Photo: Dingle dangle.

Introduction

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The largest city of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is also one of the most popular of Delta destinations with travellers drawn to its famed floating markets.


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Set at the confluence of the Can Tho and Hau (also known as Bassac) river, and crisscrossed by tributaries, canals and waterways feeding life into the region like veins, Can Tho has traditionally been an important mercantile and transport hub. The French sought to exploit the riches of Indochina and river commerce here became integral in connecting the Mekong Delta, Laos and Cambodia.

Meet Cai Rang floating market. Photo taken in or around Can Tho, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Meet Cai Rang floating market. Photo: Cindy Fan

Thanks to its tremendously fertile soil, Can Tho is one of the largest agricultural producers in the Mekong Delta, often referred to as Vietnam’s rice basket. You’ll see the bounty on full display at dawn at Cai Rang floating market, a wholesale market on a section of the Can Tho river. Best experienced on a private trip in a sampan, your driver will weave the wooden boat in between ships heaped with fruits and vegetables, each vessel advertising what’s for sale by hanging the product from a bamboo pole at the bow. The ship is their life—both business and family home. Smaller boats sell anything from banh mi to noodle soup to lottery tickets. There’s nothing quite like flagging down a floating cafe and enjoying a strong, sweet cup of Vietnamese coffee while watching the sale of 20 kilos of dragonfruit.

The sheer volume and variety of boats and ships will amaze and after the floating market, a trip along the narrow backwaters provides further insight into a livelihood dependent upon the river—a way of life that is evaporating. The floating markets are dying as bridges and new roadways are making river transport unnecessary and vendors are seeing fewer returns. River living ain’t easy and people are seeking jobs on land, in the cities. Visit Can Tho and floating markets like Cai Rang, Phong Dien or Phung Hiep before they ... Travelfish members only (Around 900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Can Tho.
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