Cai Be and Cai Rang floating markets in Mekong Delta are popular among tourists traveling to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). But there is a hidden and less-known by travelers fruit floating market in Saigon which is very interesting to visit. The fruit floating market has existed for a few decades.
Saigon Floating Market on Kenh Te Channel
During the day or night boat whaleboat and junk moor along the Kenh Te Canal on Tran Xuan Soan street, District 7, Ho Chi Minh city to sell enormous seasonal fresh fruits at wholesale and retail. Tran Xuan Soan street is about 6km long but the market is busiest from Rach Ong bridge to Kenh Te bridge. The market is always crowded and more people come there when the sun goes down. Customers may be people who do exercises in the early morning and stop to buy fresh fruits or officers stop to buy fruits on the way they go home from working places. Retailers also come there to buy fruits at wholesale because of low price and high quality.
Fruits from Mekong Delta
Sipping some coffee in a cafe on the street and looking over the canals, we could see the hustle and bustle of the floating market with many boats with fruits, the porters load package of fruits from the boat onto the bank, customers come to buy and bargain for fruits. And we also had a chance to listen to the stories of vendors at the market. Most of the vendors at this fruit floating market in Saigon come from provinces of Mekong Delta such as Long An, Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Hau Giang… Most of the fruits are specialties of each region such as banana, mango, plum, guava, orange…
Real Local Life on Boats
Stories at Saigon Floating Market
On the boat of Mrs. Ho Thi Lan from Ben Tre there were 4 tons of coconuts. She told us: “I’ve been selling coconuts at the market for over 23 years. Every month we go about 4-5 goods-carrying trips, we earn about 15,000,000 VND after each trip”. Mr. Ba, who also comes from Ben Tre told us: “I’ve been doing my business here for 2 years. The price is 2/3 cheaper in comparison to the coconuts sold on the streets or in cafes. The coconuts are from my garden. Before selling at this floating market, I sold the coconuts at retail along rivers and canals. I moored the boat, drank coffee on the bank to waited for customers. When people came to buy the coconuts, I jumped onto the boat to bring them the coconuts”.
Not far from our seats, Mrs. Nam from Vinh Long was arranged bunches of bananas and bring them from the boat onto the bank. The rows of yellow and flashy bananas under the sunlight in the late afternoon looked like a still life painting. Her booth was located on the street because there was no place at the roofed market at the end of Tan Thuan bridge. When it rains, she has to bring all bananas into the boat. Other vendors who were from Cai Lay, Tien Giang and sold jack fruit for many years, told us that although they sold goods on the street, they had to pay the taxes to the government.
Boats are home
The boats have become the second houses of the vendors because they live mainly on the boats. There are all commodities on the boats such as clothes, kitchen wares, drinking water, bed, mosquito-net … Some of them bring their children with them on goods-carrying trips. The life is like a nomadic shepherd on water. They do a silent work which is bringing fresh fruits to other Saigon people in the city.