Exploring the floating markets of Mekong Delta

Just west of Ho Chi Minh City lies a completely different and unique environment, a place that has managed to capture the hearts of anyone who visited it. It is the Mekong Delta or the ‘Rice Bowl of Vietnam’ owing to its rich fertile soil that grows most of the rice that feeds Vietnam. This massive delta is home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the country. But it’s not just the nature that makes this place fascinating, it’s the people and their unique way of life which includes floating markets that make this place fascinating and a must-visit for anyone.

Floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

Floating markets are fascinating places to visit. The ones you find in the Mekong Delta are no exception. These floating markets located all across the Mekong River are a great place to shop for local products and interact with the locals. These days floating markets have become major tourist attractions. The Mekong Delta has several floating markets and exploring them can be a great way to observe the Vietnamese people and their culture. Some floating markets on the Mekong Delta you should visit are Cai Rang, Cai Be, Phong Dieng, Long Xuyen, etc. Let’s take a look at a few of these floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

Cai Rang Floating Market

One of the biggest and most popular floating markets in the Mekong Delta is the Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho. This impressive floating market is a great place to experience a lively and bustling market and shop for local products. This market is open all day but is usually busier during the early morning. You can find boats full of mangoes, pineapples, and other seasonal goods. You can even find a few sellers selling soft drinks and even mini-restaurants where vendors sell food on their boats. During the dry season, you will be able to buy local fruits like rambutan and mangosteen. Some of the specialties of Cai Rang are dried fish, coconut candy, and fish sauce. An interesting thing about Cai Rang Floating Market is that the vendors here do not show what wares they are selling. Instead, they have a long stick on the back of their boats with a few samples of the items they sell.

How to reach: To get to the market, you can catch a taxi from Danang or Hanoi to Ninh Kieu Wharf and then take a boat from there to Cai Rang.   

Cai Be Floating Market

Cai Be is a town located 120 km away from Ho Chi Minh City famous for its floating market. The best time to visit this floating market is early in the morning. Here, you will be able to see plenty of local fruits and vegetables being sold on boats. You can also find plenty of local dishes like banh xeo, banh xan, and hu tieu here. An interesting feature of this market is the cathedral located on the bank of the river. Unlike the rest of the markets here, cai be floating market is strictly for locals so you won’t find any infrastructure for tourists here.

How to reach: You can travel from Ho Chi Minh City by car to the wharf which will take about 2 hours and then reach the market by boat which will take another extra hour.

Phong Dien Floating Market

Another floating market you can check out is the Phong Dien Market. This market is small but is popular among tourists looking for a less crowded and more authentic experience. It is located 20 km southwest of Can Tho city. This floating market is famous for its diversity in items being sold. You will see lots of boats with coconuts, durians, mangoes, and other fruits, vegetables, fish, and various foods. You can even find boats selling household appliances, working tools, textiles, and baskets. There are also floating petrol stations, tailor shops, and mechanic shops. 

How to reach: You can take a taxi from Can Tho City to Nin Kieu pier and then take a boat to Phong Dien Market.

Long Xuyen Floating Market

Long Xuyen Floating Market is another floating market in Mekong Delta. Located 2 km away from Long Xuyen City on the Han Lau River, this market is best enjoyed early in the morning before 6 a.m. Here, you will see lots of boats selling fresh agricultural produce. You will even be able to catch glimpses of fishermen on boats and floating houses. There are also lots of boats selling plenty of amazing traditional Vietnamese food like rice noodle soup, bahn bo, banh tam bi, and even try a cup of coffee while taking in the vibrant atmosphere of the market. Besides the market, you can also visit the Tra Su forest in one day.

How to reach: You can reach Long Xuyen floating market by taking a boat from Long Xuyen City.

Tra On Floating Market

Tra On Floating Market is located at the junction where Hau Giang River and Mang Thit River meet in Tra On district. This floating market has plenty of boats loaded with fresh produce like fruits and vegetables. Besides vendors, you can also see various floating houses and even restaurants. Most of the boats here are wholesale boats and plenty of traders use this market to supply other markets along the Mekong Valley

How to reach: You can take a taxi from Ho Chi Minh City to Vinh Long City and then take another taxi to Tra On town. From Tra On town, you can get a boat to Tra On floating market.  

The Mekong Delta is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Vietnam. Its many floating markets are a gem to explore. However, in order to experience the energy of the floating markets of Mekong Valley, you will need to apply for a Vietnam visa. Which you can do online at a government-approved resource like BDATrip and if you are from China, you can directly apply for a Vietnam visa here.