The dense network of the Mekong River and its tributaries has developed the waterway transport system and formed the special customs of the locals here. If you visit, you can watch the locals trading goods from their boats, which has created a vast floating market. Cai Rang Floating market of Can Tho is the most famous of these markets. This article will help you understand what the floating market is, it’s purpose, when to go, how to go, and what to buy.
A First Look at Cai Rang Floating Market
Located on Cai Rang River, this floating market is six kilometers away from the center of Can Tho city (the capital of the Mekong Delta), and about 30 minutes away from Ninh Kieu Wharf by boat. Similar to other floating markets in the Mekong Delta (eg: Phong Dien floating market, Cai Be floating market, My Tho floating market), Cai Rang was initially formed to meet the trading needs of the locals while the road traffic system was still in its infancy. Now, 100 years later, it’s still in operation!
Today, even though the road traffic network has developed significantly, Cai Rang floating market keeps growing and brings value to the locals of the country and area in terms of economy, culture, and tourism.
What’s Interesting About Cai Rang Floating Market?
The Bustling Trading Scene
Upon your arrival, you’ll notice the extremely lively and crowded trading atmosphere of Cai Rang floating market. Stare in awe when you see the smooth performances of traders juggling fruit from boat to boat. Interestingly, in the middle of such a bustling trading scene, you will still somehow find strangely comfortable moments while immersing in the rustic lifestyle of the Vietnamese and breathing in the cool breeze of the great river.
As one of the main trading centers of the Mekong Delta, Cai Rang is a place where the locals sell and buy a wide range of products catering to their daily lives. Besides staple commodities, this is a famous location to find local products priced quite reasonably. You can find the freshest fruits harvested from nearby farms: durian, milk fruit, rambutan, mangosteen, grapefruit, etc., or even other processed specialties, such as fish sauce, coconut candy, or dried fish. You can choose from a variety of fresh fruit for a picnic later in the day!
For more information on what you can do, eat, and see in the Mekong Delta, click here: Your comprehensive guide to the Mekong Delta.
On the other hand, visitors shouldn’t miss out on interesting eating experiences while visiting the floating market. Because the trading activities start early in the morning, many floating restaurants open to serve breakfast for both sellers and shoppers. Here, you can find most local dishes, such as pho, hu tieu, com tam, bun rieu, etc. With only 25,000 VND (1 USD), surely you can treat your hunger with quite a hearty meal and even a cup of coffee. Most of the locals have been living with their “floating stall” for about 30 – 40 years, so believe me, they really know how to make their dishes and you will surely get a tasty experience.
PS: You can click on the dishes above – the link will redirect you to a new in-depth page about the dish!
With only 25,000 VND (1 USD), surely you can treat your hunger with quite A hearty meal and even a cup of coffee.
Despite the limitations on space, these “floating restaurants” make delicious food. Take it from the talented chef Gordon Ramsay, who once exclaimed that the bowl of noodles he enjoyed at Cai Rang had one of the best broths he has ever tasted. He found the dish so amazing that he decided to include it as a challenge on his worldwide famous cooking show – Master Chef US.
When to Visit Cai Rang Floating Market
The tropical climate of Vietnam has two major seasons – the dry season that lasts from December to April and the rainy season that lasts from May to November. The weather is relatively mild. As a matter of fact, travelers can visit Cai Rang at any time of the year, each season of course makes for a different experience.
Trips during the rainy season will be much more relaxing due to the cooler atmosphere while the harvest season falls during the dry months, which means there will be more types of native fruits and agricultural products available.
How to Get to Cai Rang Floating Market
Basically, there are two feasible options you can consider when visiting Cai Rang Floating Market:
Go by Yourself
Normally, independent journeys are usually a perfect opportunity if you want to challenge yourself. You will have to manage your time, transportation, and budget. Do keep in mind that doing the floating market by yourself will entail a higher budget. Here is some useful info:
- To travel to Cai Rang floating market, you first need to go to Can Tho city. As the city is the capital of the Mekong Delta, it is not too difficult to get here.
