Travel

Cai Rang Floating Market – Travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

Visiting one of the famous floating markets in Mekong Delta is one of the highlights in Vietnam. The largest and most impressive of these is the Cai Rang floating market.

The dense network of the Mekong River and its tributaries has developed a waterway transport system and shaped the special habits of the local people here. Visiting the region, you can watch the locals trade goods from their boats, creating a huge floating market. Cai Rang Floating Market near the city of Can Tho is the most famous of these markets.

About the Cai Rang floating market

cai rang floating market – travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

The Cai Rang Floating Market is the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta and is located about six kilometers from Can Tho. You can reach the floating market by boat from Ninh Kieu Wharf in Can Tho town and it is about half an hour by boat.

Cai Rang, like many other floating markets in the Mekong Delta, began as an important trading point. The reason it was done on the river is that this area is completely connected to hundreds of waterways. Owners of fruit orchards, local factories and rice farmers can load the goods directly from their land onto boats in the rivers which they then sail to the market. Traders can then buy goods on these floating markets and transfer goods directly onto their boats. From here they bring it to their shops or even all the way across the river to Ho Chi Minh City to distribute it further there.

Now 100 years later, these floating markets still exist! However, the infrastructure has also improved a lot, as a result of which more and more products are now transported by road. Fortunately, the Cai Rang floating market is still an impressive place where hundreds of boats gather every day to trade locally-picked fruits and vegetables and other local produce.

This unique spectacle of boats now also attracts many travelers to the market and a visit has even been part of the famous chef Gordon Ramsay in one of his cooking shows.

What can you see in the Cai Rang floating market?

The bustling trade scene

When you arrive boating you will soon find hundreds of boats moored in the river as sort of permanent market stalls. Other boats maneuver past it and occasionally moor to trade. After a successful negotiation, the goods are transferred from one boat to another. It is beautiful to see, but above all unique, because there are few places in the world where people trade in this way.

cai rang floating market – travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

Regional products

The products traded on the Cai Rang floating market all come from local factories, plantations, farms and orchards. Most of all fruit in Vietnam comes from the Mekong Delta, so you can see boats filled to the roof with fruit. The fruit can be anything from familiar to what you may not have heard of such as durian, coconuts, jackfruit, rambutan, dragon fruit, pomelo, star apple, mangosteen, soursop, sapodilla and many many more. In addition to fruit, you can of course also find many vegetables and even processed specialties such as coconut sweets, dried fish or fish sauce.

Tip: Many boats have a high pole on which they hang at the top of the product they sell. This way you can see from afar what each boat is selling.

cai rang floating market – travel guide & 5 tips for visiting
cai rang floating market – travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

Food

The Cai Rang floating market starts very early in the morning and for that reason you will also see “floating restaurants” that serve a delicious breakfast. These floating restaurants are nothing more than small traditional sampan boats that sail from boat to boat to sell their delicious breakfast dishes.

cai rang floating market – travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

Breakfast at the Cai Rang floating market

The most popular dishes sold are pho, com tam (broken rice) and hu tieu (pork noodles). Often it costs no more than 25,000 VND, about 1 USD. In addition, you can also wake up with a strong cup of coffee. Despite the limited space on the small wooden boat, these locals can get out of the way with their boiling kettle of soup. A lot of them have been doing this for decades, so they know what they are doing.

Chef Gordon Ramsay even proclaimed that the bowl of noodles he ate at Cai Rang contained one of the best broths he has ever tasted. He loved the dish so much that he decided to include it as a challenge in his worldwide famous cooking show – Master Chef US. Watch the episode here.

When to visit Cai Rang Floating Market?

The tropical climate of Vietnam has two main seasons: the dry season, which runs from November to April, and the rainy season, which lasts from May to October. The weather in the Mekong Delta is relatively mild, so in principle you can visit the Cai Rang floating market all year round.

