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Future uncertain for iconic floating market in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

Future uncertain for iconic floating market in Vietnam's Mekong Delta

Sunday, July 07, 2024, 18:33 GMT+7
Future uncertain for iconic floating market in Vietnam's Mekong Delta
Boats transporting tourists to explore Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho City, southern Vietnam. Photo: Hai Kim / Tuoi Tre

Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho City, southern Vietnam is facing a risk of sinking into oblivion as the number of boats, vendors, and buyers has gradually fallen, leading to gloomy trading activities, according to an expert.

Cai Rang is not only one of the largest wholesale floating markets in the Mekong Delta region, but also among must-visit tourist sites in the city.

Unlike other tourist destinations, the floating market thrives only when trading activities take place.

Yet, several changes in traffic infrastructure and transport means have downgraded the role of the floating market in such trading activities.

Therefore, the number of boats is on the decrease, lessening the bustling trading atmosphere at the floating market.

Tourism development expert Phan Dinh Hue, who advises many localities in the delta, remarked that while a drop in the number of trading boats at the floating market was expected, the extent of the decline was unusually sharp.

Cai Rang Floating Market is still tapped for tourism growth.

Tourism depends on the floating market, but the market has yet to benefit from tourist arrivals.

Simply bringing tourists to the floating market for sightseeing has not succeeded in boosting the incomes of local vendors who provide services and products at the market.

"Some of our recent surveys indicate that the connection between boats and the shore is inconvenient," Hue stated.

"In the past, boats carrying goods found it easy to approach the banks of the Can Tho River for trading activities.

"However, the presence of a high anti-erosion embankment has driven boats and traders away nowadays."

Aside from concerns over environmental pollution and climate change, local authorities should take action to preserve residents’ traditional lifestyle and daily cultural spaces, the expert elaborated.

It is vital to orient the floating market toward sustainable development and diversify tourism services and products to retain vendors and attract visitors.

Tourists admire Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho City, which features a few boats selling goods. Photo: Hai Kim / Tuoi Tre

Tourists admire the Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho City, where only a few boats are seen selling goods. Photo: Hai Kim / Tuoi Tre

Once the number of buyers tumbles, sellers will switch to other jobs, resulting in the disappearance of the floating market.

In addition, restaurants and resorts surrounding the floating market will also be affected heavily.

“A foreign friend of mine decided to build a resort near the floating market after he traveled to the Mekong Delta region and visited the hotspot several years ago," Hue said.

“However, he is in hot water due to the absence of both visitors and vendors at the floating market. Few boats operate at the market every morning."

The expert cited his friend as saying, “What international tourists would visit if the floating market disappears.” 

Thanh Vinh, who has returned to Vietnam after his trip to Thailand, said that Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, one of the most famous destinations in Thailand, mainly offers retail services.

Tourists mostly buy fruits and savor dishes at the floating market. 

“Visitors can immerse themselves in residents’ way of life and daily trading space as the floating market remains busy,” Vinh said.

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Tieu Bac - Nhu Binh / Tuoi Tre News

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