MEKONG DELTA CAI RANG FLOATING MARKET
Cai Rang floating market is an unmissable destination of the tours on the Mekong River. With many unique cultural values and the characteristics of Can Tho, in 2016, the Cai Rang floating market was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Located on Cai Rang River, about 6 km from the city center by road, and about 30 minutes by boat from Ninh Kieu Pier, it is one of the largest floating markets in the south-western region, serving the locals’ demands for the trade and exchange of goods. The buyers and sellers move with all kinds of means such as canoes and boats. Cai Rang floating market is not just a trade center but is also an indispensable destination of the tours on the Mekong River, helping to promote Can Tho tourism development.
Cai Rang floating market opens early, but most people come in from 7 am to 8 am. There are many kinds of goods sold from the boats, such as specialties in the south-western region, but the main product is fresh fruit. On boats, products are hung on bamboo poles so tourists and locals can easily see which products each boat is selling. During peak hours, it is easy to catch an image of the buyers and sellers’ busy trading on Cai Rang River. Besides the traditional boats selling kinds of fruits and vegetables, there are boats selling coffee and breakfast dishes. In addition, the market is filled with hundreds of boats carrying tourists, local people and vendors all hurrying about their business.
With unique trade features in the Mekong River, the Cai Rang floating market attracts a large number of tourists, especially foreign tourists. It is considered as one of the typical economic, trade and tourist sites of the Mekong Delta, as a result, the Can Tho municipal People’s Committee has implemented the project “Conservation and development of Cai Rang floating market for the 2016-2020 period, with a vision to 2030” to preserve the typical intangible cultural heritage of the river area, develop Cai Rang floating market as an entrepôt site for agricultural products of the region, ensure traffic safety and tourism development. Also from the project, the city’s tourism industry has organized many activities to increase the attractiveness of the floating market and link tours in the south-western region.
Most recently, the city held 2018 the Cai Rang Floating Market Culture and Tourism Festival, the festival is expected to be organized annually. The number of visitors arriving in Can Tho is more than 300,000 people per year, the Cai Rang floating market has itself attracted more than 145,000 visitors.
Under the preservation project, marking buoys will be installed to limit boats for anchoring. Wharfs, public toilets and 5,000-metre warehouses for storing products to serve tourists will also be built for the market. Garbage discharged by residents living on boats near the markets or sellers will be cleaned up better to ensure hygiene.
The Cai Rang floating market has a lot of potentials, however, the exploitation is not adequate and lacks professionalism. The level of attracting investment in infrastructure, attracting tourists and turnover from the market is still relatively low. With the aim of developing tourism, many experts and businesses in tourism field have advised that Cai Rang floating market should diversify the forms of experience for visitors associated with ecotourism sites. At the same time, characteristic tourism products of Can Tho should be established, avoiding the situation of products with poor quality and heterogeneous prices. It is necessary to implement measures to manage the prices of boats as well as the prices of products and services in the floating market, to set the visitors’ mind at ease when using services. In addition, it is necessary to have training solutions to improve the quality of human resources in the field of tourism.