Where is Cai Rang Floating Market?
You’ll find Cai Rang on the outskirts of Can Tho, the fourth largest city in Vietnam and the unofficial capital of the Mekong Delta. The ‘high-rise’ buildings here don’t stretch too high above the ground, but the city is still a central hub for business throughout the Mekong.
Despite its relative commercial credentials, the nature that surrounds Can Tho is some of the best in southern Vietnam. Most notably, the wide strip of water that separates the city from its south-eastern district of Cai Rang is the Can Tho River, the location of Cai Rang floating market.
Access to the river is made through any of the charmingly ramshackle docks that line the banks. Private boat tours of Cai Rang Market
can access or exit the river market through any of the Can Tho River’s smaller run-off canals.
When to Visit Cai Rang Floating Market?
The locals keep some pretty strict hours when it comes to Cai Rang. The floating market doesn’t last all day, and most vendors (and tourists) are fed up with the climbing heat by about 10am. This means that the best time to see Cai Rang floating market is around 6 am – 7 am, which won’t be pleasant reading for those who like their sleep.
To ease the pain of the early rise, visitors are encouraged to head to Can Tho and stay the night there before moving on to Cai Rang in the morning. Can Tho Ecolodge offers some of the closest accommodation to Cai Rang floating market – you can read more about us here
In terms of times of the year, Cai Rang is always surprisingly inviting. The rainy season might occasionally seem ferocious in Ho Chi Minh City, but the mild Mekong Delta weather is less inclined to shed buckets. A trip during the ‘wet’ season of early May to late October is often considered the best time to visit Cai Rang floating market because of the cooler weather, but the dry season between November and late March is not far behind, as most of the Mekong’s famous fruits are in season during this time.
What to do at Cai Rang Floating Market?
Cai Rang didn’t become one of the best things to do in Can Tho from narrow appeal. Its multitude of exciting opportunities are exactly why this market is so popular and why tourists make daytrips from Ho Chi Minh City at ridiculous times in the morning to see the buzz of the Mekong.
- Shopping – This is a no brainer, really. The boats of Cai Rang floating market are packed to the brim with goods that often have no business being on small wooden boats. This can include livestock and large barrels of petrol, but mostly you’ll find fruits, clothes and bits of antique electrical equipment. Vendors will stick the merchandise they have for sale on top of a vertical pole, ensuring that tourists don’t try to buy clothes that have just been left out to dry.
- Eating – Any local will tell you that one of the main reasons to visit Can Tho is the food. Can Tho city has a distinctive culinary tradition all of its own, and Cai Rang floating market is quite possibly the best setting to feast your eyes, nose and taste buds on its offerings. The pho, hu tieu and banh mi served here captures the uniqueness of both Cai Rang and Can Tho. Renowned TV chefs Gordon Ramsey and Anthony Bourdain have both tried the local food and have been left speechless. That really tells you all you need to know about the food of Cai Rang floating market.
- Relaxing – Interestingly, Cai Rang daily manages to tread the line between total peace and utter chaos, depending on where you are located. If you’re in the thick of the action, you may find it hard to see where you can relax, but if you’re on the outskirts of the market, you’ll be able to enjoy the attractive peace and the gorgeous atmosphere created by the morning sun. Similarly, if you’re looking to eat at Cai Rang floating market, you’ll find some highly pleasant and relaxing vibes around the various bobbing food stalls.
- Taking Photos – Cai Rang is a photographer’s dream. There is so much going on at any given point that every angle provides excellent opportunities to take photos and capture some of the millions of fleeting moments that make Cai Rang one of the Mekong Delta’s top attractions. With all of the furious bargaining between locals, elderly women ladling soup into bowls, the sun glistening off the water and storks flying high above, budding or professional photographers will find enough activity to fill a few memory cards and exhaust a few batteries.
How to see Cai Rang Floating Market?
It is possible to experience Cai Rang floating market in a number of ways, ranging from solo expedition to big group tour. Most tours leave from Can Tho or Ho Chi Minh City, both of which you can get to via plane, bus, motorbike and car (and hopefully soon, train).
- Private Boat – Tourists can take a private boat onto the waters of Cai Rang, with larger boats with a roof costing slightly more. These come without a guide, so unless your Vietnamese language skills are decent, you’ll be doing a lot of pointing to direct your driver where to go.
- Solo Motorboat – Joining a motorboat tour from An Binh market is one of the cheapest ways to see Cai Rang floating market, but one that doesn’t afford you a great deal of freedom. You can rent out an entire boat for an hour and split the cost between other travellers.
- Private Tour – With the addition of a tour guide, there is a lot more about the culture of Cai Rang and the greater culture of Vietnam that you can learn about. Guides are able to take you to the best spots for buying and eating around Cai Rang floating market, as well as help you talk directly to the locals about their fascinating and unique lifestyles.
Can Tho Ecolodge runs a private tour of Cai Rang leaving right from our back door. Click here to find out more about our Cai Rang tour featuring an additional stop at a hu tieu noodle making village.