta such as Vinh Long and Can Tho.
Mỹ Tho (About this sound listen) is the capital city, center of economics, education and technology of Tiền Giang Province, located in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. It has a population of approximately 169,000 in 2006 and 220,000 in 2012. The majority ethnic is the Kinh, and some of the Chinese, the Cham and the Khmer. Boat rides on the Mỹ Tho River are popular with tourists, and the city is known for hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho, a type of soup.
Mỹ Tho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing China mainland, when the general of the Qing Dynasty Shi Lang defeated the remnants of Southern Ming Dynasty in 1683. The area, at the time, was once part of the Khmer kingdom and it was annexed to Vietnam in the 18th century. The city is named after the Mỹ Tho River. In Sino-Vietnamese script, the name is given as 美萩 (beautiful tree). Due to its proximity to Saigon, Mỹ Tho was the traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta.
In the 17th century, the city had become one of the biggest commercial hubs in today's Southern Vietnam.
In 1860s, Mỹ Tho, along with Saigon, was a major strategic city during the French colonial campaign towards Vietnam. In 1862, France's capture of Mỹ Tho is regarded as the conclusion to the establishment of the French colony of Cochinchina, a development that inaugurated nearly a century of French colonial dominance in Vietnam. During the colonization period, the economy continued to prosper, attracting more immigrants, mainly from Teochew and Minnan.
Mỹ Tho City is recognized as a grade II in October 7, 2005.
Mỹ Tho is connected to the rest of the country by National Route 1A and Tiền River. In here, people mainly use motorcycles, bicycles and boats for transportation. Mỹ Tho has the first railway route (about 70km long) in Vietnam which was one of the most modern transport means in the world linking Saigon and Mỹ Tho, put into use in 1885. However, it was destroyed in 1960s.
By road, Mỹ Tho City is 70km from Vĩnh Long Province, 70km from Ho Chi Minh City, 103km from Cần Thơ, 179km from Châu Đốc, 182km from Rạch Giá, 132km from Long Xuyên. Mỹ Tho and Bến Tre are connected by Rạch Miễu Bridge.
By river, there are many short boat trips to various islands, Bến Tre, and floating markets in the surrounding areas. It also has overnight long boats to Châu Đốc and Long Xuyên.
Today the economy is based on tourism, fishing, and agricultural products such as coconuts, bananas, and longans.
During World War II the French Vichy government interned foreign nationals in Mỹ Tho. In May 1945, the Japanese seized control of the camps fearing an allied attack. Foreign nationals were confined throughout the war. As the regional capital Mỹ Tho is the main market dealing in all the produce from the region as well as fish and seafood from Mỹ Tho's large ocean-going fishing fleet. The very large and exuberant market is one of South Vietnam's biggest sources for dried fish and other dried seafood products such as Kho Muc (dried squid). At night the market is dedicated to the dealing and sorting of Mekong River fish, particularly catfish for Hồ Chí Minh City's wholesale markets. Produce, especially fruit and vegetables, is delivered by boat directly to markets. It is a popular starting point for tourists to take a boat trip on the Mekong River.
Mỹ Tho was the subject of "The Lesson", a chapter in a memoir by Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War, describing the events of the 1968 Tet Offensive there.