The majestic winding waterways of the Mekong Delta area are not famous only for their unique culinary delights and breathtaking scenery. Shopping is another great reason to make the Mekong Delta a stop during your Vietnam vacation.
In the Mekong Delta area, markets are more prolific than malls. Exploring the tight pathways (or waterways) amongst the vendors’ goods can be as fun and exciting as shopping itself. Visiting these markets is a great way to experience local market culture and they are excellent places for trying out local food.
- Sample fresh fruit and smell tropical flowers in an exciting floating market.
- Practice the local custom of bartering and save money.
- Watch local tradesmen produce coconut candy and other delights, right in front of your eyes.
- Buy a souvenir in a bustling market to help remember your tour in future.
- Have a culinary adventure while shopping in a night market.
What to Shop for in the Mekong Delta
Unlike Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi in the north, the Mekong Delta does not boast many western-style malls or fancy boutiques. Instead, shopping in the Mekong Delta area is done mostly in a market setting, where vendors hawk their wares from carts or boats.
Once you reach one of these markets (continue reading to find out which is best for you), there are a number of specialty items to keep your eyes open for. At all of the markets you can find a wide variety of fresh produce and flowers. These types of items are nice if you want a healthy snack, but be aware that customs regulations may prevent you from bringing fruit back to your home country.
Gifts and handicrafts such as handmade textiles and carved statues are available at most markets, with the Tay Do Night Market being one of the best in terms of price and choice.
Pearls are another specialty of the region. At many markets you can find large selections of pearls in varying size, shape, and color at many markets. If you want a certificate of authenticity, then Phu Quoc Island is the best destination for pearl and jewelry shopping.
In the Mekong Delta area many markets are floating markets, where goods are bought and sold from boats. Below are the three main floating markets for travelers.
Cai Rang Floating Market
As the largest floating market in the region, Cai Rang is open from 4 to 10 am and boasts the largest selection of wholesale produce, flowers, and perishable goods. It is heavily frequented by tourists, making it a comfortable place to explore, but the market focuses on wholesaling and therefore does not offer the largest selection of handicrafts and gifts.
Located 40 minutes from Can Tho by boat, the Cai Rang market is easily accessible, and many tours will take you there. You can identify what each vendor is selling by looking to see what they have attached to the top of the pole on their boat. A bundle of bananas indicates a banana vendor and so on.
Cai Rang River|Near Cai Rang Bridge, Can Tho 900000
Cai Be Floating Market
The Cai Be floating market has become famous for its selection of flowers, and is sometimes called the flower market. Exploring Cai Be can be a colorful and fragrant experience. Go from boat to boat to see what each vendor is offering, and what flora covers the local landscape in an up-close setting.
One little-known secret is that the Cai Be floating market is also an excellent place for buying tea. The earlier in the day you go the better chance you will have at spotting the tea vendors, as more flower sales occur in the afternoon and evening when the sun is less damaging to the plants. If you like jasmine or green tea, try this market.
Cai Be, Vietnam
Flea and Night Markets
Flea and night markets occur on more stable ground than the floating markets, and tend to offer a different variety of goods to shop for.
Tay Do Night Market
The Tay Do Night Market is a good stop for a hungry shopper. Come here to experience street food culture while browsing very affordably-priced clothing and shoes. This market is large but not highly frequented by foreigners, which means prices are generally lower.
Along with its low prices, this market is a good place for interacting with locals and is one of the overall best places to shop for affordable clothing and textiles. However, the number of souvenirs available here is limited, so another market is recommended if souvenirs are your goal.
Cach Mang Thang 8 Street|CaiKhe Ward, NinhKieu District, Can Tho 900000
Can Tho Market
In contrast to Tay Do market, which focuses on cheap clothing, food, and produce, Can Tho is a one-stop shop for all things related to souvenirs, handicrafts, and gifts.
Can Tho has a staggering number of vendors selling local crafts, trinkets, gifts, and clothing, as well as food and drink. Even if shopping is not your main objective, a stroll around this market should not be missed.
44 Phan B_i Chau, Can Tho, Vietnam
Phu Quoc Island
As mentioned above, if you are shopping exclusively for pearls, make sure you head to Phu Quoc Island.
Safe Shopping Tips
While Vietnam is generally safe for travelers, review the tips below to make sure your shopping trip doesn’t end poorly.
- Lock most valuables in a hotel safe and only carry cash.
- Carry purses and backpacks in front of you and always have the strap around your shoulder.
- Be wary of groups of children or overly-attentive strangers, even if they seem helpful.
- Feel free to barter, but remember you are playing an away game, and avoid being aggressive.
- Always carry the address of your hotel in a pocket separate from your money.
- Stick to main streets and avoid areas that seem uninhabited or poorly lit.
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