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Floating Markets, Cái Bè District, Tiền Giang Province

A Day on the Mekong River Delta
We arranged a private tour of the Mekong River Delta through the Park Hyatt Saigon. We were driven from the hotel to Cai Be in a Cadillac with snacks and drinks, then escorted to our private river boat (also loaded with fresh fruit, coffee and tea, and other snacks). Our english-speaking tour guide brought us onto a small rowed boat through the smaller channels of the delta, explaining local life and the various trades of the people who live there. We saw a floating market and had lunch at Mr. Kiet's historic house. Highly recommend spending the morning and afternoon on this tour.

Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta
Now I have been to numerous markets in my time, but this was by far one of the most unique. As part of our trip to Vietnam, my brother and I decided to take a trip to the Mekong Delta. From Ho Chi Minh City it's about a three hour bus ride to the tiny town of Cai Be. Once there, we boarded our large, flat boat and made our way up the river. The town of Cai Be was rather quiet, but we soon realized that it was because all the activity was out on the water. We entered a bay that was filled with boats like the ones pictured above. Our guide, Tao, explained that each vendor sells something different, and a mast on each boat with a specific item on it denotes what wares they peddle. Interested customers merely float on up and try to make a deal. Unfortunately, this market was for locals only, so we were unable to buy anything. To this day, I've never seen anything quite like the fascinating floating markets of the Mekong Delta.

An Accidental Glimpse
In our travels, we all fire up the camera and point, aim, and shoot our way through a country trying to capture those 'special moments.' But every once in a while, we get the perfect misfire, that accidental photo that truly captures the essence of a place, which you couldn't have queued up on your own. As I was meticulously documenting my trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be and on up the Mekong Delta, I happened to be on a boat in the middle of the 'floating markets' when I accidentally captured this moment. I consider myself a decent planner, but for some reason that remains unbeknownst to me, I did NOT factor in the ruthless sun that would assault my skin on this particular day. As such, I was wearing one of those cone-shaped hats (gratefully given to me by our guide, Tao), bleeding sweat, barely able to hold my old-school, overweight SLR camera steady for any decent shots on this particular day. However, when I finally returned home and was able to properly review my pictures on a large screen, I was greeted with this intimate moment on a boat from the market. I wish I could take creative credit for this shot, but I wasn't even looking through the viewfinder. It was an accident, but I like to think that for this very reason, it is a true glimpse into a moment in the day of the life of two young men that live in Cai Be, on the Mekong Delta, in Vietnam.

Satisfy Every Craving On The Mekong
As I slowly approached the Cai Be floating market on the Mekong, and my eyes adjusted, I realized that I was looking at not a solid land mass, but hundreds of floating boats crammed together side by side, this way and that - essentially a farmers' market on water, Mekong-style.

The woman in this photo was peeling and slicing pineapple after pineapple to order - the best pineapple I've ever had, to be sure. She even let me climb aboard her boat to get a closer look.

One boat was loaded down with hundreds of coconuts; another was piled high with what looked to be thousands of bananas. If you're thirsty or hungry, this market is where it's at.

Care for a cold beverage? In the mood for pho? Just signal the boat carrying soft drinks, beer and ice - essentially a floating 7 Eleven - and place your order. Or wave down the waterborne noodle shop. They'll ladle out steaming hot broth and fresh noodles and pass it to you, carefully, over the side of your gently rocking boat. Slurp fast, though, because they are waiting for you to return their bowl and spoon before moving on to the next customer.

In the middle of the muddy Mekong, commerce runs wild and the scene is surreal. The beer is cold, the pho is hot and the opportunity to experience local life on one of the world's most famous rivers is precious. If you're headed that way, you won't want to miss it.

Cai Be
As the ship sails leisurely along the river, you’ll catch glimpses of the rich life along the Mekong Delta. Today, enjoy an up-close look at how area residents live, work, and play with a visit to Cai Be, a village in west Tien Gang province. Hop a trishaw for a ride around town past beautifully restored homes, then meet with village elders to hear about how life here has evolved. Visit the famous floating market at the junction of the Tien River to watch as vendors on hundreds of small boats ply their fruits, veggies, and fresh fish. Onboard, you’ll savor such regional bounty in Uniworld’s signature gourmet meals, each elegantly presented and served with wines and unlimited beverages. Not to worry: onboard fitness facilities and wellness classes, plus bicycles and Nordic walking equipment for use ashore, can help balance out the indulgences.

TT. Cái Bè, Cái Bè, Tiền Giang, Vietnam
+84 869 788 586