The list below refers to the 7 best floating markets in Vietnam in terms of location, opening hours and characteristics. There is a fact that these floating markets are both located in the Mekong Delta - land of rivers & canals in Vietnam. On the colorful journey to the southwest of Vietnam, visiting the floating markets in Mekong Delta is the must-do to immerse in local culture and shopping.
Buying and selling fruit on a floating market - Source: Shutterstock
I - Top 7 best floating markets in Vietnam
1 - Cai Rang Floating Market
Cai Rang Floating Market in early morning - Source: Behance
Formed in the early 20th century, Cai Rang Floating Market is the busiest and most bustling market among floating markets in the Mekong Delta and recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016.
The market is filled with hundreds of boats loaded full of goods: fruits, food, and local products. The attractive thing when visiting this Vietnamese floating market is the smoky boats where the chefs cook right on the boats to serve dinners. A busy and vibrant atmosphere is the most exciting thing to experience. The best time to come here is from 5am to 7am.
Gordon Ramsay Chef at Cai Rang floating market - Source: Internet
- Location: On Can Tho River, Tan An ward, Ninh Kieu district, Can Tho province - about 169 km from Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening time: 4:30am - 9am
2 - Cai Be Floating Market - top floating markets in Vietnam
This market is a transfer station for fruits and agricultural products in Tien Giang province. The locals find it easy to buy and sell goods thanks to the “sign from the boat” by hanging typical things on the pole to show what they sell to consumers.
At dawn and dusk, the brilliant reddish-orange color stretches across the river surface creating an mesmerising scene. Enjoying local dishes & exploring the bustling trading activities are the top things to do and to enhance your travel experience.
Trading activities on Cai Be floating market - Source: Rubicontours
- Location: Tan Phong isle, Cai Be district, Tien Giang province - about 105km from Ho Chi Minh City.
- Opening time: 3am - 10pm
3 - Phong Dien Floating Market
This Vietnamese floating market covers a large area and still retains the rustic river beauty of a watery countryside. The market is woken up by hundreds of boats from early morning. The colors & sounds create a buzzing and energetic atmosphere, making your experience even more lively. Exploring the plenty of local products & specialties and enjoying the food are great experiences here. Morning time from 5am to 8am is the most ideal time to visit.
- Location: Nhon Loc hamlet, Nhon Ai commune, Phong Dien district, Can Tho province - 181 km from Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening time: 3am - 4pm
4 - Nga Bay Floating Market - the best floating market in Vietnam
Located at the intersection of 7 rivers, this floating market is the main trading place of people in Hau Giang province. It is full of boats and people coming to exchange goods, grab some good food and tourists come to sightsee and experience the local vibe. There are countless things to see and pick-up such as tropical fruits, agricultural products and consumer goods. Along the river banks, you can see lots of craft villages such as making boats or weaving fish nets.
- Location: Le Hong Phong Street, Nga Bay ward, Nga Bay town, Hau Giang province - 193 km from Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening time: 5am - 8pm
5 - Nga Nam Floating Market - the oldest floating market in Vietnam
Nga Nam Floating Market from above - Source: VnExpress
Formed from the intersection of 5 canals, Nga Nam Floating Market is one of the most popular markets in the Mekong Delta area which welcomes thousands of tourists. Trading activities take place in the early morning - the best time to visit is from 5am - 6am. People, goods and nature blend into each other to create a vivid and joyful realistic picture.
- Location: Ward 1, Nga Nam district, Soc Trang province - 225 km from Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening time: 3am - 8pm
6 - Long Xuyen Floating market
Long Xuyen Floating Market is one of the best floating markets in Vietnam. It is a rare tourist destination that retains the pristine and idyllic features of the river region. The popular agricultural products such as tropical fruits, vegetables, food and local specialties are full of the boats.
- Location: Ngo Thoi Nham street, My Phuoc ward, Long Xuyen city, An Giang province - 191 km from Ho Chi Minh city
- Opening time: 5am - 8am
Tra On Floating Market in Vietnam - Source: Jinsuma
7 - Tra On Floating Market
Tra On is a floating market that still retains many of the cultural and commercial beauty of the Mekong river delta with a history of more than a century. Formed on the Hau river, the tea floating market is held on a stretch of more than 300m, always busy with boats trading and exchanging goods in the early morning.
- Location: near 44 Trung Trac street, Luc Si Thanh commune, Tra On district, Vinh Long province - 167km from Ho Chi Minh City
- Opening time: 5am - 6pm
II - Things you may not know about the floating markets in Vietnam
1 - How to know which items are on sale?
There are very few billboards on the boats. Apart from coming and seeing things on boats, you can also recognize the things on sale from afar thanks to the items hanging on the pole. However, there are some exceptions:
- The items are hung but not for sale: They are clothes. The boat owners often live on the boat, so their clothes are also dried on the boat.
- One item is hung but another is sold: It is coconut leaves. In Vietnamese floating markets, when the boat owner hangs coconut leaves on the pole, it means he wants to sell his boat.
- The items are sold without being hung: These are the types of dishes and drinks., because of their nature, these cannot be hung.
You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the market. A ticket ranges from 30,000 - 50,000 VND/person ($1.3 - 2.2). The boat often departs when there are enough people. If you do not want to wait for enough people, you can rent that boat and the price, of course, is much higher (about 300,000 VND/boat ~ $13 or more).
2 - Why are floating markets in Vietnam mainly located in the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam is formed by a huge amount of alluvium from the interlaced system of rivers and canals. The rivers & canals, undoublety are the factors that create the cultural identity and lifestyle of the people here. The daily life activities are mostly associated with waterways and boats. To make use of the rivers & canals, the Vietnam floating markets are formed and developed into the most intriguing trading places that boast the unique cultural values. Famous floating markets such as Cai Rang or Cai Be floating market have a history of over 100 years. These markets are the places to exchange goods and are considered as a symbol of the culture and lifestyle of people in the southern river region of Vietnam.
Floating markets are one of Vietnam's special intangible cultural heritages. Visiting the floating markets in Vietnam, you have the opportunity to immerse in the bustling shopping atmosphere, explore the unique lifestyles and enjoy the incredible tasty dishes on the boats.