One of the first things that I experienced in Asia, and one which stands out for me was visiting the Floating Markets of Can Tho. We travelled south from Ho Chi Minh, with our destination set on Can Tho. Can Tho is a large provincial town, and one of the best spots to relax and explore the floating markets of the Mekong river delta.
Unlike most places in Asia, there were not a group of touts waiting for our bus when we arrived in town, and so our main way of sourcing decent budget accommodation was gone. However, our motorcycle taxi driver knew a good place, and dropped us on a promising looking street.
We had come here for the Mekong delta. At the guest house, they wasted no time in selling the various river delta cruises that they had on offer. For only $15 USD a member of their extended family would take us out for the morning on her boat. We sealed the deal and went off the explore the town.
The first thing that struck me was how few other Westerners we saw in town. During our time there, we only saw one other couple. Considering that Can Tho is the fourth largest town in Vietnam, and the largest town in the Mekong River Delta, it was surprising that more people didn’t flock here to enjoy the floating markets. However, the lack of other Westerners gave us that sense of “really travelling” that is difficult to achieve when you see too many familiar faces.
Floating Markets of Can Tho
We rose early to meet our boat at the docks. The river was already full of traffic at this point – with large merchant boats filled to the brim with their goods for sale, and advertising their wares from large wooden poles waving in the wind. Small boats propelled by small motors zipped in and out from the larger boats, comparing the goods, and haggling with the merchants. Smaller boats yet, rowed by long wooden ores moved in the same way – albeit slower, in the crowded river.
When the market goes found something they wanted to purchase, they would board the larger boat, haggle for the products, and then return to their boats on their way to check out some of the other market “stalls”.
One of the most exciting part of being on the water and a part of the floating markets, was the great photography opportunity to take pictures of people going out what to the is a daily routine, but for what for me was a new experience.
We stayed among the markets for an hour or two, and as the water traffic began to die down, our guide took us on a relaxing journey down the Mekong river. Here we got to experience how important the river is to the daily lives of the people who live near it. Women washed clothes in the water, children played in it, and the fruit and veggies just recently purchased from the market were washed in it.
I absolutely recommend a visit to Can Tho for visitors who not only want to experience a slice of real life in Vietnam, but also for those who want to get off the beaten path, without having to venture far from the main city of Ho Chi Minh.