Mekong Delta Floating Markets – A Unique Cultural Experience
Tourists who heard about Vietnam floating markets may wonder why people don’t organize the market on land. However, floating market is very practical in the Mekong Delta where people mostly live by the waterways. Because of special terrain covered by the river, waterway serves as a mean of transportation and the center of economic activity as well. Boats are mainly used for both local and regional trade, bringing goods from those that produced to those that could barter and trade. Such ways of life of the riverside communities and the complex and extensive river system of the region increase number of floating markets.
The floating markets have long become an important site for people meet up exchange goods and also for some cultural activities which build up the characters of Mekong people in particular and Vietnam in general over hundreds of years. The products on floating markets are incredibly abundant and diversified but mainly are local fresh fruits and vegetables. You can see hundreds of motorized boat with full of mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, star fruits, fresh coconut and durian sailing along the river. In front of each boat will have a “cay beo” – a long pole to hang on the sample of the merchandise. This way is to attract customers and help them easier to find the items they need in the middle of a vast river. And this seems to be a common and unique sign you only see in Mekong Delta floating markets of Vietnam.
Check out the Top 7 Mekong Delta floating markets below and everything you need to know before visiting:
Table of Contents
1. Cai Be Floating Market
Formed in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century, Cai Be is one of the many well-known floating markets in Mekong Delta. The market lies in the area where the Tien River shares the border between 3 provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. Mingling with the bustling vibe and chaotic atmosphere of the market, your mind seems to soak up the rhythm of brandishing water flow, while your soul seems to be daydreamt by the vastness of the Mekong River.
Cai Be Floating Market is divided into two parts: buying and selling places. Approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river for kilometers. You are able to hire a motorboat to sail along the river as well as experience how animated and vibrant a floating market is. Unlike usual floating markets that only meet in the morning, Cai Be Floating Market starts trading from the early morning until late at night.
Address: Cai Be Floating Market, Cai Be Town, Cai Be District, Tien Giang Province.
2. Cai Rang Floating Market
This is the largest floating market in Mekong Delta, also the most popular one due to its location and accessibility. Located about 6km from Can Tho City Center, the market begins in early morning, from 5am until midday. But it is best to be here before 8am to see the busiest moments of the market. From Ninh Kieu Wharf, you can catch a boat and reach the market in 45 minutes.
Cai Rang floating market specializes in selling fruits, farm products and specialties of Can Tho such as grapefruit, durian, dragon fruit, watermelon, pineapple… Other services and products like mending machine, selling gasoline, oil, salted fish, medicines, confectionery, salt, clothes, cosmetic, spicy, etc. are available here.
There are also some small boats serving soft drink, wine and food. And you should not miss an interesting experience when visiting Cai Rang Floating Market is that having breakfast on boats with some local dishes, including “pho”, “hu tieu”, “bun rieu”… (series of noodles), “com tam” (broken rice with pork and egg) etc. at very cheap price.
Address: Le Binh Ward, Cai Rang District, Can Tho City.
3. Phong Dien Floating Market
Located about 20km southwest of Can Tho City, Phong Dien Floating Market is less crowded and much smaller than the main floating market – Cai Rang but it is really authentic. This retailed floating market offers abundant and diverse products like fruits, vegetables, foods, household items, gasoline and working tools. What people have on land markets, Phong Dien has them too. There are fewer motorized boats and more manually-rowed sampans so you can hear the sound from the merchants to advertise their own products which they are selling.
For those who want to avoid a large number of tourists in Cai Rang Market and get the truly experience of locals’ daily life in Mekong Delta, heading to Phong Dien is a better choice. To catch the best scene of the market, you should come here in the early morning, from 5am to 8am.
Address: Phong Dien Floating Market, Nhon Ai, Phong Dien District, Can Tho.
4. Nga Nam Floating Market
Located about 60 kilometers from Soc Trang Town, Nga Nam Floating Market acquires its name from the convergence of five canals – Ca Mau, Vinh Quoi, Long My, Thanh Tri and Phung Hiep – in Nga Nam Commune. The market starts at 3am and ends at 8am but on the Tet holiday, it opens all day. Being the central market of the entire Mekong Delta area, Nga Nam Floating Market provides most of the goods and specialties from this region, from signature types of rice and tropical fruits to countless types of seafood, displaying the pure range of resource diversity the Mekong Delta.
Although up to now, trading activity has become more and more bustling and more visitors is coming here, Nga Nam Floating Market still retains the uniqueness of Mekong countryside as well as typical attributes that make it special such as “ao ba ba”, sweet old folk songs and distinctive accent of Southern people.
Address: Nga Nam Floating Market, Nga Nam Commune, Soc Trang Province.
5. Nga Bay (Phung Hiep) Floating Market
Nga Bay, also referred to as Phung Hiep Floating Market, has been open since 1915 – for over a hundred years, it has been a key trading port for the locals in Nga Bay Town. As its name indicates, the market is located at the intersection of 7 rivers: Cai Con, Mang Sao, Bung Tau, Soc Trang, Xeo Mon, Lai Hieu and Xeo Dong.
Nga Bay market has a wide variety of goods, especially fruits, agricultural products, handicrafts, household appliances and all kinds of mats. In addition, the market also has a sale of snakes, turtles, birds, daisies, squirrels… You will have the opportunity to enjoy typical dishes of the South like “banh xeo”, “pho”… right on the boat.
Address: Nga Bay Floating Market, Nga Bay Commune, Hau Giang Province.
6. Tra On Floating Market
Lying at a prime location between the junction of Hau River and Mang Thit River, Tra On is one of the oldest floating markets associated with many cultural activities of people in the region. It is not as bustling as other places like Cai Be or Cai Rang but still worth a visit for those who opt for less-touristy sites.
The market wakes up at very early morning, around 2am – 3am when the vendors start to prepare their goods for the day. From 5am to 6am is considered the best time to explore this market. You can see the busiest scene of the day and retain the most vivid moments, from bright smiles of sellers to a long line of dragons and canoeing close by each other.
Like other floating markets in the region, the main commodities here are fruits and seasonal agricultural products, namely, banana, guava, tangerine, orange, durian, mango, grapefruit… Tra On Floating Market is not only a market providing products for locals but also becoming a major wholesale market, supplying agricultural products to many neighboring areas.
Address: Tra On Floating Market, Tra On Town, Tra On District, Vinh Long Province.
7. Long Xuyen Floating Market
Long Xuyen Floating Market is one of the non-touristy destinations in An Giang Province, so it will be amazing for those who prefer peace and avoid overcrowded places. Not only that, the market is also for discovering the quintessence in the culture and people of the Mekong Delta. This market is not as big as other markets but the serenity of this place makes you feel more comfortable and closer to the local life. It is about 2km from Long Xuyen City, located along one side of the Hau River with heavy alluvium. Here you can find hundreds of boats from many places coming and trading agricultural products. A part of the market looks like a food court on the water since you can enjoy dozens of attractive dishes, such as rice noodle soup, sweet soup, coffee, “banh tam bi” – a kind of noodle with coconut milk, “banh bo”, etc.
Address: Long Xuyen Floating Market, Hau River, Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province.
Visits to the above floating markets in Mekong Delta will bring you memorable experience about exciting daily life of friendly and hospitable people in the Southwest Vietnam. Mekong is calling, come and visit us in Vietnam. For further information or best offers of today, please contact our Travel Consultants.