Floating markets in Mekong Delta and Facts you may not know

Floating markets in Mekong Delta and Facts you may not know

1. How many floating markets in Mekong Delta

Originally, there were total 7 floating markets in Mekong Delta: Cái Răng floating Market, Phong Điền floating market, Ngã Bảy floating market, Ngã Năm floating market, Cái Bè floating market, Long Xuyên floating market and Trà Ôn floating market. But nowadays, with the improvement of infrastructure and transportation, we just only have a chance to see only 5 floating markets left. 

Cái Răng floating market

Cái Răng floating market is the most well-known and biggest floating market in Mekong Delta. Every tourist when I ask them “What is your impression with Mekong Delta?”. Their answer most of the time is Cái Răng floating market. It is located on Cần Thơ river. The distance from Cái Răng floating market to Cần Thơ city is around 6 kilometers. It will take you around 30-minute driving by boat. We already published a travel guide to Cai Rang floating market, you can have a look here.

Cai Rang floating market travel tour

Phong Điền floating market

Together with Cái Răng floating market, tourists also look for Phong Điền floating market, another attractive destination in Can Tho City. The different between Cái Răng floating market and Phong Điền floating market is that Phong Điền floating market is organized for retailing. It’s different from Cái Răng floating market when it is used for wholesaling. Because of the difference in the function, the size and how it is organized is also different as well. Basically, Phong Điền floating market is smaller than Cái Răng floating market. If you are looking for a travel guide to Phong Điền floating market, you can read another blog here.

Phong Dien Floating Market travel tour - credit: AnBinh

Ngã Năm floating market

Nga Nam floating market travel tour

Ngã Năm floating market is not so well known like Cái Răng floating market or Phong Điền Market. The distance from Cái Răng floating market to Ngã Năm floating market is around over 60 kilometer. So we can understand that it is not easy for tourists to go to this destination. It is located at Sóc Trăng City. Although you can travel to this destination by your own or booking a private tour from travel agencies around Cần Thơ City or Saigon

Cái Bè floating market

Cai be Floating Market travel Tour - credit: trinhhoaitri

Cái Bè floating market is the only floating market that you can travel within a day. If you go there by bus to join a group tour, it will take you around 2 hours to get there. Cai Be floating market is located at Tiền Giang province. But some tourists soon feel disappointed because there is not much to see. It is the result of the development of land transportation, local people here do not need to move around to travel by boat anymore. So most of boats you see here are served for tourists.

Long Xuyên floating market

Long Xuyên floating market is another floating market still working until now. It is located in An Giang Province, right in Long Xuyên City, on Hau River. From Innoviet Travel’s office, it will probably take you around 4 hours to get there. A long-distance like that creates a barrier for travelers to get there. But if you have an opportunity to get here, or Ngã Năm and Cái Răng floating market, you still can see a real authentic atmosphere of the floating market.

2. History of floating markets in Mekong Delta

So far, no researcher has been able to confirm when floating markets were created nor explain the mechanism of floating market formation in the most accurate way. Some historians debate

to each other that due to historical-political conditions, the Nguyen period (XVII century) of southern exploitation was also near the time when the Qing Dynasty in China established a new dynasty. Many Chinese people still loyal to the Ming dynasty separated and fled to other lands such as Taiwan and Southeast Asia, including Gia Định in Vietnam. The Chinese merchant vessels that traded in Gia Định at that time were not uncommon. They take boats along the sea, go upstream and trade throughout the canals of the Mekong region. They did not stay just in one place, they used boats and ships to move around. Thus floating markets were formed.

The second element comes from the geographical features, with the complex of river and canal system, the local people here had to bring all of their agriculture products on boat use them to move around and trade with other people. In the past, land transportation and road system was not so developed. Therefore, rowboat, boat, and ship were used as common vehicles to go around their neighborhood.

3. How do floating markets in Mekong Delta work

Floating markets start every day from very early morning So if you want to see the activity of the floating market, make sure that you come as soon as possible. The function of most of the floating markets in Mekong Delta is for wholesale market. Only Phong Điền floating market is used to serve for normal daily life of local people.

When you travel to Cái Răng floating market, you will see that on every boat, there is an agriculture product hanging on a wooden stick. The meaning of this wooden stick is to tell other people or trader that is the product that is offered by the owner of the boat. That is the way how the traders at the floating market in Mekong Delta advertise their products.

However, some product is hanged but not for sale, that’s the cloth of the owner of the ship. Besides that, there is a code of the place where this boat comes from on the boat. For example, “TG” stands for the boats which come from Tiền Giang Province.

One thing about the location of the floating market is that all of the floating markets are placed at the intersection of the Mekong River. Because that are huge places and have enough space for many boats to gather together to trade and spread out all of the corners of Mekong Delta to sell those products for retailers.

4. Future of floating markets in Mekong Delta

Some scientists predict that with the explosion of building dams at the upstream of the Mekong River, it will reduce the amount of water from upstream to the Mekong Delta region. It will affect all of the daily life of the local people in the Mekong Delta and become a potential threat to the floating market. With Cái Bè floating market, I have to admit that there is not much to see there because the local people do not have to use boats and ships to move around to trade thanks to the development of land transportation. And maybe one day, Cái Bè floating market can be erased on the tourism map of Mekong Delta. So in that case, Cái Răng is most worth-seeing floating market in Mekong Delta so far

5. Conclusion

So this is some facts and information you may not know about floating markets in Mekong Delta. But I know that this blog can’t help you understand floating markets clearly. So if you have an opportunity, let’s visit floating markets as soon as possible, because this may disappear someday.

Writer: Thinh Tran

Editor: Vi Lam