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Top 5 Floating Markets in Vietnam

 

The Mekong Delta is an unmissable region of Vietnam. Situated south of Ho Chi Minh City, it’s a vibrant tropical paradise, rich in local culture and verdant scenery. 

The highlight of any visit to the Delta is taking in one of the area’s magical floating markets. The region is a patchwork of rivers, canals, and tiny streams; road and car use is a relatively modern addition, long predated by transport and trade on the water. 

The floating markets – many of which date back centuries – are held at strategic confluence points across the Delta. Local people travel from miles around, bringing boats selling fresh fruits, tropical produce, poultry, clothing, all manner of domestic goods, and livestock. 

Starting from a hotel base in Can Tho, Cai Be, or Vinh Long, your visit will be on a private boat, getting right into the thick of the action! Note that the markets work to a traditional farming schedule, so the best time to visit is just after dawn when they are at their busiest and most vibrant. 

We’ve put together a guide to the very best markets in the Mekong Delta below.

Cai Rang floating market 2

Cai Rang

Busy, vibrant Cai Rang floating market is the largest and arguably most well-known in the Delta. Set just downstream from the Mekong Delta’s only major city Can Tho, you’ll find hundreds of boats visiting each morning laden with all the usual produce, as well as a mouthwatering sideline in noodle soups, spring rolls, and Vietnamese rice paper pancakes. 

A visit to Cai Rang is usually paired with journeys up the smaller tributaries around Can Tho, where you can take local villages to visit artisans at work and enjoy cultural activities at bee farms, coconut candy producers, and brick factories. 

Boat arriving in floating market Mekong Delta

Cai Be

Cai Be floating market is located on the busy Tien river. It’s the closest market to the city, and with longer opening hours – it’s typically busy all day – Cai Be can be visited as a day trip by car or bus from Ho Chi Minh City. 

Proximity to HCMC means the bustling atmosphere has a definite ‘touristy’ edge to it – you’ll find a higher proportion of souvenir sellers and fewer local traders here. However, with easy travel and more accommodating hours it’s an ideal solution for those looking to take in a market, but without the time to spare an overnight stay.

Nga Nam floating market

Nga Nam

Literally translating as ‘five places’ market, Nga Nam town marks the confluence of five tributaries of the Nga Nam river. From here the river flows in five directions to Vinh Quoi, My Long, Phu Loc, Phuoc Long, and Phung Hiep. 

Traders come in from all corners, meeting at the busy confluence to trade en masse. As it covers such a wide area, Nga Nam floating market boasts possibly the widest variety of trading, with everything from produce to electronics, antiques to clothing. 

 

Canal around Cai Be Vietnam

Tra On

Found at the confluence of the Mang Thit and Hau rivers, Tra On floating market is a distinctly local scene. This historic market has been operational for several centuries and takes place both on the river and amongst stalls and pitches all along the riverbanks. 

The action at Tra On begins as early as 2am, with a peak in activity around sunrise around 5-6am. You’ll have to be up very early to catch the best of the action here!

Vegetable traders in Mekong Delta

Long Xuyen

Nga Nam may be the most varied, Cai Rang the biggest, but Long Xuyen floating market has a solid claim to the most interesting market in the Delta. A location well away from typical Delta tourist towns finds this highly authentic market catering primarily to locals. 

As well as the usual fresh fruits, produce, and domestic goods, when visiting the market you’ll find also find a steady trade in livestock. In the Mekong Delta, this means tropical birds, tortoises, iguanas and lizards, and even snakes! 

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