Wed, 19 Nov 2014. Last updated Fri, 19 Oct 2018 15:43
Floating market is a form of market appearing on main rivers. In this market, both buyers and sellers use boats and canoes for transporting. In Vietnam, floating markets are situated mostly in Southwestern region. The unique markets have existed for a long time in Mekong River Delta. In Vietnam tour packages to travel Mekong River Delta, travelers will have a chance to discover the unique river life, which is one of the most outstanding attractions in Vietnam, as well as one of the most stunning images in the country. From Tien Giang, Can Tho to Ca Mau everywhere is full of bustling life with life on river. Cai Be Floating Market in Tien Giang, Phong Dien Floating Market, Phung Hiep Floating Market in Can Tho, and Thoi Binh Floating Market in Ca Mau are among famous floating markets in Mekong River Delta. Compared with floating markets in Mekong River Delta such as Phong Dien Floating Market and Cai Be Floating Market, Thoi Binh Floating Market in Ca Mau is smaller and less bustling. Yet, each floating market has its own unique characteristics and local specialties.
The cultural, economic and social factors are fundamental backgrounds creating second-to-none features in floating markets and remaining their existence over the time. In Vietnam tours to these special markets, travelers will witness the hustle and bustle of merchants' boats exchanging and trading. Almost these boats measure weights of 2-3 tones. These boats carry agricultural products and items from rice, salt, fish sauce to household tools to other provinces throughout the country. Besides, there are smaller boats carrying home-made agricultural products trading here. From orchards in Tien Giang and Can Tho, boats of fruits move to Ca Mau to trade. To recognize which kind of goods sold on boats, customers just look at a long pole attached to the deck. The pole looks like a "billboard" in front of stores showing things to sell. This "special marketing" style makes the floating markets so exclusive and attract a great number of travelers going on Vietnam holidays to southwestern area. By looking at things hung on these poles, buyers know what kind of goods that the boat carrying and selling. Meanwhile, on boats from Ca Mau to Cai Be and Can Tho, there are products as local specialties carried.
In Vietnam travel tours to the floating areas, travelers will have chances to explore life and culture of local people. The all-year-round life on boats is not easy at all. Exchanging on boats on rivers is the only way of making their living. The sellers have to undergone many difficulties to maintain their life. Due to the lack of land for living, life of merchants is always attached to boats and rivers, which is unstable. They can dock in Phong Dien today, but tomorrow they will sail to Sa Dec or Ca Mau... To them, life is a series of arduous days and struggles for difficulties on rivers. Their life on river is always affected by rivers and natural changes. Children living on boats with their parents do not have any chance to go to school; they have to participate in earning their living. The scenery is numerous in these floating markets. Yet, spiritual life of local people on boats is so diverse and special. By dint of trading in different places and communicating with different people, merchants know how to live and treat each other right. Therefore, in spite of lacking literacy, these local merchants treat their customers in an extroverted and hospitable way. Merchants on rivers have strong belief in fortune. They believe that if the beginning is good, their trading day will go smoothly. Thus, when customers come to these Mekong River Delta attractions to buy, they are always welcomed in the warmest manners. In each morning, the sellers wish to meet a customer who will bring luck to their trading day. To seek the luck, at the beginning of the trading, sellers often give a quite high rate that buyers will bargain, which makes the trading more exciting. When sellers and buyers agree the rate which is bargained, goods will be purchased with the satisfaction of both sides.
When the sun goes down, merchants anchor their boats overnight next to each other and continue their trading journey in the next morning. Clearly, no one knows each other, but these merchants just make some greetings, and then they become friends. They dine together and talk about daily life of each other. Some from far orchards in Sa Dec and others from Ca Mau, all of them become friends in a couple of minutes, even become close friends of each other, even intimates or in-law relations. In Tet holiday, many trading boats cannot come back their hometown. On the 30th day of lunar 12th month, they cook an offering meal to invite their forefather to join the New Year and pray for the best things in the New Year. Many families on boats docking next to each other hold a Tet holiday together, which is so cozy and happy. They contribute what they have to celebrate the New Year. In spite of being far away from home, they think that everywhere is their hometown and their family. The affection of merchants with each other makes them feel more consoled.
Trading on rivers is so wanderous and full of ups and downs. The lives of merchants are more difficult today, as supermarkets spring up everywhere, the purchasing power and selling pressure of the floating markets have dropped. However, the floating markets in Mekong River Delta still exist in spite of the increasing modernization. Only when the rivers dry up, then the floating markets no longer exist. That is the local people's philosophy of life.