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Mekong Travel Guide » Mekong Delta Informations » Floating Markets

Floating Markets

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!

Phong Dien Floating Market

Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes.

Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit.

Large floating markets are not complete without its floating restaurants, floating gas stations and an occasional tour boat filled with tourists.

Perhaps the best floating market in the Mekong Delta, Phong Dien has fewer motorised craft and more stand-up rowing boats. It's less crowded than Cai Rang and there are far fewer tourists. The market is at its bustling best between 6am and 8am.

It is theoretically possible to do a whirl- wind boat trip here, visiting the small canals on the way and finishing back at the Cai Rang floating market. This journey should take approximately five hours return from Can Tho.

Cai Be Floating Market

It is opened from 5am to 5pm. It is best to go early in the morning. Wholesalers on big boats moor here, each specialising in one or a few types of fruit or vegetable. Customers cruise the market in smaller boats and can easily find what they're looking for, as the larger boats hang samples of their goods from tall wooden poles.

One interesting thing you won't see at other floating markets is the huge Catholic cathedral on the riverside - a popular and fantastic backdrop for photographs.

It takes about an hour to reach the market from Vinh Long, but most people make detours on the way there or back to see the canals or visit orchards.

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.

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.

See Also

Major Cities Of The Delta
Snake Industry
National Parks & Nature Reserves in Mekong Delta
Life On The River
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