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Where Rivers Meet Trade: A Day in the Life of Vietnam’s Floating Markets

Floating markets, a vibrant thread woven into the cultural tapestry of the Mekong Delta, have thrived for generations. For visitors, an early morning exploration of these bustling marketplaces offers a glimpse into the heart of the region.

Let’s explore with Lua Viet Tours to delve into the unique culture of Vietnam’s floating markets and experience the warmth of the local people.

History of Floating Markets

Born from the necessity of navigating the vast network of rivers and canals that define the Mekong Delta, floating markets are a vibrant testament to the region’s unique way of life. Since the Mekong Delta has many rivers and canals, traveling between regions requires using waterways. As a result, floating markets were established to facilitate trade and transportation for the people.


Floating markets offer a friendly welcome to all comers.

Floating markets are often held at the intersections of multiple rivers and canals. The rivers here are of moderate width and not too deep, making it convenient for merchant boats to anchor. Floating markets are a form of organizing the sale of various goods on different types of boats. Initially, they mainly sold agricultural products, but later they diversified to include a wide range of other items: consumer goods, ornamental plants, handicrafts, necessities, etc.

Floating markets in Vietnam play an important role in consuming local agricultural products, improving people’s lives, and contributing to tourism development. In recent times, floating markets have always been a popular destination for both domestic and foreign tourists.

Ideal Time to Visit

While many on-land markets boast all-day operation, floating markets typically open in the early morning, starting around 4-5 AM. You will be immersed in the bustling atmosphere with many boats selling a variety of goods on the river. All of this creates a beautiful picture as dawn begins to break.


Floating markets in the early morning are so captivating!

While watching the sunrise, you can also choose hot and delicious breakfast dishes to fill your rumbling stomach, ready to start a new day with many interesting things to come!

Unique Features of Floating Markets

“Market on the River” Culture

Each boat sells different goods. Due to the large space and less noise than on land, the boat owner will introduce their products by hanging them on a high pole. From a distance, customers can easily identify the items they need to buy and approach them.


Vendors showcase their wares on high poles for easy customer identification.

However, there are some specific products that you need to pay attention to to avoid confusion:

  • Some clothes are hung up but not for sale, they are clothes of families living on boats. 
  • Boats selling breakfast foods such as vermicelli, noodles, bread, coffee,… will not hang anything.
  • If a boat hangs a thatched roof, it means that the people are selling their boat.

The floating markets pulsate with the energy of bartering, laughter, and the shared joy of buying and selling.

Exploring Mekong Delta specialties

Indulge in the cool morning breeze and enjoy hot dishes: Vietnamese crab noodle soup (Bun Rieu), and Vietnamese fermented fish noodle soup (Bun Mam). Or if you just want a light snack, you can choose from simple dishes with a strong Southern flavor: Vietnamese donuts (Banh Cam) and sticky rice cake (Banh It).


Visitors trying local food at floating markets in the early morning

After breakfast, you must definitely sip on a cold refreshing drink! The beverage menu is also very diverse: coffee, soy milk, coconut water, and other desserts. The affordable prices make it easy for tourists to choose their favorite drink.

And of course, you can’t miss the fruit in your floating market culinary journey. The Mekong Delta is a fertile land nourished by silt, which is the reason why the fruits here are very developed. Walking around the market, there are many boats loaded with attractive fruits such as mango, durian, watermelon, pineapple, mangosteen,… Don’t forget to buy some delicious fruits here as a souvenir!

Opportunity to enjoy Vietnamese traditional music

Southern Folk Music – “Don ca tai tu”, a folk music genre recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on 5 December 2013, it reflects the colorful life in the peaceful countryside through sweet and easily remembered melodies.


Enjoy Southern Folk Music presented by local people while visiting bustling floating markets

Listening to folk melodies amidst the picturesque river scenery has made enjoying traditional music on the floating markets a truly special experience. These traditional music performances usually take place on weekends, if you are lucky you can enjoy the lively atmosphere and learn more about Vietnamese culture.

Some Notes When Visiting Floating Markets

To have a safe and complete experience of floating markets in Vietnam, please refer to the following suggestions:

  • Plan your visit! Check the weather forecast to avoid rainy days when the market might be closed.
  • Visit the market between 5 AM and 6 AM for the best experience, the market is starting to bustle at this time, the sun is just rising and not too harsh.
  • Choose comfortable and easy-to-wear clothes, and wear sneakers for easy movement on and off the boat.
  • When boarding the boat, make sure you wear a life jacket, ensuring your safety throughout the floating market tour.
  • Ask the price before buying any product.
  • After eating and drinking, please kindly dispose of your trash in the designated bins to maintain the pristine beauty of the surroundings.

These are the must-see beauties of Floating markets. If you are planning to travel to the Mekong Delta and visit the floating markets, please contact Lua Viet Tours immediately for a wonderful trip! Or click here to explore more with us.

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