When you travel during the rainy season, it is often quieter with other travelers. In the dry months it can get quite hot, but then the harvest season falls. This means that there are more varieties of native fruits and agricultural products to be found.

How do you get to Cai Rang floating market?

There are two viable options to consider when visiting Cai Rang floating market:

By yourself

The Cai Rang floating market is located near Can Tho. This means that you must travel to this city first. As one of the largest cities in Vietnam and even the largest in the Mekong Delta, this is quite easy.

From Ho Chi Minh City there are plenty of bus connections to Can Tho. From other parts of the country you can choose to travel to Ho Chi Minh City first, but Can Tho also has its own airport that you can reach with domestic flights from cities such as Hanoi and Da Nang.

Per tour

Most travelers choose to travel to the Mekong Delta by tour. This is mainly due to the fact that it is not always easy to travel between destinations unless you dare to ride a motorcycle yourself.

If you want to travel to the Cai Rang floating market by tour, count on at least a two day tour. Via Local Vietnam there are 4 different options:

  • Mekong Delta homestay experience Can Tho & floating markets (private option)
  • Saigon to Phu Quoc via the Mekong Delta homestay experience (hassle free traveling through the Mekong Delta to or from Phu Quoc)
  • Saigon to Con Dao via the Mekong Delta homestay experience (hassle free traveling through the Mekong Delta to or from Con Dao)
  • The Cai Rang floating market tour (group option)

Tips for visiting

1. Opening times

Unlike most of the other floating markets in the area, Cai Rang is open all day. It is advisable to go in early morning though, as this is the best time to visit. There is more trade and more boats and you can score a delicious breakfast at a floating restaurant. In addition, it is not so hot in the morning to float in the middle of a river.

2. What to bring

You often combine a visit to the floating market with a boat trip through the delta, so be prepared to spend longer on a boat. Bring sunscreen for when the sun gets stronger later in the morning and some extra drinks and possibly a snack. Also make sure you bring some small cash with you to buy breakfast and possibly test your negotiation techniques by buying fruit.

3. Where to stay

Most boat trips to Cai Rang Floating Market start early in the morning, so it’s convenient to arrive the day before to stay in a nearby accommodation. This does not necessarily mean that you have to stay in a hotel in Can Tho itself, even though there is plenty of accommodation here. You can also choose to stay in the countryside around the city, as waterways here are well connected to the larger rivers, making it easy to still get to the floating market. While Can Tho is a fun city to visit, staying in the countryside can provide a more local and authentic experience for many travelers.

4. Boat tour

Make the early morning more worthwhile by combining a visit to the Cai Rang Floating Market with a boat trip through the Delta around Can Tho. If you’re staying further out of the city, for example, before going to Cai Rang, you can visit the Phong Dien Floating Market, which is only open between 5:00 and 6:30. Despite the fact that this market is a lot smaller, it is a more local and cozy market to visit.

You can then explore the narrow channels between the floating markets of Cai Rang and Phong Dien. Along the way you can stop at fruit orchards, local villages and small factories where they make rice paper in traditional ways or other local products. It gives you a unique insight into the local culture.

5. What next?

There are many great things to do in Can Tho and the area surrounding it, except for a boat trip and visiting floating markets, to do to keep you entertained for 1 to 3 days, such as cycling, bird watching in national parks and visiting pagodas.

Alternatives to Cai Rang floating market

Cai Rang Floating Market is the largest floating market, but not the only one. The Cai Be Floating Market is also very popular as it can be visited on a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. The small, but less touristy Phong Dien Floating Market is near Cai Rang, so you can even combine them and visit both in one morning. Long Xuyen is located in An Giang province far from the beaten track and therefore has the most local atmosphere. In the province of Vinh Long, immediately north of Can Tho, you have the Tra On floating market.

View the full list of floating markets in the Mekong Delta here.

Đăng bởi: Định Hà Giang

Từ khoá: Cai Rang Floating Market – Travel guide & 5 tips for visiting

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