Mekong river delta sits in a village in Southern Vietnam called Can Tho. Can Tho is not a touristy place besides for the Mekong Delta floating market that is the thing attracting tourists here. But most of them come on day tours from Ho Chi Minh. Usually, tours last 1 or 2 days. Everything is sorted out in Ho Chi Minh and you don’t need to care about anything else.
From Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho
But, I don’t like tours, even if sometimes they are the best option to visit a place. For that reason, I decided to go to Can Tho on my own on a bus from Ho Chi Minh. The bus journey is not that long, but you still can go on a sleeper bus. That’s what I did. My favorite bus company in Vietnam is Futa Bus and they only had the sleeper bus option. Perfect, cause it is a very comfy 4h ride. Just a pity they didn’t stop even once. So, the first thing I did once we arrived in Can Tho was going to the bathroom. No other tourists were on board that bus. Strangely, I didn’t have anyone bothering me to sell one way into the city center. This can already tell how touristy is this place.
I booked a Grab bike and head to my hostel. In there I could also realize that Can Tho doesn’t have many tourists. During the 4 nights, I spend there, in two of them I had a 10 bedroom dorm by myself. At the hostel, they offered some tours, but other than them, I didn’t see any tourism operator selling any type of tourist tour. Can Tho is true Vietnam.
For this reason, I had some difficulty in finding how to do things on my own, especially because I want to go to the Mekong Delta floating market but know nothing about it. There must be another way besides a tour. And there is. It is way cheaper and that’s how I visited the Mekong Delta floating market.
Mekong Delta floating market boat tour on my own
After a lot of search on the web, I decided that I will try to go on my own and so I did. This is the biggest floating market in Vietnam and it starts pretty early. At 4 am the hustle and bustle has already started and it lasts until about 10 am. If you go later than 8 am you better not even go. I went to the floating market at about 7 am and it was already very late. I saw almost nothing of it! Al least, from pictures I see on the web, the number of boats on the market when I got there had nothing to do with them. I was too lazy to wake up early and thought to myself that going a bit later would be just fine. But it is just one day, so do a favor to yourself and go for sunrise. Not that I didn’t like to visit the market, but I was kind of disappointed in not seeing a burst of life on the river. Still, there were some boats and some traders…
So, in order to go on your own, you must go to Ninh Kieu Wharf pier. I walked there from my hostel, about 15 min walk. In the area, you will see loads of people and boats. They are all Asian. I didn’t see a western face here. There are some ladies seating at tables with info boards. You should head there and ask them for a ticket. You have the option of a 1h boat ride or 3 hours. I bought the ticket for the longest one but I had no idea how would things proceed from there. As there are so many people wanting to go to the Mekong Delta floating market, I didn’t wait for a long time as the boat got full quickly.
Cho Noi Cai Rang- the market
The market is about 30 minutes away by boat from Ninh Kieu Wharf pier. No one on board seems to speak English but I suppose that they know I bought the 3h ride. When we get to the market many people step out of the boat, I didn’t understand why. I stayed. After that, the boat turns around and starts to go back. I find it odd but we could be heading somewhere else as we had been in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Mekong Delta floating market itself for a while. The boat makes another stop where some other people get back in. One of them was kind enough to ask me if I bought the 1h or 3h ride. I said 3h and that’s when I realized that I should have left the boat when those other people left. They exchanged boats to continue to another place and I stayed on the boat so I was going back to town. So, at some point, we wait for another boat and I alone switched boats. They found some way to put me back on the right boat which was cool. This is one of the problems of doing things on your own: you don’t understand what they say.
The next stop was a very beautiful place on the margin of the river in one of the river’s canals. I can’t recall the name of the place but it was very beautiful with some wooden bungalows and restaurants. The place was beautifully decorated, had many flowers and a cute lake. It was a good place to visit.
After that, we stop at another place. It looks like a giant store where they sell so many different kinds of products. People were euphorically buying everything. I bought myself some dried mango and some candies. After that stop, we headed back to Ninh Kieu Wharf pier way before lunchtime. I went back to sleep a bit more.
I don’t remember how much I paid for this boat ride, but it was at least 3 times cheaper than any tour. Not more than 100K, I can guarantee. I didn’t book a tour! If you are approached at the pier by someone trying to sell you boat trips, don’t accept and follow your way. Head to these people that are sitting at the table, they are easy to spot and are by the river. In case you listen to someone that approached you randomly you will probably end paying more. The name of the market is Cai Rang floating market or Cho Noi Cai Rang.