The Floating Markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area and can be quite freely visited on board smaller boats. Tourists may take a tour from the Ninh Kieu pier, where the “boat ladies” are charmingly eager to welcome you aboard.
Cai Rang Floating market
Cai Rang Floating Market is about 6km from Can Tho City and is one of the three biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta. The shops and stalls at these markets are boats of different sizes. Cai Rang Floating market is opened all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 5.30AM. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung. During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes. Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, soft drinks and wine go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors. Sellers tie their goods to a tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling. Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners.
Phong Dien Floating market
Phong Dien Floating market is about 20 kilometers southwest of Can Tho, the best floating market in the Mekong Delta. Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit. Large floating markets are not complete without its floating restaurants, floating gas stations and an occasional tour boat filled with tourists. Perhaps the best floating market in the Mekong Delta, Phong Dien has fewer motorized craft and more stand-up rowing boats. It is less crowded than Cai Rang and there are far fewer tourists. The market is at its bustling best between 6.00AM and 8.00AM. It is theoretically possible to do a whirl- wind boat trip here, visiting the small canals on the way and finishing back at the Cai Rang floating market. This journey should take approximately five hours return from Can Tho.