- Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets of Mekong delta
- Bac Ha market of Lao Cai province (Northwest Vietnam)
- Dong Van market of Ha Giang province (Northeast Vietnam)
- Khau Vai love market of Ha Giang province (Northeast Vietnam)
1/ Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets of Can Tho city, Mekong delta
The market takes place on Can Tho river, near Cai Rang bridge. Its about 6km from Ninh Kieu pier of Can Tho city (45 minutes by motorized boat). Or you can get to Dau Sau boat station (Ben do Dau Sau), from where it takes just some 10 minutes to reach the market.
Ninh Kieu, the main pier of the city, is larger and more comfortable than the small Dau Sau boat station which is used by some local people.
Booking and Price
There are many people, mostly women, offering motorised boat service for visiting Cai Rang floating market, Phong Dien floating market and fruit gardens at Ninh Kieu pier. Its good to come to the pier and arrange a boat trip in advance.
Cost: Cai Rang floating market and one fruit garden is about 300,000VND; pay more 150,000VND if you want to visit one more floating market (Phong Dien) and some canals.
Ms An (mobile: 0902 536 661) has offered motorised boat service for many years. She is friendly and helpful. Give her a call in advance and she can pick you up at Ninh Kieu pier (Boat station number 1 = ben tau du lich so 1), Dau Sau boat station or at your hotel (such as Van Phat hotel, Victoria hotel).
The boat trip for Cai Rang floating market and an orchard takes about 3 – 4 hours. Spend 5 – 6 hours if you visit Phong Dien floating market and some more canals.
Best time to visit
The markets are open from early morning, about 5:00AM, to about 9:00AM.
The market is often totally closed one day before Vietnam new year and four days later.
You should arrive in the markets about 5:30AM to see sunrise and enjoy the cool winds (its quite hot at 8:00 – 9:00AM around the year)
Best days to visit the markets: 3 – 5 days before Vietnam traditional new year which usually falls into the beginning of February. During this period, the markets are very crowded and are often full of many kinds of colourful flowers. The sellers bring spring to the floating markets and the buyers take it home on the boats full of goods.
Difference between Cai Rang floating market (as well as other floating markets in Mekong delta) with Thailand floating market
Cai Rang floating market is about the culture of people whose lives are attached to the rivers
Now we see the differences between them
• Cai Rang floating market takes place on big long river. Thailand ones take place on concrete small, narrow and short canals
• Cai Rang is the floating market of local people. There is no souvernir at this market. Most sellers just do their daily jobs: selling or exchanging products. They don’t know how to do tourism (tourism is nothing to them)
Breakfast is available at Cai Rang and Thailand floating markets. But Cai Rang is just for local people while Thailand is for tourists.
• Cai Rang is open from early morning to about 9:00AM
• The sellers stay on the boats and they are called house boats in Cai Rang. Sometimes with 2 – 3 generations. Dog and cock are raised on boats and wake up early with the sellers.
• Cai Rang is a lively word where Mekongese who stay far away from home come back to live again their childhood
Some Asian tourists ask why we don’t organize floating markets like Thailand? We will “kill” Mekong delta’s culture if We do… The rivers and floating markets have their own lives and We love them.
Phong Dien floating market
It takes about 50 minutes from Cai Rang floating market to Phong Dien floating market by motorised boat.
If Cai Rang is the largest floating market, Phong Dien is perhaps the most beautiful one.
The difference: Cai Rang is called floating supermarket with more big boats for wholesale while Phong Dien is floating traditional market with a lot of rowing boats for retail sale.
Combine with a boat trip along some canals in Phong Dien.
Crowded floating market in early morning
Fishing in early morning
Sunrise on Cai Rang floating market
A big boat full of pumkins
Breakfast: noodle, Vietnamese bread, sticky rice, dumpling…
2/ Bac Ha market of Lao Cai province (Northwest Vietnam)