- You can easily book a domestic flight ticket of which the duration is less than two hours from Hanoi or Da Nang. Of course, even Ho Chi Minh City. It will arrive at Can Tho International Airport.
- In the case of departure from Ho Chi Minh City, booking a sleeper bus ticket will get you to Can Tho in five hours. It is comfortable, with reclining chairs that are almost bed-like. Your ticket will be around 10 USD.
- Once you arrived in Can Tho, catch a taxi or motorbike taxi to get to Ninh Kieu Wharf (where you can buy boat tickets) from the city center. The distance is around six kilometers.
- The boat ticket for a two-hour trip per person usually costs from 40,000 VND to 80,000 VND (2 USD – 4 USD).
- If you are traveling in a group, consider renting a whole boat since it may be cheaper and you can add some additional destinations to your trip. The prices for a boat range between 600,000 VND and 1,200,000 VND (30 USD – 60 USD). Don’t forget to tip!
- Make sure to get there early! The sunrise from the boat is fantastic and the food is at its freshest. You can see the market waking up from its slumber!
As stated above, there are several difficulties you may face when deciding to do everything on your own, such as:
- The distance from Saigon to Can Tho is far, and being seated in a small-sized sleeper bus is not the soundest option.
- There is a possibility that you will have to wait for your boat to fill and you may miss the best hours of the market.
- Some boats may take you to their shopping destinations.
- You may face communication difficulties because of the language barrier and easily miss things.
- There is also opportunity for you to be scammed. We hate to admit it, but it happens once in a while.
Buy a Tour
In fact, finding a tour in this situation is a reasonable alternative. You can easily find dozens of tours available on the internet or in the backpacker areas. The trips usually last two days (so you can do the floating market early on the second day) and the prices range from 30 USD to 200 USD. However, check the schedule of the trip before booking since cheap service providers usually take you on a bus with too many tourists or take you to unexpected shopping destinations.
Here at Christian’s, we recommend Onetrip. Onetrip provides a five-star rated tour called “The Amazing Mekong Journey”, which helps travelers immerse in the peaceful natural landscapes of the Delta so you can get away from the daily overcrowded lifestyle. We offer a wide range of choices; the motorbike option for those who want to experience an adventurous journey, a group option for those who travel on a budget and would love to do a little networking, and a private car option for your most relaxing moments.
Not only will you be able to visit the fantastic Cai Rang Market, but you can also get to know the hidden beauties of this giant delta, and visit other sites on your journey. You will be taken to a hidden part of the delta where there are barely any tourists, unlike other tours in which your boat can barely move because of the amount of people. Check the video to see what you will experience!
And check them out on TripAdvisor if you still need convincing!
Click here to book a tour with Onetrip to explore The Cai Rang Floating Market
Some tips and tricks!
Cai Rang floating market is open all day but it is best early in the morning, while the temperature is cool and the sun is not too harsh. Therefore, try to make it before 7 AM because you don’t want to miss the busiest time, when it is at its best.
Know what goods a boat sells, customers only need to obverse the poles erected in front of the boat from a distance. On these poles, the sellers will hang a sample of the products they are selling.
Also, remember to bring a hat and sunblock since the sun will become hot very quickly.
If you want to have the best experience, avoid touristy boats. Take a local fishing boat. You’ll have more flexibility this way and the locals will show you around.
- Capturing beautiful photos is one of the most exciting parts of a trip, so we suggest that you choose a local pineapple boat. Pineapple boats have a roof and you can take pictures from the top. From there, you will have a beautiful panoramic picture of the whole market.
Looking for a place to spend the night? Here are the best hotels, hostels, and homestays in the Mekong Delta.
Enjoyed this article and would like more fun information on what to do, see, and eat while in Vietnam? Visit us at The Christina’s Blog!