How to Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market: Mekong River Delta

Wondering how to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market as well as get some secret tips for visiting? My page is all about hidden gems and after scouring the internet, I found little info on how to visit this market. I hope my guide will help you better plan a visit to the Mekong River Delta in beautiful Vietnam! I will also be sharing my honest opinions if you’re wondering if it’s worth visiting the Cai Rang Floating Market. You will find it at the bottom of this post so be sure to read to the end.

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Best Time to Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market

The best time to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market is in the early morning, typically from around 5 am to 8 am. During these hours, the market is bustling with activity as local vendors gather to sell their goods from boats on the river.

Visiting early in the morning allows you to experience the market at its liveliest, with boats laden with fresh produce, local specialties, and goods of all kinds. Additionally, the weather is generally cooler in the morning, which can make exploring the market more comfortable.

It’s worth noting that the Cai Rang Floating Market operates every day of the week, but it tends to be busiest on weekends and during the harvest season (typically from October to December). However, regardless of the time of year, visiting early in the morning ensures that you witness the market while it’s most authentic.

How to Get to Cai Rang Floating Market

From Ho Chi Minh City

If you come from the Ho Chi Minh City Airport, you can take a private taxi which costs around 2 million VND ($80 USD). The more affordable option would be going to the main bus station and taking a shared limousine. This will cost about $10 USD and tickets can be purchased here. The drive takes around 3 hours.

There is also an airport in Can Tho. Just note, that there are not always nonstop daily flights to Can Tho depending on where you’re flying from and the date of travel.

From Can Tho

The closest airport to the Cai Rang Floating Market is the Can Tho International Airport. From. there, you can take an easy Grab (similar to Uber) or taxi to the pier where you can take a boat and visit the market.

Cai Rang Floating Market Tour

I’d really advise you to visit the market on a tour. That way you could really experience everything properly. And see how the local life is on the Mekong River Delta.

I stayed overnight in Can Tho and took a private tour with Mekong Lily. You won’t find this tour anywhere online – I found it through a FB group which I’d recommend joining for Vietnam tips. It was really the way to go because I avoided huge tourist groups. They pack those boats with a lot of people! I felt more relaxed on the private tour. Plus, the private tour allowed you to see more local gems versus the mainstream tourist spots.

You can contact Lily via Whatsapp here to book and let her know Jackie from Jou Jou Travels sent you! The cost for my tour was around 1.6m VND but she has a few different options to choose from.

If you do a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, you have to leave really early and you might miss the best of the market which is in the early hours after sunrise.

Here are some good tour options from Ho Chi Minh City:

Where to Stay in Can Tho

Like I mentioned, it’s better if you can stay overnight in Can Tho and visit the market. Here are a few hotel options with easy access to the market.

Mid Night

I stayed at Mid Night for only $15 a night. The room was large with a river view from the window. It was a bit out of the center of Can Tho but I didn’t mind since my guide picked me up for the market and I didn’t have much else planned. The staff are kind but do not speak English.

Mekong Silt Ecologde

I was also recommended this hotel by my tour guide and it looks rather cool!

How to Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market without a Tour

It’s possible to visit on your own without a tour and there’s not much info online for how to do that. You might miss out on some of the information and history though.

If that’s what you’d like to do you can do so by navigating to one of the piers I’ve linked below and hiring a boat driver for a couple hours. Or, you can take a scooter or taxi directly to the market but it’s better to take a boat as you can experience buying from the locals from the boat!

Pier 1: Location to Cai Rang Floating Market

This pier is a bit further out and will take you around 40 minutes to get to the market. For the few hours the boat will take you around, it should cost between 350k-400k Make sure you negotiate the price ahead and price will depend on the duration of the tour and the size of the boat.

The main pier is listed below:

Ninh Kieu Pier / Bến Ninh Kiều – Google Maps Location

Pier 2: Location to Cai Rang Floating Market

This pier was where I took off from with my guide and there were no tourists around here when we left at 5:30am.

Bến phà Xóm Chài – Google Maps Location

You can instruct the boat driver to take you to the places I’ve listed under the best things to do on the Mekong River Delta. However, they likely won’t know good English. Google Translate may be your friend here.

Best Things to do: Mekong River Delta

1. Watch how local life is at the Floating Market

The floating market is what you came for! This is where you’ll witness locals selling fruit and other produce even groceries, iced lattes, and breakfast soup! Some are for wholesale trades and some for tourists. You can learn from your guide how people straight up live on these boats and have little need to visit land which was pretty cool.

2. Enjoy breakfast on the boat

There are a few boats selling breakfast. The way it works is. you dock up next to the boat and order what you want. You sit on your boat, enjoying the meal next to the provider. When done, you can hand them your empty soup bowl! I visited Mrs. 7 for some amazing soup. Gordon Ramsey ate here too! She’s usually docked in the same spot daily and leaves by about 10am.

3. Learn how Noodles are Made

My tour took me to a small local shop called Chin Cua to learn how noodles like the ones we had for breakfast were made. I even got to pull off the noodle from a pan and place it on a drying rack then shred them in the shredder.

Plus, on the way to the noodle shop, we saw the most picturesque part of the river full of greenery all around.

5. Visit the Land Market

The land market is just above the floating market and was actually one of my favorite parts of the tour. I got to see some real authentic locals selling everything from fruit, crazy looking snakes, accessories, and more. It was also super photogenic if you’re into photography. We bought fruit from the locals and I even got a salt ice coffee (my fav!)

6. Visit the Temple within the Land Market

This pretty temple was located within the land market of Cai Rang.

Is the Cai Rang Floating Market Worth It?

The Cai Rang Floating Market was named a cultural site and the UK’s Rough Guide has voted it to be the most impressive market in the world.

But is it really worth it?

It really depends on your experience and what you’re into and expecting! I know that I really wanted to visit after seeing the very cool drone photos on Instagram of all the boats next to one another and locals trading food. I even saw a cool photo of these beautiful water lilies being transported around by local women. For the water lilies, it happens in November, I believe so that wasn’t something I was able to see during my March visit. And I have little information on how to actually see that.

As for all the boats trading fruit and other goods, I did see a bit of that but it wasn’t what I expected. I think if I didn’t have my drone, I wouldn’t really see much of that as the boats are big and you don’t have a huge amount of visibility into seeing what was going on.

There are also much fewer boats around than in the past! I believe 40 boats were there and the rest were tourists.

To be honest, during the first 5 minutes of arriving to the floating market, I felt disappointed and underwhelmed by it all. Then, I flew my drone and could see a bit more of what was going on.

I also warmed up to the experience after eating breakfast on the boat and learning about how the locals live their lives on the water. So many actually live on these boats and docked water homes.

You can buy anything from fruit to iced lattes to groceries and never have to get on the land. I also had the chance to visit the land market which I mentioned. This was a very cool and authentic experience and few tours stop by. I didn’t really see any tourists around here.

There was also TONS of garbage along the river and the color of the water really disgusted me. You can really see how polluted it is and I didn’t expect to see so much trash floating around on the water.

The boat ride from breakfast to the noodle shop was cleaner and more picturesque with more greenery around. In the end, I was happy I went.

I think if you did one of the bigger tour groups it would not be worth it as the authenticity would not be there. You’ll much rather enjoy a small or private tour if you’re led on the non-touristy path. And stay overnight so you can get there early!

Hopefully, this post helps you better plan a trip along the Mekong Delta River and you can decide if visiting is right for you!

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