Cai Rang floating market guide (2020) | A must-go destination in Mekong

Cai Rang floating market is a must-visit place in Mekong delta, Vietnam. This floating market is a priceless “specialty” of Can Tho locals in particular and the people of the Western Region in general. The market not only preserves the cultural beauty of this rivers region, but it also becomes part of Western residents’ life.

Cai Rang floating market in the morning
Cai Rang floating market in the morning

General information about Cai Rang floating market, Vietnam

Where is Cai Rang floating market?

Located on the gentle Hau river, Cai Rang floating market is near Cai Rang bridge, about 6km from central Can Tho City, and it takes you approximately 30 minutes by boat from Ninh Kieu Quay.

Check in Cai Rang floating market - Can Tho floating market tour
How to get to Can Tho floating market is simple, departing from the office of Mekong Smile Tour (81 Chau Van Liem, An Lac Ward, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City), you can rent a boat from Ninh Kieu Quay with a 6km-road (around 30-45 minutes by waterway). During the way to the Vietnam floating market, you can sit on a boat, admire the stunning view of the sunrise, and enjoy Western people’s pace of life via the introduction of lovable tour guides.

Busy activities in the floating market Vietnam

Cai Rang floating market address

Introduction about the history of Cai Rang floating market

Cai Rang floating market is a characteristic Western floating market of the Mekong Delta. This market was opened up in the early 20th century. The market was then moved from Cai Rang bridge to Phong Dien in the 90s of the 20th century, about 1km away from the previous position. Cai Rang floating market is currently situated downstream of Can Tho river, around 600m from Cai Rang bridge.

Cai Rang floating tour

In the past, the Mekong delta floating market was formed because streets and vehicles had not been developed; meanwhile, to meet the demand for trading and exchanging goods, residents gathered on the river by using canoes, boats, or sampans. Although road traffic networks have been extensively advanced, the floating market still remains and develops.

The differences between the old and the modern Cai Rang floating market

Old Cai Rang floating market in Vietnam was very hectic with busy boats, even thousands of boats mooring on Can Tho river, and all types of goods were sold on these boats. According to Vnexpress, in 2019, the number of boats declined by 550 units compared to 2005 (800 boats).

Cai Rang floating market now and then

Modern Cai Rang floating market is still bustling but very different from one in the past as more and more tourists visit it now. It is once said: “There are more tourist boats than cargo ships on Cai Rang floating market”, which is true. In 2020, approximately 200-300 boats are anchored every day for trading. Some days, there are fewer boats depending on seasons.

Can Tho floating market

Many households abandoned their boats and sought for a more stable job on the ground. That is to say, life on the river is not easy. The river, however, is still flowing, and the waterways still play a significant role in the Western local people. Many uncles and aunts remain their passion for the career and owing to the preservation of the government, the floating market in Viet Nam has been maintained up to now.

How to get to Cai Rang floating market

There are various ways to go to Can Tho floating market depending on the region you are living in.

If you are in the Central / Northern provinces/ cities, you can travel by plane to Can Tho International Airport. Inexpensive airfare ranges from 700.000đ – 2.000.000đ relying on airline brands and departure time.

Mekong delta floating market

If you depart from Saigon, you can go by motorbike, car or coach. This is the most popular way for those who intend to visit Can Tho floating market. With a distance of more than 150km, it will take you around 3 – 4 hours depending on means of transportation. Coach fare ranges from 100.000 – 125.000đ depending on occasions and gasoline prices. Mekong Smile suggests you some reliable coach brands selected by numerous tourists such as: Thanh Buoi, Phuong Trang, …

Experiences to visit Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho

When is the best time to go to the market?

Unlike the markets on the ground, Can Tho floating market in particular and other floating markets of the Western Region, in general, are always open very early. The market normally takes place from 5 am to 9 am with trading and exchanging activities.

Buy fruits in Cai Rang floating market
However, you should visit Cai Rang floating market between 5 am and 7 am to enjoy the full gorgeousness of this market. The reason is that you do not only admire the vibrant dawn, but you also witness the busiest and most effervescent time. As a result, the ideal time to visit Cai Rang floating market is 5.30 am when the sun just rises dimly. The weather is not too hot at that time so you can freely take check-in photos with your family.

Ticket price for Cai Rang floating market

You need not pay any fees when sightseeing in the floating market. You only need to hire boats or canoes from Ninh Kieu Quay or An Binh market wharf to get to Cai Rang floating market.

How to get to Cai Rang floating market

Boat fares for Can Tho floating market are also affordable, only 150,000 VND (from An Binh wharf) and from 350,000 VND (from Ninh Kieu wharf). The experience will be much satisfying if you depart from Ninh Kieu Quay as you are able to enjoy the sunrise, the image of fishermen catching fish, and living along the river.

