Cai Rang Floating Market is one of the most outstanding one in Mekong Delta. The market is not just a crowsed trading area, but also a unique cultural space in Can Tho.
The origin of Cai Rang floating market
If the Northern Vietnam is characterized by colorful fairs of mountainous people, Southern Vietnam has fairs on rivers, known as floating markets. With its unique culture, floating markets are attracting domestic and international tourists in Mekong tours of shopping. Cai Rang Floating Market is the place of exchanging and trading agricultural products, fruits, goods, food as well as an eating area. It is the outstanding attraction in Can Tho.
The name of this market has been existing for a long time, but its origin has not been clear. Legendarily, when this land was being explored, there was a big crocodile coming. Its teeth were plugged into the river’s bank, thus, the land was called Cai Rang (means a tooth). In a book related to southern language, Mr. Vuong Hong Sen mentioned that Cai Rang has its origin from Khmer language – “karan” means a molded clay stove. Khmer people made a lot of “karan” and sold them everywhere in this land. Since then, local people pronounced “karan” into Cai Rang. So far, along with Cai Be Floating Market of Tien Giang Province, Cai Rang Floating Market has long been known by domestic and foreign tourists as one of two most famous floating markets in Southwestern Vietnam.
Culture of Cai Rang Floating Market – National intangible cultural heritage
Cai Rang Floating Market is located on Cai Rang River, about 6 km from the city center by road, and about 30 minutes by boat from Ninh Kieu Pier. The market was formed when road and transportation had not been developed yet. The need of exchanging agricultural products, and basic things connected local people by boats on rivers. Since then, in spite of widely developed road transportation, the floating market remains and develops more bustling.
The floating market came into being by the habits and diverse and rich garden products of people living near rivers and canals. There are many ways to exchange goods, but in Mekong River Delta people often use boats as major transport and all trading activities take place on boats. Since then, Cai Rang Floating Market in particular and floating markets in Mekong River Delta in general is formed. Interestingly, these floating markets are often organized at the junction of rivers. There, the water level of rivers is not too deep, and river surface is not too wide, which is convenient for boats to moor.
Cai Rang floating market and daily life of Can Tho people
Cai Rang Market is open from the early morning to about 8 or 9 am. Tourists often visit this market at about 7 or 8 am which is seen as the best time to drop by here, as this is the most exciting and crowded moment of the market. This market does not open in lunar festive days as the first and second days of the first lunar month, Doan Ngo Festival (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month). Due to the need of marketers, products in this market are various from boats of fruits, agricultural products, to many other types of items and food: Pho, Hu tieu, coffee and small floating restaurants, etc. The boats are usually small ones, creep on the river to serve tourists going shopping and sightseeing. The main and unique feature of Cai Rang Floating Market is the place of selling fruits and specialties of Mekong Delta River. Previously, floating markets were formed due to roads and vehicles on road had not been developed yet, while the need of trading and exchanging goods was high, people had to gather on rivers by boats to do business. Now, in spite of widely developed road transportation, floating markets exist and become more and more bustling.
Cai Rang Floating Market is specialized as a wholesale market of fruits, agricultural products of the region. Goods here are concentrated in a large number. Each item is classified equally in quality and size. If local people and surrounding areas often use middle-size boats, canoes to carry agricultural products to consume here, the big boats are owned by traders to deliver fruit to everywhere, even Cambodia and China. Soaking up in the bustling atmosphere of the special market, you can observe and learn life of many families with several generations living together on boats. There are boat as “mobile apartment” on the river with flower pots, animals, and full interior such as TV, DVD, stereo, … including motorcycle parked on the boat. Not only is the vehicle used to purchase and deliver, but it is also the residence of traders’ family. All daily activities take place on boats. The traders will hang their things to sell on a long pillar attached to the boat to invite customers. You will realize what they sell without asking.
Cai Rang Floating Market is one of the most fascinating attractions in Can Tho. This is a very special cultural feature in Mekong Delta, attracting many tourists, especially foreign ones. The skiffs carrying fruits to sell tourists run all their capacity. Small hands of local people give bunches of yellow bananas as if they are moving a beam of sunlight into another boat, accompanied by simple English sentences uttered by sellers, which makes many tourists surprised by the friendliness of the locals.
Cai Rang Floating Market is only a few kilometers from Can Tho City. It is quite convenient for tourists to enjoy the cultural life in Hau Giang River. This is the destination of many Mekong tours. Your Mekong Delta tours will not be complete if you miss to drop by Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho.