5 vibrant floating markets in Vietnam you must visit

5 vibrant floating markets in Vietnam you must visit

Delving into the world of floating markets in Vietnam is an unparalleled experience for travelers who truly want to explore and feel the vibrant atmosphere here. Floating markets have existed for hundreds of years and have become a vital part of the local life in the Mekong Delta. Known for its complex river system, the Mekong Delta waterway seems to never sleep with hundreds of boats floating along daily, making it one of the main attractions in South East Asia.

floating markets in Vietnam
The boat is not only a stall but also the house of the shopkeepers

Cai Be floating market – Tien Giang

floating market in Vietnam
You can identify what is sold by each boat by looking at samples hanging off at the top of a large pole.

Cai Be floating market is located in Cai Be district, Tien Giang province – on the giant Tien river (one of the two main streams of Cuu Long river). This is a hub for transporting goods, fruits and sea foods to and from the Mekong Delta and the rest of Vietnam.  It remains a convenient choice for many foreign travelers due to its short distance from Ho Chi Minh city.

Unlike other floating markets in Vietnam which start early in the morning and therefore finish earlier, Cai Be market stays open until late, to accommodate for travelers who might not be as keen on mornings as the Vietnamese! Right from first moment of sunrise, boats start gathering and kicking off their daily trading activities.

As the floating market is open all day long, you can easily visit whenever you like to witness the lively and vibrant atmosphere of a Southern styled market. If you’re a photographer or simply love capturing moments, Cai Be is truly an endless source of inspiration to bring out unique ideas and images.

Nga Bay market – Hau Giang

Nga Bay floating market
Colorful Nga Bay floating market

Nga Bay floating market, also known as Phung Hiep floating market opened in 1915 and since then it has been a key trading spot for the locals in Nga Bay town. This market is very popular for travellers who aspire to discover the rich and diverse culture of Mekong Delta.

In the morning, the whole market comes alive with colour with vivid stacks of veggies, fruits and other household goods. Interestingly, each boat here only sells one particular type of good which loosely hang on the lateral bar for promotion. The market also sells animals such as turtles, birds, and even lizards to supply the locals and tourists’ demand. Goods sold here are occasionally transported nation wide and exported overseas.

If you ever had a chance to visit, do not forget to spend your early morning absorbing the whole atmosphere, floating across the river, sipping on your iced coffee, listening to a couple of folk songs and appreciating the colourful ao ba ba – the traditional southern Vietnamese garments. You will feel yourself blending into mixed crowds of locals who keep smiling yet never give up on bargaining.

Nga Nam market – Sóc Trăng

floating markets in Vietnam
A typical food stall you can find at any floating markets

Nga Nam market, unsurprisingly, is located in Nga Nam town province, where five rivers, Ca Mau, Vinh Quoi, Long My, Thanh Tri and Phung Hiep interchange. Nga Nam market is famous for its hustle and bustle atmosphere that no other floating market in Vietnam can compare to.

If you visit Nga Nam market you can enjoy endless stretches of boats displaying their wide range of goods, with dangling cabbage, potato, tomato and garlic. Being the central market of the entire Mekong delta area, this market provides most of the goods and specialities from this region, from signature types of rice and tropical fruits to countless types of seafood, displaying the pure range of resource diversity the Mekong Delta has to offer. You will find it hard to resist temptation when approached by some southern merchants, offering their delightful fish noodle, rice soup or coffee.

Nga Nam floating market nowadays still retains the uniqueness of Mekong country side as well as typical attributes that make it special such as ao ba ba, sweet old folk songs and distinctive accent of Southern people.

Cai Rang market – Can Tho

floating markets in Vietnam
Some locals spend their entire life on the floating market and their boats have become their house.

As one of the largest floating markets in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Cai Rang, where around 350 boats sell a variety of fruits and vegetables among other things, attracts 500-700 tourists every day, most of them foreigners.

Cai Rang floating market is a big wholesale market and the must see place for travelers when they visit Can Tho. The market starts at 5am and becomes crowded at 6am. Cai Rang is famous for being the largest fruit selling hub, specialising in exotic fruits such as Nam Roi grapefruit, Ving Long pink kiwi kumquat or Cai Mon durian. Similar to other floating markets, produce from the local area are hung on top of a long bar to showcase and attract customers.

Interestingly, you can have breakfast served on boats with plastic chairs available, which turns it into a makeshift restaurant. Although a typical breakfast in this area will consist mainly of dishes such as rice noodle and soups, if you wander around and explore further, you will have a lot of invitations to buy local traditional snacks from coconut-leaf-cake to corn or banana pancake.

While visiting Cai Rang market, you will become immersed in the true spirit of commercial water culture. All that remains for you to do is to enjoy the floating feeling, watch the sunrise behind boat roofs and get a feel for the busy local life.

Long Xuyen market – An Giang

Long Xuyen floating market
Fruits and veggies are diverse and unbelievably cheap at floating markets

Long Xuyen floating market is a hidden gem, this market is one of the less popular floating markets in Vietnam, but definitely worth a try if you are in search of a place that gives off easy and genuine vibes of Mekong Delta’s people and nature. The most popular local produce sold here are veggies, pickles, squash, sweet potato, fruits and typical West-Southern snacks as fish rice noodle, pig-skinned pieces or salad roll. Surprisingly, you cannot find a single person bargaining here since the market mostly serves local people and hardly commercialised.

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8 Comments

how to get to those floating markets from ho chi minh city? I am finding a private tour last 2 days to travel around floating markets.

My experience: If you want to have best experience, avoid touristy boats. Take a local fishing boat. You’ll have more flexibility this way and the local will show you around.

You need to be there before 8am so catch your boat from 5.30 to 7am and you will see all the activity. It’s really fun way to understand local customs

I looooved the floating market!

Vi was our first experience with Inspitrip and it was a really good one. Everything was perfectly arranged. And with perfectly I mean that the driver would exactly arrive at the moment we got to the road, so 0 waiting time.

She’s also very nice to chat with and knows all the ins and outs about Vietnam and the Mekong Delta. My parents and I had a great day.

I completely recommend Vi Tour for you Will experience the real local, intimate life!

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