Guidebook Visit a Floating Market

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Visit a Floating Market

At around 5am, boats “gather in the same spot to sell and trade their bounty,” says Itchy Feet On The Cheap. “Hundreds of boats and sampans, full of fruit and vegetables, flowers, and handicraft products, gather to trade their various goods,” writes The Diplomat, “making for crowded and frenetic scenery.” The “bustling commerce of these ‘floating towns’ stands in contrast to the languid and quiet lifestyle in the countryside along the river banks.” More importantly, says The Diplomat, the markets reflect “cultural and historical values” that are a key to “understanding the Mekong Delta inhabitants’ identity and traditions.”    

Here are some of the main Mekong Delta floating markets:  

Nga Nam floating market: “The hustle and bustle found in this market is unmatched by any other floating market found in Vietnam.” It’s the most central market of the region where you can find “boats full of rice, vegetables, fresh fruit from orchards, shrimp, fish, crabs, frogs, and the like.” There are even boats “selling household goods and electronics.” The market “wakes up” around 3am and “reaches its peak” around 5am. (The Culture Trip)  

Cai Be floating market is a hub for “fruit to get throughout all regions,” and unlike most other floating markets that only open in the morning, starts trading at dawn until late at night. At dawn, it’s “as lively as a small city on the river,” and from 3am is “crowded with all kinds of rafts and boats.” The hawkers sell wares like pho, noodles, rice noodles, grocery -- “sitting on a floating boat, tasting a bowl of noodles or sipping a cup of fragrant coffee in the morning is an amazing experience.” (Living Nomads)  

Cai Rang floating market: Open all day, but is “busiest from sunrise to about 9am” when the waterway becomes a “maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes.” This is not really “a place for souvenirs,” it’s a market where locals come to buy “large quantities of goods, mostly foodstuffs.” (Travelsense)

Long Xuyen floating market is a “hidden gem.” It’s one of the less popular floating markets in Vietnam, but the locals here are “extremely curious and will try to communicate with you and show you their country (and food!) as much as they can because tourists are not a familiar sight.” There are “a lot of veggies being sold,” as well as fruits and freshly cooked food -- “enjoy a meal with a local and you will make their day when they see you slurp like a local as you finish a whole bowl of noodle soup.” (The Culture Trip)

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