Floating market and Mekong delta

Floating market and Mekong delta

A place where boats weaving to each other trying to make an escape. Boats have become a vital means of transportation in Mekong Delta. People carry everything with boats and they gather boats to form a very unique market that we called “floating market” or market on the water.

Floating markets open all day, however, the best time to see them is early morning when the sun starts rising and fog fades away. Therefore, you should get up as soon as the first sunlight comes to shine. You can sit on a small wooden boat leading you through the vibrant market to get the view and fill your lungs with freshness smell from tropical fruits. Otherwise, there is nothing to see as it is too hot for locals to work under the sunlight for a long time.


phong dien floating market.
Phong Dien floating market, Can Tho City, Viet Nam 

Located in the middle of Xa No Channel and Can Tho river, there are 2 two floating markets Phong Dien and Cai Rang. The most vivid one is Phong Dien floating market in Nhon Ai commune. The signature symbol of floating market is “beo hang” - a special marketing style that get the attention of buyers by hanging products on top of bamboo sticks. It is simple but effective to sell things. But if you see one boat with the coconut leaf on top, it means they want to sell the boat. Along with hanging things, some grocery stores use horn advertise instead.


phong dien floating market can tho city
Phong Dien floating market can tho city

Once you come to the floating market, you will not forget the lively atmosphere here. It is not easy to forget the song of the floating market, which is made by the greeting from locals and engines from the machine boat. No matter how fast time flies, the live on floating market remains unchanged. For a long time, Cai Be, Cai Rang, Phong Dien, Nga Bay, Nga Nam, etc. have dwelled in local mind as the must-visit place for buying food and every product that they need for daily life. From these markets, tropical fruits and seafood are transported to the whole country. Thanks to them, we have a new career called “Thuong Ho” - traders on water. They devote their whole life to travel along Mekong Delta to bring essential goods for locals even in remote areas. They are humble and friendly just like million people of the South. Nowadays, you hardly see them due to the development of infrastructure. These traders find it difficult to make a living because the land market, convenient stores, and supermarkets are everywhere.

To have more lively information about what to do, what to eat and how to enjoy the most of your Floating Market Visiting, here goes the help from Hot Vlogger Tiger Andren from Sweeden cooperate with Innoviet Travel : Full UNIQUE Mekong Delta Tour in Vietnam

Though the market activities occur on water, it does not limit the type of product that they sell. You can find from a tiny needle to household tools. Some do offer traditional cakes made of rice, mung beans or coconut or hot noodle soup with good price. It is quite amazing while you sit on the boat and try your best to save your breakfast from falling down because of the current (especially soups). 


cai rang floating market 13
Cai Rang floating market 

While Phung Hiep floating market and Cai Rang floating market is the wholesale hub for agriculture products, Ca Mau floating market is a gathering spot of retailers from all over the regions. 


Ca mau floating market
Selling fruits on the boat


Each boat is a mobile house where family of two or three generations living together. They see boats as their homes and customers as their neighbors. Ca Mau floating market once dotted in Ganh Hao river intersection, which is convenient for local traders (as the river mouth is big and wide) to sell things. Because the market was crowded and busy, the government decided to move it to near Ganh Hao river area, 3km away from Ca Mau city. “Thuong Ho” traders at Ca Mau do two-way trade to earn money. They carry tropical fruits, rice, etc. from the North of Mekong Delta (rich fertilized land) to sell at Southern part (salt marsh). Then they collect charcoal, wood, seafood, etc to trade them in the upper area. This business circle has been lasted for a long time, which helps to create a unique trading style for Ca Mau floating market.


Phung Hiep Floating Market
Phung Hiep Floating Market
Ca mau floating market
Ca mau Floating Market 


Beside all well-known floating markets, there are many unnamed and small markets stretching from Ca Mau province to Kien Giang province. The area has 11 man-made channels which is named by number (from 1 to 11). These floating markets usually open in the entrance or intersection of these channels. People don’t hang stuff on the bamboo stick or shout out to catch attention but paddle their small wooden sampans around to buy what they need. You can call it a farmer’s market as the sellers sell their own-produced products. Good-exchange is the dominant trading method here. It means you do not really need money to buy things. All the things you need to bring your own product.

No matter what scale of the market is, floating markets has become a vital part of Mekong people life for many generations. To old people, they are their childhood and adult life. To the young, they are the cultural legacy that they are proud of. 

Source: Phuongnamplus (2016). Cho noi va van hoa song nuoc Mien Tay


Translator: Nhung Vu

Editor: Vi Lam