On the second day of our Mekong Delta boat tour, we cruised over to the Cai Rang floating market to check out all of the hustle and bustle and commotion taking place in Can Tho, Vietnam. This was excursion would be the centerpiece activity of our tour for the day.
Not long after we started cruising down the Mekong Delta, our boat stopped at a floating gas station to fill up. While gas was be pumped into our boat I couldn't help but notice two sleeping dogs; they looked extremely docile and I instantly wondered how/if they received enough exercise.
As we continued on our boat journey, we noticed ladies wearing conical hats paddling simple crafts all the way to large vessels with a crew; these waters were certainly anything but calm.
As we approached the actual floating market the pace of activity and exchange really started to pick up. The majority of trade appeared to be involving the exchange of tropical fruits - especially pineapples- being tossed in the air from one boat to another. It was fascinating watching the contrast between those who were sleeping and taking it easy on their boats versus the very productive workers who at times were scooping water out of their boat or hauling or tossing multiple items from one craft to another.
A small boat pulled up alongside powered by a Vietnamese lady and a very determined and somewhat overzealous little hustling son. With enthusiasm and charm this little Vietnamese boy was able to sell skewered pineapple sticks and iced coffee to a large percentage of the tourists on our boat - including both of us. They must have made a small fortune; good for them ;)
Overall, the market offered a glimpse of what life is like at a floating market although we did find it a bit touristy - with many parts seemingly more catered towards selling to tourists rather than locals:
One of the most interesting sights in the Delta are the floating markets and associated river life. Cai Rang Floating Market is open all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 9am. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung.
During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes. Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, wine and soft drinks go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors. Sellers tie their goods to a
Transporting fruit on a small boat
tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling.
Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners. You can see the market in the distance, it does not look like much, just a mass of boats. The boats all display their wares on a mast so you can see what they have available.
To visit Cai Rang Floating Market, visitors can join a tour of the Mekong Delta. On the way to Can Tho, visitors can stop to visit My Tho and take a boat trip to visit orchards, bee farms and coconut candy establishments in Ben Tre: vietnam-beauty.com/top-destinations/223-get-to-know-cai-rang-floating-market-.html
This is part of our Travel in Vietnam series. We're making a series of videos showcasing Vietnamese culture, Vietnamese arts, Vietnamese foods, Vietnamese religion and Vietnamese people.
All photos and video taken by Samuel Jeffery (Nomadic Samuel) and Audrey Bergner (That Backpacker).
This video features the song ''Phat Sketch - Kevin Macleod" available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Commercial license.
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