To be honest, I find the whole hullabaloo about visiting the Mekong Delta Floating Markets to be quite overblown. Yes, they’re boats on waterways used for trading and commerce. Whoopty-freaking doo.
But I dunno’, maybe I’m just being grumpy because you have to wake up at 4 in the morning to explore the Mekong Delta Floating Markets. I’m not particularly a morning person. But you’re not here to read about my sleeping habits. So imma’ cut to the chase.
There are 5 main floating markets in Mekong Delta. They’re all located, more or less, around the central city of Can Tho. As such, I would suggest you stay at a hostel in Can Tho overnight. You can explore one of the Mekong Delta floating markets in the morning.
You can also get a Mekong Delta Floating Market tour from Ho Chi Minh City.
In this article, I’ll give you a brief rundown of the 5 main floating markets in Mekong Delta. I’ll also tell you about my personal experience here, along with some recommendations on where to stay.
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The night before exploring the Mekong Delta Floating Markets, I stayed at Mekong Delta Inn. It was a pretty okay hostel located in Can Tho, the central city in the Mekong Delta region.
That night, I met some other backpackers and we decided to explore the floating markets the next day. If you’re a solo traveler, it helps to hitch your wagon along with other backpackers.
Yes, it will help you expand your horizons and meet new people and all that jazz. But it’s also practical because then ya’ll can split the cost of the sampans, i.e., the boats that will take you around the floating markets in Mekong Delta.
We woke up at 4 in the morning because the floating markets are best explored during the day. At least that’s what we were told.
A mini-bus took us all to the docks where we were loaded onto sampans. The waterways were full of sampans with tourists being transported by the local women in conical hats.
The ride itself from the dock to the floating markets must have been over 45 minutes. I know that cause during that ride I could almost finish an entire music album.
By the time we reached the floating markets, it was pretty light out. Also, we (the other backpackers and I) were all less grumpy and more awake.
We were all drifting down the Cai Rang floating market, which is one of the popular Mekong Delta floating markets. There were a bunch of houses on stilts and sampans offering pineapples and vegetables.
But that was about it. Perhaps it’s because it was quite early. Or perhaps because it’s because this particular floating market wasn’t too active. But there wasn’t much else to see or do. So we floated down some more, seeing various iterations of the same things.
My curiosity was sated pretty much 5 minutes into the whole endeavor. However, the pineapple they served us was pretty delish, gotta’ admit.
One of the interesting things here was that a lot of the sampans are turned into floating cafés. So you enter these sampans belonging to other folks, where you’re served some pho and coffee.
A part of the Mekong Delta Floating Markets tour also includes checking out the local villages. We were taken into workhouses preparing rice paper, commonly used as an edible wrap in Vietnam.
If you want a comprehensive tour, you can take up this Mekong Delta Day Trip and Cai Be Floating Market Tour. It’s a comprehensive 12 hour tour that includes a cooking class and costs $74.99.
Cai Rang is one of the most popular Mekong Delta floating markets amongst tourists. Perhaps that’s because it’s closest to Can Tho’s city center. This market largely trades in fruits and vegetables.
Cai Be Floating Market is one of the oldest markets in the region, having been functional for over 3 centuries. It also opens up earliest, at 2 AM, and closes at 8 AM. As such, it doesn’t receive quite as much tourism as Cai Rang Floating Market.
However, if you can wake up real early (or stay awake real late), and want something more “authentic”, you can check it out.
If you’d like, you can also find some accommodations in Cai Be.
Long Xuyen Floating Market is located a few kilometers off the city center of Long Xuyen. It’s considered to be one of the most important floating markets in Mekong Delta, in terms of commerce. However, it doesn’t receive much tourist love.
You can use Booking to find accommodations in Long Xuyen.
Tra On is the smallest floating market in Mekong Delta, trading in wholesale produce. It’s also quite a colorful sight because many of the boats carry flowers, plants, etc.
Chau Doc Floating Market is the closest one to the Cambodia border. It features several boats tied together to create a massive floating marketplace.
You can use Booking to find accommodations in Chau Doc.
I’m going to refrain from commenting more on these Mekong Delta floating markets because I haven’t explored all of them. If you want a detailed picture of the top 5 Mekong Delta floating markets you can read the following articles:
When you’re exploring the Mekong Delta Floating Markets, I’d recommend you find a place to crash in Can Tho. This is the central city and it gives you access to the primary floating markets in Mekong Delta.
I can’t say anything particularly lovely about this hostel beside the fact that it’s neat and cheap. They have dorms with adequately comfortable beds. They don’t have curtains so don’t expect much privacy.
However, it’s centrally located and you can easily access the main Mekong Delta floating markets from here. Furthermore, a lot of the hostels I checked out in Can Tho weren’t very hygienic. This one was pretty clean.
Furthermore, in the evening, the owner took us to a neighboring restaurant where we enjoyed a brilliant seafood meal. As such, it’s a perfectly functional and convenient backpacker hostel in Can Tho.
A bed in a dorm room for a night costs approx. ₫ 110,000 ($5 | ₹320). However, you can check out the latest rates at the Mekong Delta Inn Booking Page.
Kim Tho Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in Can Tho, and it enjoys a view of the Mekong river. The rooms come with full-length windows that look out at the city at night. The higher up your room, the better the view. They also have a coffee bar on the rooftop.
You can check out the latest prices at the Kim Tho Hotel Booking Page.
You can also find other suitable Mekong Delta hotels and accommodations using booking.com.
I hope this article has helped you figure out how to go about exploring the Mekong Delta floating markets!
And sorry about all the negativity that I’ve injected into it, just trying to be real here. Even though I personally didn’t love the floating markets in Mekong Delta, it doesn’t mean you won’t either.
You should still explore the Mekong Delta floating markets and make up your own mind about them.
That’s part of what traveling is all about, isn’t it? Figuring out what you are or aren’t into!
Feel free to comment down below with your own experiences. And if you happened to love the Mekong Delta floating markets, feel free to vehemently cuss me out!
I can be quite socially awkward occasionally. Sometimes, during these intermittent periods of social waywardness…