Since the Cambodian border opened just a few kilometers from town, Chau Doc became a popular destination, and is the only province, aside from Can Tho, that foreign visitors come in large numbers. Cuddled on the west bank of the Hau Giang River, the town was under the Cambodians till it was given to the Nguyen lords in the mid-18th century as a reward to neutralizing a local rebellion. The area still has a Khmer community, which has lived with local Chinese and Cham to create a melting pot of cultures. Chau Doc’s religious make-up is just as diverse as its populace. There are Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, and an approximate 1.5 million believers of the Hoa Hao religion, which is indigenous to the area. Attacks led by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge to this area of the Mekong led to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1978.
On Doc Phu Thu and some streets in town, old-colonial vestiges are still seen, but the grandiose shop house terraces that flaunt their arched windows and awnings held up by wrought iron struts, are mixed with nondescript new structures.