BackTravel » Immerse in a Serene Morning at Ngã Năm Floating Market

Immerse in a Serene Morning at Ngã Năm Floating Market

Floating markets haven’t completely disappeared from Vietnam’s commercial landscape.

Most tourism trips to Cần Thơ involve a stop at the floating market despite its dubious role nowadays as an actual trading hub. As bridges, roads and general infrastructure improvements are made throughout the Mekong Delta, trading on waterways has become somewhat less ideal. But while Cần Thơ’s plethora of land-based supply routes supported by modern grocery stores may have relegated its floating market to little more than an Instagram hotspot, elsewhere in the delta, a great amount of agricultural trading still takes place on the water.

During a trip to explore poverty relief efforts in Long Mỹ, Saigoneer took a side trip to the Ngã Năm floating market and discovered a vibrant trading center where farmers bring tubers, ducklings, mangos, jackfruits, pork, onions and rice to the river to sell. The goods sold wholesale then travel from the river up smaller estuaries and streams to be sold at small neighborhood markets, fulfilling the daily nutritional needs of an entire region.

The activities at Ngã Năm begin early, and by daybreak the water is filled with traders and shippers hoping to conduct their business before the menacing midday sun arrives. A woman sells piping hot bowls of noodles to the sellers who work up an appetite tossing bags of gourds and transferring jugs of water, while in the small riverfront town, vendors set up shop preparing breakfast and selling all sorts of essentials from clothing to condiments.

For a small fee we were able to rent a boat and travel up and down the river to observe the buying and selling. Ngã Năm is not a popular tourist destination and the morning was spent watching people perform their routine shopping trips. As long as we didn’t get in the way of their transactions, people were happy to pose for photos, waving with mild bemusement that we were interested in their quotidian commercial activities.

Take a look at a morning spent at a traditional floating market below:

There seems to be no retirement age for Ngã Năm vendors.

Life never gets too busy for a cà phê sữa đá.

A bike on a boat is a marvel of transportation.

For some people in the delta, a boat is synonymous with a home.

Painting eyes on the boat keeps bad spirits away. We didn’t see any evil spirits, so it must work.

Sometimes you have so many potatoes you lose your seat.

This dog was an absolute menace. Thankfully it didn’t jump into our boat.

It’s a safe assumption that this isn’t the first knife he has sharpened.

Ice creation is a modern human occupation.

Walking the bridge might be an easier way to cross the river, but it certainly isn’t more fashionable than going by boat.

That is a lot of ducks for sale.

Ducks for sale.

For busy sellers, breakfast comes thanks to this ingenious bowl-carrying contraption.

A noodle break is essential for potato selling.

A new definition for “playing with one’s heart.”

Imagine if instead of stone and wood we had floors made of grain.

This boat alone will fill many dinner bowls.

Water travel is a multi-generational activity.

How many thoughts can fit on a single boat?

Homes are built for easy access to the water.

Jollibee has nothing on a river’s “fast food.”

Who needs a paddle when you have a crane?

Watermelon season is a top-tier season.

It may not be a luxury cruise, but the smiles are unrivaled.

A friendly wave before going off to more important matters.

Lục bình and various other water weeds cause frequent propeller problems.

The river is the original dishwasher.

Just another day on the river.

Upstream to lesser-known parts.

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