Cai Rang is home to the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta. The market is near the city of Can Tho, which is about four hours from Ho Chi Minh City; too far for a day trip, so an overnight stay is required.
I had spent eight months of the last year in Vietnam yet I still had not made a visit to the delta region, so on the way back to Vietnam from Cambodia I made the detour to Can Tho. This trip was a last minute idea and it turned out that my lack of planning worked in my favour. I arrived at my hotel late and as the market tours leave early I didn’t have time to shop around for tour options or prices. I booked the only tour the hotel had on offer and retired for the evening.
The next morning I was dropped off at the river where I met my guide; a grandma piloting a small boat, with me as the sole passenger. This arrangement turned out to be the best way to see the market.
We left Can Tho to make our way up the river to the market at Cai Rang, which is about 6km away. We weren’t far into the trip before the first drink boat found its way to us. I was relieved to have my first coffee of the day and enjoy the novelty of being served by a coffee boat.
[The breakfast beverage boat arrives!]
My boat driver/sailor/pilot(?) had no English and my Vietnamese is limited to numbers so there was no guided tour, but I found this to be a more enjoyable way to see the market than being on a large boat with 30 other people and no control of what to visit. Whenever I saw a vendor of interest I just pointed and my guide would take me there.
[A large tour boat stopping for drinks.]
I had heard that much of the market activity in the delta is gradually being shifted to land markets, but there is still enough market activity to see how these floating markets operate.
[Man on his boat.]
[I noted that most of the small boats were piloted by women.]
After an hour on the water my boatswoman stopped for a soup break.
After a few laps of the market we headed back to Can Tho via a back canal. Even with the throng of tourist crowds, this was one of the most enjoyable mornings out I have had in Vietnam, mainly due to the type of tour I went on.
[Motors parked for the day]
The tour went for three hours and cost $20usd. I had my tour arranged at my hotel, but I read that you can go down the riverside in Can Tho and look for a boat there. There are also seven hour tours available.
Cai Rang Floating Market from Travelfish.