Cai Rang floating market is well-known as Can Tho floating market. Cai Rang floating market, more than hundred years old, is one of the biggest authentic floating markets in the world which is the best highlight and must-do in Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam.
1. Better to Know as a Tourist
Spend-time: An hour (approx)
Hours: Dawn – dusk
Parking lot: Yes for boat, coach
Address: Cai Rang Bridge, Cai Rang District, Can Tho City. About 6 km from Can Tho city center.
Recognition(s): was recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage in June 2016. The UK’s Rough Guide selected Cai Rang Floating Market as one of the ten most impressive markets in the world, characterized by colorful boats selling tropical agricultural products.
Added values: It is considered as one of the gems worth discovering for those who are passionate about simplicity and uniqueness and originality of the cultural Mekong river life now and then.
Nearby attractions and hidden gems: Looking for places to stop on your way to and from Cai Rang floating market? Or maybe you found it too crowded here? We’ve got some ideas! Check out our list: Phong Dien floating market (1 hour by boat), organic cacao farm (30 minutes away by boat), fruit gardens (30 minutes away by boat), Can Tho rice noodle factory (10 minutes by boat).
2. Travel Guide to Cai Rang Floating Market
Cai Rang floating market is one of the most famous and biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta. It is also a living museum of the southern traditional culture that has been fostered by the Mekong Delta’s interlacing waterway systems. The market is on the Cai Rang river. It is five kilometres by road from the centre of Can Tho. It is a wholesale market, selling fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products from Can Tho city as well as from 13 neighbouring provinces in the Mekong Delta region.
Cai Rang floating market is much more geared towards locals than tourists; therefore, it doesn’t have souvenir stalls like the other mainland markets. Unlike the mainland markets, the shops and stalls at Cai Rang floating market are boats of different sizes. The market was born hundred years ago (many French sources recorded in 1899) from the local people’s habit of travelling and doing business by boat on the region‘s interlacing waterway systems. In the south-western region, boats and rafts are important means of transportation, like motorbikes and cars are in other regions. Cruising through the river in a boat, local vendors conduct all their business right on the water. All the goods are transported to the market by rafts (not much now), sampans and boats. The floating market is not only a place where rural products are sold but also unique features of life are found on these boats. The market constitutes a “canal civilization” with many traders living on the river and some link their lives with their boats. On the deck of the boats, visitors can see generations of one family, children or babies, and even some dogs, chickens and gardens, as the boats are the familys’ mobile homes.
The floating market has made a contribution not only to cultural exchange but also waterway economic development. The market opens every day from sunrise until evening and the busiest time is from dawn until 9:30 a.m. In the early morning, the waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats and junks of all sizes are anchored along the river about a kilometre; all carrying a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Traders come to the market to buy fruits and vegetables and then bring them to other markets or the big trucks will take them all to many mainland wholesale markets (mainly in HCMC). Unlike shops and stalls in ordinary markets, sellers cannot cry out to advertise their wares since it is impossible to be heard amidst the noise of running boat engines. That is why it is essential for each boat to display a long upright pole (the locals call “Cay Beo”) at its bow on which the sellers hang samples of their products. If they sell bananas and durian, they will hang bananas and durian on the pole (“Cay Beo”) so that buyers can see what items are on sale from a distance. This way of selling is simple but has existed over a hundred years.
Recently, to meet the demands of traders and visitors throughout the market, many new services have been created. Going to the market now, visitors not only find people buying and selling agricultural produce but also find floating restaurants, floating bars, floating gas stations, and many other floating shops which sell breakfast, coffee, beer, soft drinks, rice wine, cigarettes and even the lottery tickets. These boats are often small, so they can move through crowded areas to serve people. Boats also operate like taxis which is very convenient for tourists to hire and travel around the floating market.
With the advent of several new road networks and bridges over many rivers, as well as the setting up of supermarkets on the mainland, the indispensability of floating markets has been dented somewhat, but the waterways still offer the only route to several rural remote areas in the Mekong Delta region. Many locals still prefer floating markets, which have been a part of their daily lives and livelihoods for generations
Top tip: The best way to discover this market is by boat or sampan. Anyway, there is a Cai Rang bridge nearby the market which gives you a bird’s eye view of this stunning market as well.
3. What to Do – See – Eat at Cai Rang Floating Market
Unlike floating markets in Thailand, floating markets in Vietnam, including the Cai Rang floating market, have evolved naturally over hundred year. Thus, they are not only markets but also bring with them features of traditional culture. This specific feature of the floating market attracts both Vietnamese people and foreign tourists. According to Vemekong inspections, the market has about 300–500 local boats and many tourist boats each day. Trading activities at the Cai Rang floating market are an occasion for visitors not only to buy indigenous specialties but also to sense the hardships of the sellers and learn more about the local peoples. A visit to the Cai Rang floating market is a great way to experience how the local population uses the river canals for transportation and commerce.
It is a market for agricultural goods, especially fruits. There are a hundred and one kinds of tropical fruit such as mangoes, mangosteens, rambutans, dragon fruits, longans and the like. You will still somehow find strangely comfortable moments while immersing in the rustic lifestyle of the Vietnamese and breathing in the cool breeze of the great river. A drink seller will also approach you via boat. You can enjoy a fresh coconut, Vietnamese coffee and even try local bun rieu – noodle soup…from the floating boats. A bridge nearby offers great views, but nothing compares to exploring the market by boat. However, only the Cai Rang floating market is not enough to know well about the floating culture of locals. Top tip: In the US program Masterchef season 4, episode 21, broadcast on August 28, 2013 on Fox TV channel, Vietnamese noodle soup has become a difficult topic for the contestants in the top 5. Gordon Ramsay’s favorite dish when he came to Cai Rang floating market, Can Tho, Vietnam. Do not miss the noodle soup (Hu Tieu or Bun Rieu) there!
4. Free Itineraries from VeMekong
As a local travel expert, we have some ideas for you to think about.
From Can Tho city center:
Route 1: Hotel in Can Tho center – boat station – Cai Rang floating – rice noodle factory – hotel in Can Tho center [half day]
Route 2: Hotel in Can Tho center – boat station – Phong Dien floating market – Cai Rang floating – rice noodle factory – fruit gardens – hotel in Can Tho center [half day]
Route 3: Hotel in Can Tho center – boat station – Phong Dien floating market – Cai Rang floating – rice noodle factory – fruit gardens – organic cacao farm – Local lunch – hotel in Can Tho center [full day]
If you do not have much time left, it is easy to check out spots in one full day by boat or with bike or with motorbike and car. But there are much more than tourist sites like these in Can Tho. Make sure you have more time to feel and explore more about the hidden gems and the culture, food, night life, wildlife and forest as well. Top tip: Stay in a homestay nearby, so you have more chances to visit it and surroundings. If you are looking for the package Can Tho day tour with local, you can contact www.vemekong.com or Hotline/WhatsApp/WeChat/Zalo +84939888559; email: email@example.com
5. Google Maps of Cai Rang Floating Market
Google Maps made a name for itself helping people travel from one place to another, avoid traffic (You probably know the route from your hotel to the gas station by heart, but what you can’t be sure about is gridlock), measure a distance, get back to the hotel on time, share the location…
6. Visit Cai Rang Floating Market by yourself
Solo traveller? Travelling on your own means you will get out of any difficult situations by yourself. This, in turn, leads to more satisfying travel experiences and helps you improve your problem-solving skills. These days we rarely get the chance to sit with ourselves and simply be. That’s why you should consider the time you spend alone on your trip as a gift.
From Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Rang floating market by yourself? Take a sleeping Futa bus (125,000 VND per person) to go to Can Tho (about 5 hours one way – 3,5 hours on the bus, and the waiting time for departure, rest stop, pick up, drop off…). When you arrive at the Can Tho bus station, it is about 15 minutes or 6 km to reach Ninh Kieu Wharf by taxi (a taxi costs around 80,000 VND. Mai Linh taxi (+842923656565). Khanh Cuong taxi (+842923868686) if you have time! You can wait and then take the free Futa transfer service to Ninh Kieu Wharf and let’s tour! Rent a sampan by yourself (about 250.000vnd [~11$] for 2 or 3 people) or rent a boat (about 660.000vnd [~30$] for 7 people) with a roof and life jackets, no tour guide. Another way is to book a package Can Tho Tour From Ho Chi Minh 1 Day (HCM-Can Tho-HCM), pick-up at 04:00 AM at your hotel from Ho Chi Minh city center; 119$ per person).
