Gay and Lesbian Travel in Vietnam

Mekong Float Markets Slice of Culture

Mekong River markets have been described as “a beautiful river painting,” and more aptly “fresh fruit and vegetable supermarkets on poles.”

The Mekong Delta is  famous for its floating markets, notably the larger and oldest ones at Phung Hiep and  Cai Be.  Tourists can visit the floating market to experience how people exchange goods. But for farmers, this way of buying and selling is an inseparable part of their daily lives. At the floating markets, you do not only find people buying and selling goods, you also find floating restaurants, bars, gas stations and myriad shops.

Phung Hiep is Largest and Busiest

The biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta is the busy market of Phung Hiep. To visit this floating market, you should stay in the Mekong Delta area to avoid missing this early morning experience.  Wake up early and take one of the motorized boats – even before you have your eye opener. Trading begins as early as 4.00 am, and by sunrise, the waterways are clogged with the sampans of marketeers and customers.  By 11am, the action ends.

On a typical day, you might see coconuts, mangoes, a heap of turtles, a box of snakes or even a pot-bellied pig being paddled from a riverside village to be haggled over. Vendors of smaller items hoist a sample of their wares on a bamboo pole. Shoppers come by land and water, and as they stumble from boat to boat, they often interrupt their shopping to enjoy bowls of noodles prepared, rather alarmingly, on open fires in special ‘fast food’ sampans.

Cai Be is Busy Wholesale Market

Cai Be, one of the many well-known floating markets in the western region of Southern Vietnam, was formed in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th Century. The floating market lies in the Tien River, adjacent to three provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. The market is divided into two parts: buying and selling places.

This market is always busy, with goods transported to the market by rafts and boats.   From 3 am, approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables and other products are anchored along the both banks of the river. The merchandise sold in each boat is hung on a pole in front of the boat to attract customers. From the floating market, goods are shifted for selling at inland markets or small boats take them for delivery along canals in the Plain of Reeds.

Traders live on the river and some link their lives with boats like their mobile house for generations. Their boats also operate like “taxis,” very convenient for tourists. Along the criss -crossing canals, people in the Plain of Reeds take not only goods of each countryside to the Cai Be Floating Market, but also their unique cultural characteristics, creating a beautiful river painting.

By Hoang Van Chuyen, Mr. Rainbow Tourism Vietnam.

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