Floating markets are a unique cultural feature found only in the Mekong Delta region of Southern Vietnam. It would be a miss if you visit the Mekong Delta without experiencing the bustling floating markets on the boats drifting on the water surface. Besides sightseeing, you can also shop and eat right on the boats, which creates a fascinating feeling that can hardly be found elsewhere. Let’s explore the 8 most famous floating markets in Vietnam.
Cai Rang Floating Market – Can Tho
Cai Rang Floating Market can be said to be the most well-known floating market among international tourists. It was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2016. The market is located in the Cai Rang district of Can Tho city, about 6km from the city center. To reach the Cai Rang Floating Market, you have to take a boat from Ninh Kieu Wharf, and after about 30 minutes, you will arrive at the market.
The most active time at Cai Rang Floating Market is from 6:00 AM to around 8-9:00 AM. Therefore, you have to go early because there are many boats operating vigorously, and sometimes it can feel a bit crowded and chaotic. The boats mainly carry various agricultural products and fruits such as pomelos, coconuts, durians, watermelons, and some boats even sell breakfast and serve as small floating eateries or bars. Each boat sells different products, and they hang some of those products on a tall pole to make them more visible.
In general, if you visit Can Tho, you should not miss the opportunity to experience life on the water at Cai Rang Floating Market, admire the sunrise on the boats, and feel the uniqueness of one of the most beautiful floating markets in Asia.
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Cai Be Floating Market – Tien Giang
Cai Be Floating Market is situated on the Tien River, belonging to Cai Be district in Tien Giang province. The market operates from around 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM. It serves as a hub for trading and exchanging goods, fruits, and local products, making it an attractive destination in Tien Giang province.
Cai Be Floating Market offers a wide range of products, from textiles and household items to food. However, fruits and agricultural products remain the main focus, as the market is renowned for various unique fruits like green-skinned pomelos, oranges, coconuts, jackfruits, and mangoes. One particularly famous specialty here is coconut oil-based soap, which you should try and experience.
Tra On Floating Market – Vinh Long
Tra On Floating Market is a unique floating market located at the end of the Hau River in Tra On district, Vinh Long province. It is one of the oldest markets in the region and is deeply intertwined with the cultural activities of the local people.
What sets Tra On Floating Market apart is its operation following the water level of the river. The higher the water level, the more boats there are, and vice versa. As a result, you can explore this market at any time of the day, not just in the early morning.
Like other floating markets in the Mekong Delta, Tra On Floating Market mainly deals in wholesale agricultural products and fruits for traders. However, there are also some local specialties you should try here that are unique and not found elsewhere, such as beef balls served with banana flowers and some grilled fish dishes with distinctive flavors.
Phong Dien Floating Market – Can Tho
In Can Tho, there is another well-known floating market called Phong Dien Floating Market, located about 17km from the city center. This market operates from around 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM, and like other floating markets, it offers various products that are showcased on boats.
However, what sets this market apart is the diversity of services offered, similar to what you would find at regular markets on land. Here, you can find everything to meet the needs of the locals, including groceries, agricultural products, meat, fish, food stalls, as well as boat repair services and household goods. They even sell boats, small boats (ghe), and mechanical machinery.
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Nga Bay Floating Market (Phung Hiep) – Hau Giang
Nga Bay Floating Market, also known as Phung Hiep Floating Market, got its name because it is located at the intersection of seven rivers. It is a famous spot in Hau Giang province where trading and exchanging of goods take place for people living in the Mekong Delta region. The market attracts a large number of tourists as well.
Similar to other floating markets in the Mekong Delta, Nga Bay Floating Market offers a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products. Some unique specialties found here include rambutans, mangosteen, and durians. However, the most distinctive aspect is that they sell items rarely found elsewhere, such as various types of snakes, monitor lizards, birds, and soft-shell turtles.
Long Xuyen Floating Market – An Giang
Long Xuyen Floating Market in An Giang is also located on the Hau River, about 2km from the city center. Unlike many other bustling floating markets, Long Xuyen operates throughout the day, not just in the early morning, as it is less influenced by commercialization. This provides visitors with ample time to leisurely explore the market, witness the daily activities of the river’s inhabitants, and understand their way of life. People here live and do business on boats, considering the market their home.
It is an ideal place for tourists who want to discover the untouched and original beauty of the floating markets in the Mekong Delta.
Ca Mau Floating Market
Ca Mau Floating Market is located at the end of the Ganh Hao River, about 200m from Ganh Hao Bridge. Being close to the center of Ca Mau City, it is quite famous and attracts many tourists whenever they visit Ca Mau.
The market usually starts operating from 2 to 3 AM, offering a wide range of products from food and necessities to various local agricultural specialties such as coconut water, mangoes, rambutans, lychees, and coconuts. One unique product of Ca Mau Floating Market is “rong mat”, a typical mat of the Ca Mau people.
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Nga Nam Floating Market – Soc Trang
Nga Nam Floating Market is the name of a famous floating market in Nga Nam town, Soc Trang province. It is one of the oldest and most vibrant floating markets in the Mekong Delta. The market starts operating from 3:00 AM, and it is bustling at 5:00 AM, while the peak time is around 8:00 AM.
At Nga Nam Floating Market, you can find almost all famous products of the Mekong Delta, including renowned rice varieties from the western paddy fields and various fruits and vegetables from Southern orchards, as well as local specialties such as shrimp, crab, and typical fish of the region’s rivers and waterways.
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Floating markets are a distinctive aspect of cultural life in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Despite existing for hundreds of years, these markets have preserved their traditional values. They serve as both trading hubs for the local people, providing them with livelihoods, and unique tourist destinations, offering travelers a one-of-a-kind experience. The majority of our Vietnam tours offer the chance to explore captivating floating markets. We sincerely hope you’ll get the opportunity to experience one of the eight most remarkable floating markets in Vietnam, as thoughtfully curated in our list. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact our travel consultants for further assistance.