Located south of Ho Chi Minh City is the Mekong Delta. This is vast maze of rivers and swamp that runs through the south of Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is home to hundreds of floating markets, boats, small villages and towns. The largest of these towns is Can Tho which is situated 6km from the Mekong Delta’s largest floating market at Cai Rang.
There are two ways to visit Cai Rang floating market. The first is to take a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City with one of the many tour operators. The second is to travel to Can Tho and from there organise a tour to Cai Rang. We chose to travel to Can Tho.
Can Tho is accessible from Ho Chi Minh City by either bus to private car hire. We traveled from Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho with Futa Bus company and a one way bus ticket cost 145,000 VND.
Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and is at the confluence of the Song Hau and Song Can Tho rivers. It is the economic, cultural, political and transportation centre of the Mekong Delta.
It is a busy city with a waterfront, many small markets, back streets lined with cafes, restaurants and street food carts. The main reason most tourists come to Can Tho is to take a trip on the river and the Cai Rang floating market.
We booked a tour through our Get Your Guide one day in advance. It included boat transfer, breakfast and a tour of a local rice production farm and craft shop.
We met our guide at a centra location at 5.00am and walked with a number of other tourists to the waterfront. At this time of the morning Can Tho is busy with locals, some are out for their early morning exercise and others are preparing their market and food stalls. Once we arrived at the waterfront we made out onto a floating jetty.
Even though it was still dark there were lots of people and boats. The boats and tours ranged in size. There were 7 people on our tour and we were ushered onto a small wooden canoe with a large outboard motor.
We settled into our seats and sailed down the river. Cai Rang floating market is around a 45 minute journey from Can Tho by boat. The only real sounds at this time are the water hitting the boat and the rattle of the engine. As we went along the sun began to rise and shed some light on the morning.
After 45 minutes of cruising we passed under the Cau Hung Loi bridge and entered the Cai Rang Market.
This market is a collection of large barges all floating on the river, these are the homes of most of the workers, you can see them brushing their teeth or preparing food at the back of the barges.
Some are filled with fruit, veg and rice. Others are cooking or offering local crafts. Among the larger barges there are smaller row boats packed with goods loading and unloading, offering coffee, drinks or breakfasts.
The whole market is an impressive sight, there are also large cargo ships moving up and down among the smaller boats, you can hear the loud horns warning the locals as they pass.
After a few laps of the market our guide and driver pulled the boat up beside a larger boat loaded with pineapples. We climbed aboard and enjoyed some fresh fruit as we looked out on the market and the river. The fruit was delicious and the location made for some great photos.
After our pineapple break we boarded our boat again and headed further up river past the market. The sun was fully up at this stage and it was time for our second stop at a local craft shop and rice farm. We turned down a small side river and arrived at our breakfast stop.
Before we tucked into breakfast we were shown a demonstration on how they prepare and dry rice paper. We enjoyed a nice breakfast of noodles while socialising with the rest of the tour group.
After breakfast we continued down the small river for about 15 minutes. Our guide wanted to show us local life in the area. The river was packed homes, some on stilts others on the bank and people just going about their daily lives. Washing clothes in the river, preparing food or just watching tv. After this journey we headed back to Can Tho. The trip back took around 55 minutes.
Cai Rang floating market was a fascinating experience where you will truly experience local life in Vietnam. We highly recommend making some time in your schedule when visiting Vietnam and checking Cai Rang.
To book your tour of Cai Rang floating market CLICK HERE.
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