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Mekong Floating Markets Vietnam

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market is open all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 9am. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung.

During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes.Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, soft drinks and wine go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors. Sellers tie their goods to a tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling.

Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners.

To visit Cai Rang Floating Market, visitors can join a tour of the Mekong Delta. On the way to Can Tho, visitors can stop to visit My Tho and take a boat trip to visit orchards, bee farms and coconut candy establishments in Ben Tre.
 

Cai Be Floating Market

Cai Be, one of many well-known floating markets in the western region of southern Vietnam was formed in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The market is always busy, bearing all the characteristics of the locals’ life in the western region. All the goods are transported to the market by rafts and boats.
 
The floating market lies in the Tien river, next to the three provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. The market is divided into two parts: buying and selling. Approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river. Again, the merchandise sold in each boat is hung on a pole in front of the boat to attract customers. From the floating market, goods 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 crowded 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, not unlike a mobile home. On each boat, goods are hung on poles that are called dialectically “cay beo”. Hundreds of such poles point sky wards. Boats also operate like “taxis, ” which are very convenient for tourists. Along the criss crossing 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.
 

Cho Gao Floating Market

In the early morning, you could travel by your comfortable bus towards Can Duoc, where you come aboard of your boat to cruise to the Cho Gao floating market.

This sightseeing is extremely interesting as you participate in the life of the local people. The market is a melting pot of colors, shapes, sounds and smells. Rice, fresh fruit, fish, handicrafts, bonsais, almost everything is for sale, a great opportunity to find some nice souvenirs for the loved-ones at home!
 

Phung Hiep Floating Market

The market meets all day long, but most noisy and busy in the morning. The precious evening, from far-and-wide, boats full of seasonal vegetables and fruits: mangoes, durians, bananas, oranges, coconuts... left their villages to head for the sunrise market. Every boat is full of fruits. Some boats are covered with roofs, some are not. On boats without roofs, the sellers have to hold high a stick hanging with fruits as signals. Market-goers do not bargain, just a few words exchange, they sell and get paid. Normally, fruits are sold and brought to big boats. Then they will be transported to fruit-processing factories or to Ho Chi Minh City, Vung Tau, even to Hanoi and Northern provinces.

It's a floating market' but services are available, foods and drinks on small boats twist and turn to serve hungry sellers and buyers. Signal to buy is only a whistling or waving band. Apart from fruits, local products: snakes, birds, turtles... are easy to find near Phung Hiep bridge. These specialties are almost bought and brought to restaurants in Can Tho or Ho Chi Minh City.

The atmosphere in Phung Hiep market was exciting, as we witnessed snake traders fearfully transferring poisonous copperheads, kraits, and rattlesnakes, from their cages to purchaser’s jute bags.

The price for a snake ranges from tens of thousands of dong for individual specimens, to hundreds of thousands of dong per kilogram. One kilogram of water snakes is priced at VND30, 000-VND50, 000 (US$1.88 - $3.13); while copperheads sell for between VND50, 000-VND400, 000 ($3.13 - $25) per kilo.

Second to the snakes in quantity at Phung Hiep market are wild birds. All species favoured by urban gastronomers such as cao, cu dat, stork, blosh dove, moorcook, and la mia, are sold at the market.

Birds are hanged up on the motorbikes of bird hunters from rural areas and confined in narrowed cages. Thousands of birds are purchased each hour, and transported to “headquarters” for retail sale to restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and southwestern provinces.

Phung Hiep Snake Market, located close to the floating market, is known worldwide. Visitors from all over the world go there to taste the snake liquor and see the dangerous snake dance.
 

Long Xuyen Floating Market

Long Xuyen floating market is located long the bank of river in An Giang, Mekong Delta. On one side are beautifull houses while on the other are paddy fields and houses on stilts. The river becomes more and more bustling, espcially at places where small canals flow into the river.

Boats selling the same agro-product items are tied togerther in groups. People travel among dinghies as crossing adjoining stalls or row houses. Some boats sell fuel and offer mechanical repair services.
 

Tra On Floating Market

Located at the intersection of the Hau and Mang Thit rivers and next to Tra On Town in Tra On District in Vinh Long Province, Tra On is the last floating market on the Hau River. Goods are wholesaled in groups and delivered to boats so the ambience of the market is less bustling than other local floating markets. There is not much laughter.

Early mornings, when the sun is still sleeping and the moon is blurring, sellers gather on their boats and offload their agricultural goods onto other boats that carry it all to Can Tho City or Ho Chi Minh City. The goods that move the most are fruits including coconut, banana, guava, pineapple, orange, jackfruit and pomelo.

See Also

Mekong River - The river of nine Dragons
Rice production
Monkey bridges - an endangered species
Mekong History
Life in the Delta
Unique industry in the Mekong Delta
National Parks & Nature Reserves in Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta vibrates with colour
Major Cities of The Delta
A home away from home

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