The floating markets in Can Tho, Vietnam

It’s not hard to find a tour of the floating markets in Can Tho. You will be accosted by touts as soon as you walk around the riverfront. We booked our tour through a company called 9 Dragons. The tour cost around £18 each and included two floating markets, a fruit farm, noodle factory and the waterways.

The tour started at the ungodly hour of 5.30am so we pulled ourselves out of bed at 4am and made our way down to the pier. Our guide was a lively character with an infectious laugh. They gave us a great breakfast: passion fruit juice, tea, croissants, yoghurt and banana although we didn’t eat too much as we would be spending the next seven hours on a boat.

Setting off on our tour of the waterways first thing in the morning
Our lovely guide

The sun was just coming up as we made our way down the river. Our guide made us crowns out of coconut leaves to wear, and created a little mobile with fish, crabs and birds made from the same leaves. I felt a bit of an idiot wearing the crown but it was all good fun. There were a few other tourists out and about, but I’m glad we went on one of the small boats on our own rather than one of the larger ones with a tour guide.

A locust made out of coconut leaves

I was concerned that the floating market would be a bit touristy and that we would get loads of hassle but that didn’t turn out to be the case. It was mostly a wholesale market with big barges full of produce. It was easy to identify what a boat was selling because examples of the produce available was hung from poles. Being in a small boat meant that we felt right in the heart of it and it was a lot of fun and very interesting. You probably got better views from above though.

Produce displayed on the poles

After the floating market we went to the rice noodle ‘factory’ which was really just a demonstration for tourists how rice noodles are traditionally made. Being a big fan of rice noodles, I found it very interesting. They heat the rice and mix it with water to produce a starchy paste. They then smear the paste on a flat plate a bit like a pancake and leave it to dry. They then run it through a shredder, not dissimilar to a pasta maker.

Then it was back on to the boat and on to the second market, which was smaller and less touristy. That was further out of town and it was pleasant sitting in the boat. It was so soporific that I nearly fell asleep!

After the second market, we went on a trip around the waterways which was probably the highlight of the tour. It was very scenic and you felt like you were miles away from anything (although this was probably not the case). Our guide kept pulling the boat over to the shore and pointing out things like cotton, plums, coconut, etc. At one point he got out a massive cleaver and started hacking down the coconut stalks to make more crowns. We had quite a collection by then!

Exploring the waterways
Produce sellers on the waterways

Unfortunately, our camera decided to die at this point so I don’t have any more pictures.

After the canals we went to a fruit farm. The young woman showing us around was very sweet. We were given a canoe to steer ourselves around the farm and she waved at us as we set off and said cheekily: ‘Bye bye, see you tomorrow!’. It was good fun, even though we didn’t have a clue what we were doing!

We got back to Can Tho about 11am.

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