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Mekong Delta Floating Market Guide

Mekong Delta Floating Market Guide

By Wendy Updated Sep. 5, 2023

At dawn you can see sampans, with vegetables and fruit hanging on poles, being rowed slowly along and gathering at spots we usually call floating markets. Other boats which are basically floating restaurants, bars, and gas stations join the club. The river at sunrise is a picturesque morning hustle and bustle of southern Vietnamese life.

Nothing is more interesting than joining the crowd of buyers and sellers on the sampans, hopping between them for your first bowl of pho of the day, or snapping gorgeous pictures that will look great in your living room.


  • Snap perfect pictures of sampans on the river at dawn
  • Enjoy the sunrise at the biggest Floating Market in the Mekong Delta
  • Experience the daily hustle and bustle of the local traditional market
  • Join in the trading between the sampans
  • Have your first cup of Vietnamese coffee on the floating cafe

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The scene of local famers rowing their sampans towards a market spot at dawn is one of the most beautiful and amazing scenes you can experience in Vietnam.

You will be able to witness how the rivers in the Mekong Delta shape the economical activities of the locals. The daily hustle and bustle of floating markets offer a direct touch to the daily life of the inhabitants of the Mekong Delta.

You can start your journey at dawn, when the delta is still covered by darkness and morning mist and watch the sampans slowly gather into big market spots.

What It's Like

Floating markets are daily local markets that cater for the needs of local people. But as they offer a fantastic cultural experience, they have become a major part of Mekong Delta Trips, allowing tourists to be part of it.

The dry season between October and April might be the best time to visit, to avoid seasonal floods, and to enjoy the best weather.

Our driver will pick you up from your lodging place. Since the floating markets start at 5 am in the morning, it is advisable to stay at a nearby hotel.

The time of pick up will depend on where you stay; do not hesitate to contact us for the details.

Top Floating Markets

Here we list the top floating markets worth a visit. They are a major part of the locals' traditional economy, and offer you genuine local experiences. The markets below are located at accessible places, making it optional for you to visit and then continue your journey by exploring nearby islands.

Bear in mind that the dry season between October and April might be the best time to visit, to avoid seasonal floods and to enjoy the best weather.

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang can be reached in 30 minutes by boat from Can Tho (around 3 to 4 hours' drive from Ho Chi Minh City). It is one of the three biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta. Trading starts at 5 am and the market remains busy until around 9 am.

Most articles for sale are seasonal local crops, from watermelons to lettuce. All such products are proudly hung on a long pole, allowing people to see them from afar, like silent but effective advertisements. The traders here are mostly wholesale and resellers, but you can see smaller-scale traders as well.

Join in the hustle and bustle, hop inside the floating café or sit on the deck beside it, for your first dose of caffeine of the day, while enjoying the unique scene.

Cai Be Floating Market

An hour by boat from Vinh Long takes you to the small town of Cai Be, the location of one of the biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta. The market has its own peculiar charm, with an old French church in the background and a special angle on the serene sunrise over the Tien River.

Trading starts early, at 5 am. The market is smaller than Cai Rang in scale and less crowded, mostly for locals, but with some wholesalers selling fruit and vegetables. You can reach Cai Be by first lodging at Can Tho, or by combining it with a day trip to Vinh Long.

Your safety and satisfaction are very important to us, so we cooperate only with experienced, knowledgeable and friendly local guides, and visit only places prearranged on the itinerary. There are no surprise stops at random shops in between.

Tips for a Floating Market Visit

Floating markets are simple and traditional daily trading centers for locals, but may seem overwhelming to tourists, as they hop between sampans, either for fresh coconut water or simply just to know how the locals buy and sell.

So visiting a floating market requires some planning, especially regarding what to pack.

Get Up Early

You will have to stay at the Mekong Delta and get up early if you don't want to miss the scenes of local vendors hand-rowing their boats with long bamboo sticks and slowly reaching the floating market site; or being able to compare the river before and after floating market.

Set the alarm or ask at the front desk of the hotel for a morning call, and make sure you're ready by 4 or 5 am.

Get a Legitimate Tour Guide

If you walk around alone or with only your traveling companions, you may well be approached by illegitimate roaming guides.

Please bear in mind that it's safer to have an experienced, legitimate local guide who will bring you safely to places you want to go, without unexpected stops at shops and factories or any places you prefer not to visit.

Pack Light

You will thank yourself for not bringing too much stuff in your bag when you visit a floating market; a small backpack with sunblock, a hat, sunglasses, a bottle of water, your camera and other valuables, should be enough.

If you check out of your hotel, your luggage will be placed safely in our private car, and the car will wait for you around the floating market or pick-up site.

Food and Drink

Surprises are sometimes nice but food allergy surprises are not enjoyable. If you just started your Vietnam trip, be careful and always bear in mind your food allergy, if you have one. The best way to prevent problems is to be cautious with the food you try, and only drink bottled water.

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