How to rent a boat to visit Cai Rang floating market

Renting boats to visit Cai Rang floating market in Mekong delta, Vietnam has gradually become popular at the moment. Nevertheless, many tourists still wonder how to rent boats at a reasonable price. Mekong Smile suggests you the best ways to rent a boat with a literally economical price.

Floating restaurants in Cai Rang floating market Vietnam

  • If you travel with your friends or family (5-7 people), you can rent boats to Cai Rang floating market for your group.
  • If you go with a few people (1-3 people) you can book a group tour to visit the floating market
  • However, if you go alone or travel with a few friends but want to keep your own privacy, you can also rent a small boat to visit the market.

Cai Rang floating market Tourism Festival

Cai Rang floating market festival (so-called Cai Rang floating market tourism festival) organized the Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in coordination with the People’s Committee of Cai Rang District. This is an annual activity to honor the cultural identity of the Southwestern rivers region. Additionally, the festival has several unique entertaining, recreational activities to promote tourism, including boat parades, food stalls, traditional folk games, discounts on boat tickets for tourists. To attend the festival, you should anticipate a suitable time, as well as ways to visit the floating market. You can contact travel agencies like Mekong Smile for the best consultation.

Tourism festival in Can Tho

What is interesting in Cai Rang floating market?

Things you should try in Cai Rang floating market

Take “super cool” check-in photos on the bows

The trip cannot be fulfilled if you visit Cai Rang floating market without a “super cool” photo album for virtual living. Based on the experience of young people visiting Mekong delta floating market; sitting on the boat’s bow, immersing yourself in the sunshine of the dawn with pink clouds rising over the horizon, which definitely allows you to shoot no-dead-angle photos. Arriving at the market, you can make use of when the boat is weaving through the big and small goods ships packed with colorful fruits to take as many photos as you want. This scene will positively help you produce the most unique and flawless pictures.

Check-in Cai Rang, Can Tho, Vietnam

Talking to vendors

If you have an opportunity to visit the Vietnam floating market, do not hesitate to start a conversation with sellers here. They will tell and confide to you some true stories about the daily life of the Western locals. Would not it be wonderful to learn the culture of new land from the indigenous residents? You will see how hospitable the people of the region of the rivers are. Although there are still many hardships, smiles always appear on their face. No one knows whether, thanks to those conversations; you will have more belief in your own life.

Talking to the traders in the floating market

Listening to the presentation on Cai Rang floating market given by tour guides

Cai Rang Floating Market is one of the three largest Mekong delta floating markets in Vietnam, and it also has channels considered as the top of the most beautiful channels in Asia. The floating market itself bears the peculiar history and culture to the Western Region and even Vietnam. The presentation on the origin, the story why it was named “Cai Rang”, as well as extraordinary legends on the river, all of which will be told by the professional tour guides.
Do not be shy to ask things you have yet to know, feel free to ask strange things. The tour guides will always have great knowledge to bring you the uniqueness of the Western river culture. This is one of the must-do things at Cai Rang floating market.

Enjoy the best Can Tho tour with Mekong Smile Tour

What to eat at Cai Rang floating market?

Trying hu tieu (vermicelli), and bun rieu cua (crab paste vermicelli soup) on the boat

The flavor of the vermicelli soup is the blend of fried garlic, green onions, amazing seasonings, and the sweetness of stewed bones. Blended with the special taste of the soup are bean sprouts, vegetables, coriander, and meat. Looking at a steaming bowl of vermicelli soup will make you unable to stop your hunger. The feeling of bringing each stick of noodle into the mouth on the tottering boat will raise your excitement.

Enjoy yummy noodle soup in a local way

Drinking coffee at the “floating café”

Nel drip coffee at Cai Rang floating market will give tourists exceptional taste. Nel drip coffee can be regarded as a unique, long-lasting culinary culture of Vietnamese people. Sipping a cup of coffee and watch the scene of this floating market transforming into the hustling pace, with so many emotions which are hard to describe.
Cups of coffee are quite affordable with around 10,000đ/ cup. However, you can bring your own bottle to protect the environment as people here use disposable plastic cups.

Floating coffee shop in Can Tho

Eating pineapples on locals’ boat

Pineapple is a well-known fruit of the Western Region. Sitting on the boat of the vendors and enjoying each slide of the pineapple. The sour-sweet taste combining with a little chili salt will undoubtedly give you a great feeling. Pineapples in Cai Rang floating market are especially fresh. People cut these pineapples into the shape of a flower so that tourists can hold the core of the pineapples and eat slowly, which is fascinating.
Particularly, you can see the view of Cai Rang floating market from above by climbing on the prow, a stunning view which you cannot completely enjoy on a small boat.

