The Floating Markets of Vietnam

The Floating Markets of Vietnam

Southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Region is one of the country’s most interesting and exciting destinations to visit. A veritable water world, interconnecting veins of waterways connect locals to the life-giving Mekong where they conduct much of their daily business.

While the general landscape of the Delta region is stunning, there’s one aspect that truly stands out from the rest: the floating markets! Visiting Vietnam’s floating markets is a “must do” for anyone traveling to the country’s southern regions. So long as you can stomach the departure time, a day trip out to these iconic markets is well worth the early wake up call!

The floating markets get started very early (some around 4:00 AM), so most tours will be leaving the Can Tho area shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, because the markets start and finish so early, visitors staying in Ho Chi Minh City will not be able to squeeze the experience into a day trip. With many attractions in and around the Mekong Delta, however, a couple days’ stay in the region is well worth the trip.

Embarking from the dock to your floating market of choice, you will pass some remarkable sites along the way. From traditional “stilt” houses- built to protect the inhabitants from flooding waters- and beautifully painted local vessels (look out for the eyes painted on the front of the boats- they are meant to protect the fishermen from bad weather and to help them “see their way home”) to the overloaded merchant carriers bringing everything and anything into the region, there’s a photo opportunity around the corner!

Once inside the floating markets, you will notice each boat has a long pole attached to it with a single product standing at the top- this signifies what they’re selling. Local vendors sell everything from exotic fruits and vegetables to soups, coffee, snacks and petrol- truly everything you need! Not sold on the idea? The markets are anything but a tourist trap… locals come into the markets every day on their personal boats to purchase their daily necessities- whether or not there are tourists watching- it’s truly a unique site to experience!

Tours generally include a guided visit through the floating markets, a visit to local orchards and a quick breakfast- fruits, iced coffee, hot noodle soups- whatever the locals are selling! Visitors may also opt for longer tours through the surrounding canals and waterways providing an excellent glimpse into local life along the delta.

Where are the best floating markets in Vietnam?

The most popular floating markets in the Mekong Region are as follows:

- Cai Be (2 hours from HCMC, just west of Tien Giang Province)

- Phung Hiep (1 hour from Vinh Long)

- Cai Rang (6 km from Can Tho)

- Phong Dien (20 km south of Can Tho)

- Tra On (Located in Vinh Long on the Hau River)

- Long Xuyen (Located in An Giang)

- Chau Doc (Located right along the Cambodian Border)

Whatever destination you choose, you’re guaranteed to have an incredible (and extremely photogenic) experience!