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    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    Vietnam’s terrain is special in its ways of clear distinction between trench and ridge. In many regions people live in high areas in cool atmosphere, meanwhile others prefer or learn to get used to making a living right on boat along the tropical river, rowing all the day. These may be both harder than the plain but we, humans, are extremely good at conquering the nature to support our living and make it brighten in the most special way. And what people do in Mekong river delta is a real picture of stunning lifestyle invented by local inhabitants, which has delivered the soul of marketplace in a very different manner - floating market – Chợ nổi. It is a market where people sell and buy things as usual except for the fact that it stays afloat on the river.

    Well-known floating markets in Vietnam includes Cai Be (Tien Giang province), Cai Rang, Phong Dien (Can Tho city), Phung Hiep (Hau Giang province), Tra On (Vinh Long province), Long Xuyen (An Giang province).
    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    Why floating market?

    In the past, the areas adjacent to the rivers were the first to be populated. Thus most communities in the west region of Vietnam were built at the sides of rivers. You can see that until today house are built on stilt along the river, with the main roadpath heading to water where boat is waiting for. Because of special terrain covered by the river,  waterways served as means of transportation and the center of economic activity as well. Boats were mainly used for both local and regional trade, bringing goods from those that produced to those that could barter and trade. Such ways of life of the riverside communities, especially in the Tien River and Hau River increase number of floating markets.

    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    Nowadays, on arriving in the Delta, you can see many motorized boats travelling to and fro, carrying goods, fruits, other commodities for trading and even people carry their home, dog as the most popular pet to live on their own vessels.

    What to see and do here?

    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    A floating market usually starts at 4 or 5 in the morning before dawn and ends when the sun rises high at 9 or 10am. To visit the floating market, you should stay in the Mekong Delta area, wake up early and take one of the boats first hour in the morning. If you do a one day excursion, the market will be already closed by the time you get here. Trading begins as early as 4.00 am, and by sunrise, the waterways are clogged with the sampans of marketeers and customers. 

    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    Because the trading is on the river, so it must be different from other land markets. The “stall” boat on the market has no title or brand or shop sign. The seller will hang a sample of product that they sell on the head of their boat for the buyer to recognize. For example, if they sell bananas, they will hang a bunch of banana on a pole and put it on the head of their boat. The Southern people are also very friendly, hospitable. They always keep their smiles on their faces and never cheat on customers about price.

    After the market you’ll be ferried off to your breakfast break at a local orchard. You’ll be led around a fairly large garden growing a big variety of local fruits, which you’ll get to sample after your walk. Besides, you can also find garden tools, crafts, sourvenirs and Vietnamese breakfast like rice noodle “Bun” or “Hu Tieu”.  It is easily to search for boat selling breakfast just by looking for the smoke and delicious smell.

    "Floating market", one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta

    Cultural feature in the marketplace

    One of the most noticeable feature of floating market is “Cây Bẹo”, which is a small pillar put in front of every boat. What can be bought from the boat will be hung on the small pillar as a notice sign. This way of advertising on-situ is a cultural uniqueness of floating market, without making any sound nor trying to keep customers but in fact, it is very effective in attracting such gods who have no way but looking at the special pillar for the needed items.

    Boat is the main vehicles in the marketplace for not only the merchants but also the customers going to the market by sampan. In the middle of hundreds of sampans and motorized boats, hardly can we see any collision. Here people lead a simple rustic life, co-working in the same river and treating one another with sincerity from the bottom of one’s heart. That’s why people tolerate each other to lead a friendly and peaceful life together.

    Floating market is one of cultural specialties of Mekong river delta which must be well preserved and promote in the future, especially under extremely adverse weather conditions today.

    - Explore the Cai Rang floating market:

    Explore the Cai Be floating market:

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