The West in the flood season: Go to Cai Rang market to discover the cultural beauty and enjoy a variety of delicious dishes
Sitting and eating a bowl of noodles on the boat, drinking a cup of braised coffee, or watching the bustling market are all experiences you should try once in your life.
Recently, the West is becoming a “bright spot” on the tourist map of Vietnam. In addition to the charming river scenery, this place also attracts visitors through the experience of trading and dining on the bustling canoe, which only the West has. Although floating markets are found throughout the western provinces, the busiest and most developed in tourism is the Cai Rang floating market located in the “capital” of Can Tho. When the West is in the flood season, the fruit trees are lush, the nature is brilliant, you should also take a trip to the floating market to feel the soul of the simple countryside.
Go to Cai Rang floating market to discover the beauty of Western culture
People often say jokingly that if you come to Can Tho without going to Cai Rang floating market, you will not know the “soul” of Tay Do land. Because this place not only preserves the cultural beauty of the West but also is an attractive tourist destination for domestic and foreign tourists.
Cai Rang floating market is located on the waterway of Can Tho river, right at the confluence of 3 rivers (Cai Rang and Hau river branches) so it is convenient for trade with neighboring provinces and the Mekong Delta. This is the reason why Cai Rang floating market has become the busiest market in the West, once honored by international newspapers as one of the five most interesting markets in Asia. Unlike the market on the mainland, Cai Rang floating market usually meets very early. To fully feel the crowd and bustle, you should visit the market from 5am – 8am, at this time dozens of boats and boats will begin to surround you, along with the sound of offers and bids echoing the whole river.
“There is nothing on the shore, there is something in the river”, you can find all kinds of items on the floating market. From vegetables, fruits to food and drinks. In each row of goods, the seller puts up an extra tree, on the tree hangs something, the boat sells that thing so that tourists looking from afar will know what they need to buy.
Coming to Cai Rang floating market, you will have the opportunity to feel more clearly the rhythm of life of the people in the river region. Not only a place to trade, but each boat anchored here is also the home of merchants, all daily activities take place right on the boat. When they run out of stock, they leave again and come back a few days later with new stock.
In addition, near Cai Rang floating market area, there are many unique traditional craft villages such as Thom Rom net weaving village, Thoi Nhut flower village, Thuan Hung rice paper village and most prominently the traditional noodle making village. Here, you will learn the stages of noodle production and make your own famous Can Tho noodles.
Many tourists after going to the floating market also flock to visit traditional craft villages (Photo: @dicungHungnhe)
Floating on the river enjoying food
Once you have come to Cai Rang floating market, you must wake up very early to enjoy breakfast floating on the river. This is a very unique and bold Western cuisine that you can’t find in other places. There is a full range of dishes, from noodles, vermicelli, bread, … to soft drinks. Although it is sold on a boat, the pot of broth is always kept hot, always emitting a lot of smoke. Just call in the direction of the boat with the dish you like, the seller will row to your boat and quickly put the ingredients in the bowl, add the broth, sprinkle the green onions and pass it to your hand. The feeling in the early morning is still cool, sitting on the boat sipping hot dishes is nothing better.
The most famous dish in Cai Rang floating market is a noodle soup with a mildly sweet and aromatic broth. The ingredients in the bowl of noodles are just as complete as the mainland, including sliced boiled meat, pork liver, minced meat, pork ribs, fish cakes, fish balls and raw vegetables, bean sprouts. Thanks to its special taste, the noodle dish at Cai Rang floating market was once praised by the famous chef Gordon Ramsay.
Photo: @2anngoncungnhi, @_nymmm
Bun Rieu has an eye-catching orange color with ingredients such as tomatoes, blood, tofu, pork ribs, etc., mixed with a richly seasoned broth and signature fish sauce that also “causes nostalgia” for many visitors. When you come to Cai Rang floating market, you can find the vermicelli boat of U Bay – the younger sister of the “queen of broth” U Hai to try. Because it was passed on by U Hai, it is guaranteed that the vermicelli noodle dish is not less delicious.
Photo: @dicungHungnhe, @mientaycogi
Rice noodles with barbecue
The boat carrying skewers of meat is grilled on the griddle, giving off a sweet aroma that has fascinated many visitors to the floating market. A portion usually has fresh vermicelli, grilled meat, raw vegetables and sweet fish sauce served. The meat skewers are also meticulously processed with a thin layer of pork, which is marinated to taste and roll the fat inside, so when eating it is soft and moist, not dry.
If you enjoy the cuisine of Cai Rang floating market but you skip the sandwich, it is indeed a mistake. Although sold on boats, the ingredients are still neatly placed in a glass cabinet. Whenever there are customers, the seller will bake bread on a charcoal stove, then add chopped braised pork, cucumber, omelet, coriander and soy sauce.
Porridge is also one of the special dishes that you should try on a floating boat. Unlike the mainland, porridge in the floating market does not mix fresh blood into the pot, but simply white porridge eaten with sliced boiled meat, blood, pho, … with a little green onion. Compared to the mainland, the ingredients are a bit “modest”, but when enjoyed in the river setting, the dish also becomes more delicious.
Coffee, soft drinks, fresh coconut, soy milk
After breakfast, you can order more black coffee, milk coffee, soy milk, soft drinks or 1 fresh coconut to sip. In particular, the coffee in the floating market is a kind of braised coffee that is brewed with a medicinal pot instead of a filter, so the coffee base will be bold and the taste is very different from the ones on the mainland.
Ảnh: @la_hunger_du_jour, @_nymmm, @ndjshwhwbs
Buy fresh fruit at the boat at an affordable price
Cai Rang Floating Market is the convergence of all kinds of specialty fruits of the West River with undisputed freshness. Which are mangoes, watermelons, oranges, bananas, grapefruits, custard-apple, pineapples, mulberries, etc. If you want to buy fruit to bring home, you can visit the anchored boats or motorboats running around the market. Surely the fruits here will have extremely “bargain” prices because Cai Rang floating market is also the wholesale market of neighboring provinces.
Not only do buying fruit to bring back as a gift, but many tourists coming here are also excited about the experience of eating fruit right on the boat. With fruits like rambutan or strawberry skin, you can peel and enjoy immediately. Particularly for pineapples, watermelons or mangoes, the merchants will help you peel and wash them.
Photo: Hong Ha, @limonrojo
If you love the West, come back to Can Tho to experience the idyllic culture at Cai Rang floating market!