For anyone unfamiliar, the floating market is a strange concept. However, visitors will understand as soon as they see the boats filled with vegetables, fruit and various consumer goods running back and forth along the river that runs through Cai Be town to make sales transactions, from early morning until late in the evening.
Tourists can hire a powerboat to sail along the river to experience exactly how buoyant and animated a floating market is. Cai Be market begins from about 5 a.m. as merchandisers purchase their goods there and then sail to other provinces. It is currently one of the biggest wholesale markets in the Mekong Delta region.
The wooden boats sell flowers and agricultural products, domestic goods and food. On the deck of one boat, we can see a family and even some dogs, pigs and chickens as the boat is their mobile home. The boats can stop to bank at land whenever and wherever their drivers like.
Tourists can also enjoy their breakfast, a hot bowl of Hu tiu My Tho (My Tho-style noodle soup) with a dark coffee, on the boats.
The special market forms on the place that meets the river flows of Vinh Long, Tien Giang and Ben Tre and gathers hundreds of boats which carry goods, especially agricultural goods from other provinces, including Vinh Long sweet potatoes and Hau Giang pumpkins. Cai Be Town, where those rivers cross, is renowned for its fruit including the terracotta colored oranges, the sweet Hoa Loc mangoes or Xa Li guavas.
Tourists need not ask what each boat sells, as products are clearly visible, allowing customers to choose the boat they would like to see.
Alongside the floating markets are houses and construction sites built close to the river or even on the banks, as people there mostly earn their living by fishing or selling products on boats. At sunset, sailing along the river to contemplate the old and new buildings casting shadows on the water will give tourists unforgettable memories.
After sailing on the river for a while, tourists can drop by a farmer’s house to take a rest, spending the day in fruit farms, tasting local cuisine and produce, and listening to old stories.
For those who have a tight schedule, visiting Cai Be floating market or the fruit farms will only take one day.