Enjoy fresh local pineapple

Traveling Cai Rang floating market and things you do not know

The unique and major feature of Cai Rang floating market is selling fruits and specialties of the Mekong Delta. Normally, 4 out of 5 boats entering the market carry foreign tourists. They feel interested in the river scenery and as-sweet-as-sugarcane advertising voice of Tay Do women. Nowadays, because of the increasing needs of the marketers, there are not only fruit boats, agricultural produce but also various types of service including vermicelli soup, coffee, floating pubs, …

Secrets in the floating market

The market sells all items varying from agricultural products to electrical appliances. Trading culture on the Vietnam floating market is also an emblematic feature shaping the liberal and cheerful characteristics of locals in the Southwestern river region.
The floating market not only conserves the cultural beauty of the river area, but it also serves as an attractive tourist destination which both domestic and international tourists would love to explore and experience.

Secrets about Cai Rang floating market

The highlight of this floating market is that in order to offer goods to customers, boat owners often hang fruits and vegetables on a very tall bamboo stick (known as “treo beo”) erected near the prow. It was impossible for vendors to cry out about their goods due to the vast space accompanied by the sound of engines and waves crashing.

Unique trading method in the Mekong river

The unique water-way trading method

  • “Hang what is sold”: hanging what the boat owners sell on a 3-5m-long bamboo stick known as the “cay beo”.
  • “Hang without selling”: Only families using boats as their house hang on children and adults’ clothes
  • “Not hang but sell”: The small boats weaving in and out to serve items for visitors such as coffee, bun, hu tieu, …
  • “Hang one but sell another”: Hanging a leaf roof can be interpreted that the owners want to sell their boats or canoes.

 Floating life on the boat

Coming to Cai Rang floating market, it is not too difficult for you to see the vendors with their hair turning grey. They always want to adhere to this market for the rest of their lives because they love all the faces of their fellow-traders early market days, and if they took a day off, they would miss the sound of busy boats and feel sorrowful.

Floating life in Can Tho

People’s lives here are sometimes fast, sometimes slow, following the beat of the waves crashing. Continuing this way, the floating market has become multi-colored with poles of goods and the warmness of simple locals. Such a difficult life but rich in gratitude and affection has formed and preserved the floating market over the years.

Why is it called Cai Rang floating market?

The legend told that the name “Cai Rang” originated from the story in the early time as a huge crocodile drifted in this land with its teeth plugged into the river’s bank. However, in a book regarding language in the South of Vietnam (known as “Tu vi tieng noi mien Nam” in Vietnamese) of Vuong Hong Sen stated: the name Cai Rang was derived from the Khmer word “Karan” which means “ca rang” (the kitchen god). Khmer people in Xa Ton (Tri Ton) made a lot of Karan to sell everywhere. Over time, people have pronounced Karan into “Cai Rang ”.

the name of the floating market in Mekong

What tourists said about the Mekong floating market

The celebrated Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay was captivated by the taste of hu tieu (Vietnamese vermicelli soup) of Cai Rang floating market:
“It is so interesting, so delicious and this is the first time I have ever tasted such flavor”, said Gordon Ramsay.

  • Comments of an Australian tourist:
    “The price at Can Tho floating market is not strict, the boat owners make concessions to each other in the style of smooth buying and selling, no bargains, no noisy arguments. This will definitely be the most unforgettable image in my life whenever I mention Vietnam. ”

Happy tourists in Can Tho

  • Comments of a Hanoi tourist:
    “I woke up very early to catch the sunrise on Cai Rang floating market. It was a beautiful scenario with pink clouds gradually appearing over the horizon, and the saleswomen’s crying loudly to start the early market. I chose a small boat to travel in. What impressed me the most was the ferryman, who greeted me with a very gentle smile.”

Cai Rang floating market tour

Can Tho floating market is not only a place for the trading of locals in the Western provinces, but is also an attractive tourist destination for domestic and foreign travelers. The space of this floating market is always hustling with the trading scenario, which has long been a cultural feature of people in the river region.

Enjoy noodle soup onboard - Cai Rang floating market tour
Enjoy noodle soup onboard

Get in touch

  • MEKONG SMILE TRAVEL TRADING JOINT STOCK COMPANY
  • Address: 81 Chau Van Liem Street, Tan An Ward, Ninh Kieu District., Can Tho City.
  • WeChat/WhatsApp/Viber/Hotline: +84983704949.
  • Email: hello@mekongsmiletour.com.
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