Cai Rang Floating Market - from the unique name to the typical culture of the floodplain
Traveling to Can Tho without visiting Cai Rang floating market is such a pity. This special market has been a famous "specialty" of the floodplain that excites many tourists.
The interesting origin of the name "Cai Rang"
Cai Rang is one of the six largest floating markets in Southwest Vietnam, which specialise in exchanging, buying and selling agricultural products, food and fruits right on boats floating on the river. This special feature has made it unique as compared to the traditional markets.
The bustling Cai Rang floating market. Photo: vntrip.vn
Cai Rang floating market was formed in the early years of the 20th century when the road here was underdeveloped. The market is located on the waterway of Can Tho River - Xang Xa No canal, so it is very convenient for trading activities with other provinces and especially the Mekong Delta. Up to now, although the road transport network has fully developed, floating markets still exist as a typical cultural feature of the floodplain.
Legend has it that the name “Cai Rang” (The Teeth) was derived from the time this land was reclaimed. At that time, a large crocodile came here and its teeth stuck in this land, leading to the current name. Another explanation in the book, "The Voice of the South" by the author Vuong Hong Sen, indicates that: the name “Cai Rang'' originated from the Khmer word "karan", which means “stove”. In the past, the people living in Xa Ton pagoda (Tri Ton district) specialized in making clay pots and "karan". They brought a huge number of those products on large boats to sell in the Cai Rang floating market today. Over time, people have mispronounced the word “karan” as “Cai Rang”.
The typical features of Cai Rang floating market
Cai Rang floating market seen from above. Photo: thamhiemmekong
The floating market is busy from 5am to 8am. Photo: thamhiemmekong
When visiting Cai Rang floating market, you can see a number of boats full of goods floating on the river together with offers from the sellers. The market has more than 300 boats every day, each of which sells different items. The seller will hang their product on a pole called “Beo” (in the local dialect, “Beo” means “displaying products for the customers”) to attract the customers. Normally, the sellers will hang their items on this kind of pole, as mentioned before, but you should notice that when clothes of the households living on boats are hung on it, they are not for sale. Sometimes, you will see boats with an empty pole, but it is the signal of “restaurants” selling dishes like noodle soup or cafes. When coconut leaves are hung on the pole, it means that the boat or canoe is for sale.
Almost every boat has a pole to “advertise” their products. Photo: thamhiemmekong
A lot of items are sold at the floating market. Photo: thamhiemmekong.com
Many typical fruits of Southwest Vietnam. Photo: @haiha_0831
The seller will peel the fruits if you ask them to do so. Photo: @thanhlam9160
The items at Cai Rang floating market are diverse, ranging from fresh fruits, agricultural products, food to other essential household items, but the most prominent is still the fruits from Can Tho orchard such as coconut, pineapple, durian and rambutan. All of them are fresh yet affordable. In addition, at Cai Rang floating market, there are boats providing the scale repair service and selling petrol, clothes, cosmetics, medicines and confectionery. Notably, people will exchange goods between boats by passing them by hand or “juggling”.
People will exchange goods between boats by passing them by hand or “juggling”. Photo: wiki travel
Foreign tourists enjoy taking photos when visiting the floating market. Photo: dulichvietnam.vn
In addition to immersing yourself in the bustling atmosphere of the floating market, you can admire the "mobile homes" - which are boats of the locals with full living facilities such as television, bonsai and stove..
The boats are also the houses of the locals. Photo: vnexpress
When coming to Cai Rang floating market, you can also enjoy typical breakfast dishes of Southwest Vietnam such as noodle soups (Hu Tieu, Bun Rieu), rice noodles with grilled pork (Bun Thit Nuong), pork offal porridge (Chao Long), bread and snacks. A special feature is that you just need to sit on the boat and the sellers will come to serve you. Being on the boat floating on the river while enjoying a bowl of hot noodles in the morning dew will definitely be an unforgettable experience.
Boats with breakfast dishes at Cai Rang floating market. Photo: vietrave
The seller will bring the dish to you. Photo: thamhiemmekong.com
“Lot” cake at Cai Rang floating market. Photo: @tuyet_trinhh10398
Attractive Bun Rieu. Photo: @kimsandy98
The suitable time to go to Cai Rang floating market
The market is open from 5am to 7am. Photo: @dung_int
To visit the floating market, you need to depart quite early as it is open from 5am to 7am. During this period of time, the market is very busy when all the boats arrive here together with a large number of buyers. At around 8 o'clock, however, the market will be closed.
The ideal time to visit Cai Rang market is between August and November when the region is experiencing the floating season. In addition, during this time, the market will have many unique specialties that cannot be found anywhere else.
Guide to move to Cai Rang floating market
You can take a motorboat to visit the Cai Rang floating market. Photo: Vnexpress
From the center of Can Tho city, you have to move to Ninh Kieu wharf to take a boat to the floating market. You can buy a one-day tour to explore the floating market at a cost of about VND 300,000/person or rent a boat yourself with a price of about VND 500,000 - 800,000. If you travel alone, you can join in with other visitors with a shared ticket price of about VND 30,000/person. Notably, you can rent a motorboat to visit the floating market at a price of about VND 70,000 - 100,000/person.
Directions from Can Tho city center to Cai Rang floating market. Photo: Google Maps
You have to come here and see everything with your own eyes to better understand the idyllic and genuine life of the people in Southwest Vietnam in general and in Cai Rang floating market in particular. This will be a unique and wonderful experience that you can only have here.