The characteristic of Cai Be floating market in southern Vietnam - the market meets on the surface of the river is that each boat is a stall, and goods are hung on a pole so that customers can realize from a distance. The market was formed in the period from the 17 to 18 century at the part of the river which is the intersection of 3 provinces: Ben Tre, Vinh Long, and Tien Giang.
I - Where is the Cai Be floating market located?
1 - Location of Cai Be market
Top vibrant floating markets in Vietnam - Source: phoenixvoyages
The market of Cai Be is currently located in Cai Be town, Cai Be district, Tien Giang province. It is referred to as one of the biggest source markets in Mekong Delta Vietnam, supplying and distributing agricultural products to domestic markets and adjacent locales.
2 - Traveling from Ho Chi Minh city to Cai Be floating market
The shortest distance from Ho Chi Minh city to the Cai Be market is 105km, following National Highway 1A. That’s the matter of going by personal vehicle. If you would rather have someone to take you there, you are advised to take a limousine from Saigon to Cai Be town. A suggestion you can consider is: Tri Nhan limousine (22-seater sleeper cars)
- Starting point: office in Ho Chi Minh city at 11:00 am
- Ending point: Cai Be town (NH 1A) at 1:10 pm
- Contact: 0983 447 777 - 02838 555 575 - 02835 083 838 - 02838 590 095
- Ticket price: 280,000 VND/person
II - What are there at the Cai Be floating market?
Although Cai Be Vietnam takes place on the water, the atmosphere here is no less or even more bustling than any fair on the mainland. Once you get here, you immediately get immersed in a hectic space stretching for a couple of kilometers. The sound of boat engines combined with the bargaining of the sellers and buyers are like the triggers waking up a new day.
1 - An amazing way of measuring at Cai Be floating market
Cai Be attracts thousands of foreign tourists - Source: mekongsmiletour
If you try to communicate with the local sellers with the aim to buy something, it is a sure thing that you will be in a daze with their way of measuring. It is conventional that people buy things in dozens; however, dozens at Cai Be market are not understood as the way it literally means. A dozen can be 12, 14, 16, 18, or even up to 24, depending on the kind of goods you buy. For example, a dozen coconuts, pineapples, betel nuts at Cai Be floating market is equal to 12 while that of corn and mangos is 16. Therefore, suppose you ask for a dozen of something and receive more than the quantity that you expect, don’t be so surprised, let’s take it for granted.
2 - Cai Beo - a unique method of advertising
Different from markets in the mainland, customers at the market of Cai Be can not move around from this shop to that store at ease. Therefore, traders here have come up with a tool to inform customers about what products their shops are selling. It is called Cai Beo - a bamboo with the body punched holes so that they can hang goods on. At Cai Be floating market, the bamboo is then tightened in front of or at the side of the boat so that people can easily notice where the things they need are and find a way to get there.
3 - Specialties and daily products at Cai Be Vietnam
There are dozens of specialties to try at this market - Source: chudu24
The main merchandise and also the signature of the market is fruits grown at specialized farming areas of the province such as green-flesh pomelo, Lo Ren star apple, Cai Be mandarin,... Boats filled with various types of fruits of different colors attract the eyesight of almost every visitor, especially those who step foot here for the first time. Fruits at Cai Be floating market are not only good in taste but also cheap in price because they are planted in one of the most fertile lands in Vietnam.
Besides fresh fruits, nowadays, due to the increase in the demand of folks, the Cai Be market also trades processed foods. Small bamboo boats slither between fruit “stalls” to serve customers drinks or breakfasts no matter where they are. Trying to order a bowl of noodle soup, a cup of filtered coffee, and enjoying it right on the swaying boat is a unique experience that you can hardly try anywhere else but at Cai Be floating market and several other floating markets in Vietnam.
In addition, essential products such as rice, seafood, aqua creatures, and cloth… all of which are essential for daily life can be approached here. This can explain why it is still the hub of local exchange regardless of how many shopping malls and supermarkets have been going up all over the province.
III - What are special notes before joining a Cai Be floating market day tour?
1 - The best time to get to Cai Be Vietnam
Since Cai Be is the source market, which means people from different places come here to load goods and then bring them back to sell in their area, the market meets very early every morning. Before 8am is the time the market is busiest, this is also the most ideal time to hang out here. In case you miss this period, an alternative is from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm when the severe sun in Cai Be district can’t touch you and the sunset moment on the Tien river is ready to show up.
If you can take your time, it will be best to arrive at the Cai Be floating market during the Mid-year festival (May, 5 of the lunar calendar). The reason is that it coincides with mud-bathing festivals. On this day, folks gather at this part of the river at 1pm to 4 pm when the water gradually recedes and islets are revealed to apply mud on their body.
2 - Means of transport to explore Cai Be market
There are two options: hiring a boat which is large enough for 10 to 15 people at the price of 500,000 - 800,000 VND/boat and sitting on a small wooden boat capable of holding 3 to 5 people at the price of 150,000 - 200,000 VND/boat.
Boat hiring place: Cai Be wharf - Cai Be town
3 - Cai Be floating market tour providers
Full of experiences on tour - Source: Internet
Some tours to Cai Be Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh city you can refer to are:
Vietnam Adventure Tours
- Duration: 1 day
- Contact: 028 38 229 069 - 0868 366 750
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tour price: $45/pax
- Website: vietnamadventuretour.com.vn
- Duration: 8 hours
- Contact: +49 (0) 30 22027135
- Tour price: 2,900,000 VND/pax
- Website: getyourguide.com
4 - The foundation of the Cai Be market in Tien Giang province
The Vietnamese folks explored Tien Giang land around the 17th century and 18th century. The Cai Be floating market was formed in the context that road traffic hadn’t developed. The need for goods exchange urged people to gather on rivers, using means of transport such as boats, sails,...
It was written in the book “Gia Dinh thanh thong chi” (History and description of Lower Cochinchina) that at the beginning of the 19th century, the floating market was very prosperous. Bamboo boats were densely anchored on canals, carrying rice, dried fish, dried areca and old tree trunks, and mangroves for sale in Cambodia. By the end of the 20th century, this place had become one of the biggest wholesale markets in Southern Vietnam.
Cai Be floating market Vietnam not only gives you memorable experiences but also helps you understand more about the customs and practices of the indigenous people. That’s maybe what makes Cai Be market an attractive destination in Tien Giang province.