Vietnam’s Most Interesting Gym is in Can Tho

I have an unusual hobby where I have to visit every single local gym I see in Southeast Asia. The equipment often leaves a lot to be desired, but the unique layouts and bizarre jury-rigged equipment appeal to my curiosity. These types of gyms seem to be where the most serious fitness buffs hang out, and the price is usually never more than 50 cents. Some high-end gyms in the region cost as much as rent, and while their amenities are impressive, they all seem almost too nice a place to do some serious exercise. They look more like cafes or hotel lobbies.

I spotted this gym in southern Vietnam. Located in a park in the heart of Can Tho, it’s evident this was

can tho gym

once some sort of government building judging by the architecture and its age. The city boasts a population of nearly 1 million, and most tourists stick to the riverside where boats depart regularly to see the incredible floating markets on the Mekong River (more on that in another post). This gym is a short walk away from the western restaurants inside a somewhat barren park. The sign on the outside gives an obvious indication of what’s inside.

For 50 cents, the gym was rather spacious with lots of weightlifting equipment and zero cardio machines. There were no Olympic bars, but there were lots of adequate plates, benches, squat racks and other essentials. The weights of the dumbbells were even clearly marked, which is a step above most gyms I’ve been to. No fans though, so things can get steamy. A big free jug of water can be used to fill up your bottles. A luxury compared to what I’m used to.

The equipment was alright, but it’s the unique design of the story building. Here are some photos to show what I mean.

The artwork throughout the place was awesome. A huge painting of a nature scene is inexplicably hung above the stairs, while a portrait of Arnold Schwarzenegger rests underneath (Arnold is all over Southeast Asian gyms).


Uncle Ho, otherwise known as Ho Chi Minh to Americans, is the first thing you see when walking in.


There’s a big balcony (with no guardrails) where people cool down.


More artwork.


Typical selection of equipment, but the place was big and had all the important basics.






I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?