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Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang is the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta. It starts around 05:00 and runs until midday, meaning boat tours pick up around 05:00. It’s a six kilometre journey or around a 30-minute boat ride from Can Tho to arrive to the wondrous scene.

Cai Rang is the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta. It starts around 05:00 and runs until midday, meaning boat tours pick up around 05:00. It’s a six kilometre journey or around a 30-minute boat ride from Can Tho to arrive to the wondrous scene.

Packed into a section of river, large vessels sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables grown in the Delta. You’ll see one boat heaped with pineapples, another with carrots while sellers nimbly toss watermelons down to a smaller boat that has latched on. Vessels advertise what they sell by hanging their product from the top of a long bamboo pole at the bow. Need garlic? Scan the horizon and look for the bouquet of bulbs dangling off a boat. Get your radishes! Come here for gourds! they announce.

In between the large cargo vessels, smaller sampans weave in and out selling anything from banh mi to bun rieu, to coffee, coconut water and lottery tickets. The experience of flagging down a sampan loaded with boiling pots of stock and having a bowl of noodle soup on the river is a fun one. It gives new meaning to getting a coffee to go.

Travellers get to experience water commerce in the Delta and observe life on the boat, which is their business, method of transport and home. Steal a glimpse of the kitchen at the back, the clutter of everything they need on board, laundry hanging to dry.

It’s a chance to see a way of life that is disappearing. The waterways were once integral to the French as they exploited Indochina’s natural resources. The need for floating markets like Cai Rang has diminished as roadways and bridges now connect the entire region. River living ain’t easy and vendors are leaving, seeking jobs and housing on land, in the city.

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