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Floating markets and traffic on the Mekong Delta


It’s the second day of our tour of the Mekong Delta. Yesterday it rained a lot, making aspects of our sightseeing via boats, a challenge. But learning about the staple food of Vietnamese was very interesting. Today the weather… great. By 10AM, we had left Vinh Long and were at the Cai Rang Floating Marketplace (open 5AM – 11AM), one of the main markets in the Delta region.

Boat traffic. Murky waters. anarchy of boats and local merchants, selling produce was already underway…

The market looked like a congested junk heap!

Run-down river boats  stained with age, spitting out black puffs of exhaust and heaped with over-spilling produce. Some boats waved flags of drying clothes, old tires and tattered curtain fabric; many merchants trade out of the boats they live in.

Occasionally, a coned-hat longboat rower would paddle her way through the clutter to sell her wares, while others preferred cutting through the waters of time with sputtering speedboat motors. It was enough to make your eyes go gaga; everything blended to the point of overwhelm. As one traveler-photographer on our tour exclaimed,

“It’s gonna be hard to shoot any pictures here without it looking like a clutter of STUFF!”

Not saying this was bad. Just wasn’t pretty and with so much detail mashed together, it was hard to just pick out one thing.

The Cai Rang Floating Market was in full bloom and being 10 AM, it had blossomed for some time.

We jumped into a longboat for our tour…

This was our boatwoman. …my first reaction- guilt! She had to be someone’s grandmother!

Entering the congested Cai Rang Floating Market

The taro plant above is a good luck symbol of prosperity.

Different Floating Markets in Southeast Asia

Differences between the Mekong Delta’s floating markets and the Damnoen Saduak (my pics here) of Thailand are vast. The Thai floating market is  like a cute 7-11 tourist convenience shop; whereas, trade on the Delta is like going to Costco!

Boats are weighed down and produce is sold by bulk! It’s a large living, breathing and thriving local market on water.

Signs which let you know what each boat is selling?

How do buyers know which boat to go to for select produce?



Sellers tie the produce they’re selling to a wooden stick, so wares are easily visible.  We saw one boat with many types of produce hanging on its stick (picture below).

“Look, that one’s a supermarket!” a hearty Australian gent in our boat quipped.

Gotta love fellow travelers.

They certainly add entertainment to your tour.

The Supermarket

Hitting the highway again: what’s all that honking about?

Heading back to HCMC in our AC tour bus, we were all zonked.

Traffic in the south still confounds me. Motorbikes and scooters seem to outnumber automobiles on the highways.

I don’t know how these Vietnamese do it.

They can pack an entire family of four with a baby, a cargo of crates or a bureau dresser… all upon two wheels! Strap them down and hit the road for the long haul over dusty flat lands, past rice fields, rain and highway hammock cafes (cafe garages where you can grab a snack and a hammock to take a rest from your driving).

I was riding in an AC bus and I was tired, just from sightseeing!

hammock cafes along the highways – hammocks and chairs (no tables)

My friend, Veronica, crashed out

Vietnamese traffic and noise…

I’m a pretty heavy sleeper but …

But Vietnam is the first country to test my ability to sleep through anything… due to it’s highway honking.

It’s incessant honking is worse than New York City‘s  peak traffic.

Riding the bus down the highway, it’s impossible to have a quiet nap without hearing a honk every 30 seconds. Honking is the friendly signal to other motorists that you’re coming from behind and want to pass or overtake them. If your bus is following a river of motorbikes, that’s a lot of honking.

Some buses have a mellow echoing honk– deep and low, the honk resonates. Our bus had a normal honk. Shallow, sharp; requiring many toots for attention.

It’s been a long and noisy day.


  1. Gray says:

    I still think this is the coolest thing ever–selling produce by boat. What a fun experience!

  2. Laura in Cancun says:

    That market is crazy looking!

    Love the supermarket 🙂

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