From Can Tho city center to Cai Cai Rang floating market? We personally think you will take the Futa bus to Can Tho, then stay overnight at Best Extended Stay Can Tho Hotels, the next early morning tour will be super & wonderful to enjoy the breathtaking views of markets (from 5 am to 9 am because you can observe the daily overcrowded lifestyle of the locals at that time) because you can start the floating market tours with many departures at 4:30 AM, 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM, 7:00 AM from Can Tho city center.
7. Responsible Travel and Advice to Cai Rang Floating Market
It is always good to repeat “responsible travel” over and over. The river itself is facing so many challenges and pollution from chemical and human waste and modern life with high-tech. We do appreciate any of you who do visit and take good behavior to the river and the local village. Top tip: Please take this note “be a part of the solution, not part of the pollution”.
8. Amazing Video flycam/drone of Cai Rang Floating Market (4k)
If a picture says a thousand words, it stands to reason that the video says many times more.
9. Incredible Tips for Photography, Specialists, KOLs, Media and Influencers
To get the best of the best for your unique writing, featuring, photo, video and insider’s stories. We do recommend you to have a local travel expert, the one who always gets more ground information and makes sure every single element is solved perfectly. Vemekong (very exclusive Mekong) team is your priority choice. Email and have a private talk with them to customize your journey smoothly, personal and the most ultimately amazing. You can contact www.vemekong.com or Hotline/WhatsApp/WeChat/Zalo +84939888559; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Cai Rang Floating Market Opens during Lunar New Year?
We do not think so! Cai Rang floating market opens all year round but it does “close” and has no boat and no activities during the traditional Tet Lunar New Year, but the Christmas and Calendar New Year are fine. Top tip: If you make a visit to this market one week before Lunar New Year, you win the best days of the year for the market. This time the market is like the flower floating market, so that many media choose this time for any MV video or marketing PR shots and more.
11. Pro Tips
Best enjoying time to be right at the spot is from 5:30am-6:30am. I hope you have an amazing sunrise on the Mekong Delta river.
You can stay in a homestay which is near the floating market, this will help you out the best option. Then you can hire a scooter, car or bike and explore it by yourself, but you still need to hire a boat for the floating markets.
If you plan to extend your travel to Can Tho homestay, do not forget to bring mosquito repellent cream.
Visit Can Tho or do any customized tours, please choose reputable providers with boat trips equipped with lifebuoys, jackets, motorcycle and cycling tours with the helmets and. Safety is a priority! Choose Can Tho responsible tours which help you give back while traveling. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.
Can Tho food & drink guide ranges from street food, authentic, fancy to fusion foods. As a tropical land of many fresh vegetables and homegrown gardens, which always make Can Tho cuisines fresh, close to nature and very traditional. If you are a food lover, don’t hesitate to put other bites onto your food lists such as Cong cake in Can Tho, Ut Dzach Fine Rice Vermicelli…
Bring your hat, sunglasses, and sunblock, scarf to wear when visiting temples, pagodas, and the cathedral.
Bring the raincoat if you’re planning a trip to Can Tho in the rainy season, as Can Tho always looks fantastic in the full rain and full sun.
Can Tho tourist attractions are magnificent itself, but if you have enough time, don’t forget to put other places onto your bucket lists such as Can Tho Wildlife & Forest, Binh Thuy Ancient House, Organic Cacao farm, Can Tho Floating Markets, Can Tho Small Canals & Sampan Ride, Can Tho Fruit Garden, Can Tho Paddy Rice Fields, Can Tho Giant Ficus Tree – Secret VC base, Can Tho Rice Noodle Factory, Can Tho Old Market, Phong Dien floating market, Truc Lam Phuong Nam Zen Monastery, Can Tho to Con Dao – Express boat, Son Islet – Community-based Tourism…
Hopefully, the above tips will help you to come up with a great plan for your adventure in Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Have a safe trip!
“Sleep less, travel more, respect more” – Thomas Vietnam – Local travel expert.