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Cruising the Floating Markets of Can Tho

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My alarm went off, so I groggily fumbled for my iPhone and looked at the screen. I fought the urge to just click the snooze, I knew I’d be sleep in two seconds if i did. I managed to resist the the tempting thought and actually pulled myself up from the be. Damn, I hate getting up at 5 am, I am just not meant for getting up at this hour.

We gathered our things with my sister, packed our bags and headed downstairs. Even the receptionist was still asleep in bed next to reception. I knew this was too early. We woke him up (I am sure he appreciated it) and we checked out.

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We stored our bags to the back room, and got out of the hotel. Outside we met our tour guide, a young woman called Thao. Together we headed on to the pier through the town that already seemed to be wide awake to my horror. People were walking and driving around. Many street vendors had already set up their little shops and many more were being erected. People were having breakfast and ingredients for lunch were being bought. It’s only half past six people, you should be in bed!

Oh well, when in Rome and all that. We found our little boat by the river and settled in with the breakfast we had just purchased from the pier. Very basic, just some sweet Vietnamese coffee, bread and bananas. It all tasted excellent in the cool fresh morning air. I do have to admit, it does make sense to get up early here, it is so much cooler than it would be in a few hours once the sun was up.

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Our driver (what do you call the driver of a small boat? captain seems somehow a bit excessive) started our engine and off we went. Our little boat adding to the general traffic of the river. The rivers here really are the lifeline.

After an hour or so, we reached the first floating market, which is more like a wholesale market according to our guide. You have bigger boats selling fruits and other things directly from the farms. So other market sellers from other markets come here to get their wares early.

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Boats have a big stick with a fruit tied to it, as an advertisement of what they are selling. The market itself is long stretch of boats along the river, with dozens and dozens of smaller boats darting around the bigger ones, finding what they want and then loading up the cargo. Besides the obvious fruit and vegetable boats, we also spotted a baguette boats, noodle boats and a soft drinks boats.

On route to the next market, we made a stop at a noodle factory slightly further away from the main river. Factory might be a bit too strong of a word here. It was more a hut, where they were grinding up the rice and turning it into rice paper (the kind you eat) and noodles. So this is how they make all that wrapping for those fresh spring rolls I really like.

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Few hours later we arrived at the other market. This one was smaller, consisting mostly of small boats, all huddled together. So boats were constantly hitting each other and grinding against each other as they slided around doing business. People were buying various things, mostly fruits, vegetables and such, but there was also one boat that almost seemed like a general store.

We bought ourself a pineapple which our boat driver then peeled, as she was slightly more used to peeling whole pineapples that I am. And I do have to say, it probably was one of the best pineapples I have ever eaten. So fresh!

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We took the long road (river) back home by using the small canals instead of the big river. And the views there are, well, lets just say it looks like proper Vietnam. The lush green jungle surrounding the narrow river completely, with the exception of the few rice fields or villages we slided thru.

We were walking next to river to stretch our legs, when it suddenly started chucking it down, this being rainy season and all. So we dived for cover at a small restaurant and decided to have early lunch while waiting for the rain to ease a bit. Which it did.

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Still, it rained more on the way back, but we pulled up the roof of the boat and had a plastic cover, so we managed to stay dry and it actually created a nice atmosphere. Just watching the rainy river and jungle.

Definitely one of the best tours I have done on this trip, thanks to our guide. Thanks Thao.

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7 Comments

  1. Hi there! Do you mind me asking how you booked the tour (when you arrived in Can Tho or prior)? What you did sounds quite similar what I want to do – make our own way to Can Tho and do a full day tour the following day – several markets in the morning, noodle making factory etc. Most of the tours on the internet require you to spend a night on the boat, or leave from Siagon in the morning, which means you get to the markets when they are shut!
    Jen recently posted..Planning…My Profile

    • Hi Jen, we booked the tour in Can Tho. We met this woman who was selling the tours, but you can also book it thru any of the hotels there. You shouldn’t have any problems booking the tour there.

      I think the best way is to make your own way to Can Tho (pretty easy with the buses), and then booking the tour there, it was quite cheap (can’t remember the price). Just leave very early for the tour, so you’ll get there while the markets are still open!

      I can put you in touch with the girl who we did the tour with if you want (she didn’t sell us the tour, but she was our tour guide), she was really nice.

  2. Hi that would be really helpful actually if you could put me in touch with the girl you did the tour with. Make sure we have a positive experience with a good tour! Yeah we will make our own way there with buses – and make sure we get to the markets early! No point arriving after the markets have all finished up!
    Jen recently posted..Planning…My Profile

    • Hi Jen, I’ve emailed you her email. Hope it helps. And yeah, you do want the 5am start (although I know it is too early!)

  3. Hi! Thank you for posting this information online. It helps me a lot to plan for our trip to Vietnam on November of this year. My only problem is our lack of time because we only have 2 days to stay in Vietnam. We will arrive a little past 1am in the morning to the airport and would like to go directly to Can Tho. Do you know if there’s a trip at 2am in the morning to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh City?

    And would also like to ask about the contact email of your guide. And how much is the tour? I would appreicate any help and thank you very much in advance. 😀

    LAR

    • There are a lot of buses going to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh, but not sure if there is one at that time, because most of the buses run during the day time as it isn’t that far. Can’t remember how much the tour cost, but it wasn’t too much. The tour guide we did it with, doesn’t do the tours any more, but I can send her email to you if you want.

      • Hi there,

        Thank you very much for your reply. If it’s not too much, kindly send the email of your tour guide please.

        Thanks for all the advises and hope to hear from you soon.

        Best regards,
        LAR