Vietnam’s territory is special in its ways of the clear distinction between trench and ridge. In many regions, people live in high areas in cool atmosphere, whereas others prefer to get used to making a living right on boats along the tropical river, rowing all the day. What people do in Mekong river delta is a real picture of astonishing lifestyle invented by local inhabitants, which has expressed the soul of marketplaces in a very different way - floating market – Chợ nổi.
It is a market where people purchase things as usual except for the fact that it operates afloat on the river. Today, because of the needs of people, not only floating markets sell fruits or other kinds of agricultural products, but also the cuisine. The small boat crew weaving between the fruit, mainly sell beverages, breakfast for shoppers like wet cake, noodles, bread soup, noodle rolls, coffee, tea ...Tourists come here can catch the opportunity to experience relaxed moments by tasting local delicacies.
Sunrise and sunset are considered two sessions to explore the most crowded and gorgeous floating markets. If you are more fascinated by the crowded boats and see the underwater means of traffic, you should go from early morning, sunrise. In the morning at the bustling markets, they almost trade many agricultural products. Who prefer silence and tranquility should visit the floating market in the afternoon, watch people daily living on boats, one of the characteristics of the South West. In the afternoon, you should visit from 4 PM when the sun becomes lighter. You can take moments of admiring the sunset over the river.
Me Kong River Delta acquire the reputation for having a lot of famous floating markets such as Cai Rang, Cai Be, Phung Hiep, Long Xuyen, Tra On... Here are two most well-known floating markets in the Southwest of Vietnam:
Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho:
Located in Cai Rang River, about 5 km from Can Tho City, Cai Rang floating market is an engaging destination that you should not miss when traveling to Can Tho. The visitors can come to Cai Rang by land or water route. By setting off in the early morning, visitors will go to Ninh Kieu Port to buy tickets for a trip to Cai Rang. You need to spend about 220-250 thousand VND ( nearly 10-12$). If you can not get up early, you may visit Cai Rang from the Can Tho center by bus (costs 7.000 VND) or by “Xe Om” with 100.000 VND fee or spending 200.000 VND on taxi. It takes you more 20- 25 minutes than the waterway transports.The Cai Rang floating market, the most enchanting and largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta, opens around 5:00 am and runs until mid-day. However, it could be more exciting if you visit it before 9:00 am.
Some historians indicate that it has been in operation since the early 1900s during the Nguyen dynasty. It means that this market has played an important role in the life of local people so far. If you don’t want to discover this market on your own, don’t be worried because a day tour to Cai Rang floating market is the most desired Mekong tour from Ho Chi Minh city. You’ll see colorfully painted boats anchored along the shore, merchant vessels carrying loads down the river or houses built on stilts over water face. When you reach the market, you will find that it’s an impressive site. A lot of boats are selling all variety of goods lines the river. It’s not only the place of selling souvenirs but also people come there to buy large numbers of goods, mostly foods for daily life. You’ll learn that boats identify what they are selling by hanging a pattern off the top of a long pillar. If you want mango, simply looking for a hanging mango. And if you are curious, you’ll have a chance to communicate with some of floating merchants to get more understandings about their work.
Cai Be Floating Market in Tien Giang:
Cai Be, one of many well-known floating markets in the western region of southern Vietnam was founded in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The market is always bustling, holding all the features of the locals’ life in the western area. All the goods are shipped to the market by rafts and boats.The floating market lies in the Tien river, in the vicinity of the three provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. The market is separated into two parts: buying and selling. Around 400 to 500 boats packed with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river. In addition, the merchandise sold in each boat is hung on a bamboo tree in front of the boat to attract customers. From the floating market, stuffs are shifted for selling at inland markets or small boats take them for delivery along canals in the Plain of Reeds. From 3 am, rafts and boats are busy because Cai Be is one of the biggest wholesale markets in the region. Traders live on the river and many link friends and family with boats over generations, just like a mobile home. On each boat, goods are hung on poles that are called dialectically “cay beo”. Hundreds of such poles point skywards. Boats are also operated as “taxis,” which are very convenient for tourists. Along the criss - cross canals, people in the Plain of Reeds take not only goods of each region to the Cai Be market but also their unique cultural characteristics, creating such a beautiful river collage.
Floating markets in Mekong Delta is a unique cultural characteristic, creating such an alluring river painting. Apart from Cai Rang, Cai Be, you also can also drop by Phung Hiep market in Hau Giang province, Nga Bay in Hau Giang province or Nga Nam in Soc Trang Province. It can be denied that visiting floating markets is among must - see attractions in Southern Vietnam which will bring you the most impressive, meaningful and memorable moments in Mekong Delta trip.