Formation & Operation of Floating Market – Mekong Delta


Mekong Delta  is an area made up by the silt of the Mekong River comes down from the source of the river from Tibet  through Myanma, Laos,  Thailand and Cambodia with two systems : Upper and Lower including 8 branches and mouths pour in to the east sea of Vietnam : Tiểu , Đại, BA ALI, HÀM LUÔNG , CỔ CHIÊN, CUNG HẦU, ĐỊNH AN  and TRANH ĐỀ.,with flow range : 30,000min wet season, and 13’000m3 in dry season.

Some important figures to remember!

  •  AREA:nearly 40,000km2 and still expanding wider to the Gulf of Thailand ( or Siam) and the East Sea of Vietnam  every year from 60-100 meters.
  • WATER COVER: 90% in wet season and 50% in dry season.
  • WATERWAY SYSTEM: more than 41,000 km of rivers and man-made canals.
  • POPULATION: 17.2 m (by  Apr-1st  2009).
  • KEY PRODUCTION::Farm-produce as rice, tropical fruits and aquaculture products .

Particularly, as a gift of nature, Mekong delta enjoy reasonable weather all the year round, half-year of wet season and another half to dry and high humidity, the region is very rare to have typhoon and even strong wind. Aside from that, on the surface is covered by very rich sediments of river silt as natural fertiliser for all type of trees.


1. Formed by the nature of  Mekong delta

  • Land surface covered by water and the river systems (as above mentioned)  boats are the best means of transportation for traveling and trade from old times until today.
  • The quality of soil in Mekong Delta made of silt is very soft very difficult for road building and roads are often destroyed by floods every year.

2. The specialization of agriculture and horticulture:

Different areas in MK Delta are specialized in one sort of farm-produce; Tien Giang with longans, sapodillas, mangoes, star-apples; Ben Tre with mangostins, rambootans and durians; Vinh Long with manderins , oranges and pomelos; Can Tho with sapodillas , pomelos ; Hau Giang and Kien Giang with pineapples and and sweet patatoes; An Giang  with pumpkins and corns -> cause the need of barter and exchange.

3. Time of formation

From early of 17 century, Many Vietnamese evacuated from Trinh –Nguyễn conflict that cause one the longest civil war of Vietnam history. Until 18 century. Mekong delta was a new and potential territory for The Nguyen dynasty to expand their territory in the South. The water ways was the most convenient mean of transportation in this region and people just lived not far from river where they could easy come of escape from the danger of animal or enemy. Join of river front soon became market and good and product were easily exchanged on the water surface than on the ground. Floating market had been formed since this time.

Beside, traders in Vietnam also bring farm- produce that can’t be grown in Mk Delta from the other regions to sell, such as carrot, turnips, cabbages, onions… from Dalat to sell to consumers in MKD. Produce could be shipped by trucks and unloaded on to boats then delivered to countryside market.


From the early morning, boats from many directions that come to the river join. Boat carries different farm produces, in the early time, money was not existed and commercial basically based on exchanges. Later, a few people had become middle man. They brought fruits from other region for sale and also buy fruit from local farmers. As early as busy in the early morning so people can have time to boat back home for farming. The middle man may stay there during the day time and waiting for another morning.


1.  Professional traders hang farm produce on bamboo sticks signs to tell buyers ( their buyers could be brokers, river-vendors or last consumers)

Middle persons  buy farm-produce from traders then sell to retailers ( or last consumers) and from farmers then sell to traders:

We can recognize the middle person by looking at their goods. They always buy a large amount of  vegetables or fruits , carried  in bulk or packed in big bags. Their boats are normally medium sized and run by motors ( not row because they’re heavy)

Farmers sell their farm-produce to traders ( not middle man because they come here to sell with better prices, and middle men make better profit from farmers who can’t come to markets). We can recognize farmers by their produce , they only sell one or two sorts of vegetables or fruits and the way they carry or pack is simple.

River-vendors ( or retailers) buy produce with whole-sale prices then go to countryside to resell with retail prices. We can recognize these people by: they have small boats ( sampan) with rows ( when they come to market and resell) and small motors for long distance ride when against tide and wind

Besides, we can also see groceries and floating restaurants in floating markets  serve people live in house-boats


Education :

People live on house-boats , especially children , do not have opportunities have high education levels. They could be the eldest children from big-sized families have to work to support their younger brothers and sisters; their children born on boats ( by country-middle wives), grow up on boats, often go to school late and quit school early to take over their parents’ careers.

Middle man earns for living on the house boat, they have to sometime leave their children at home and under care of their grand parents. Children may not receive enough love and care from parents

Sanitation and safety:There is no water or waste treatment on the house boat, therefore boat people live on rivers normally pour(untreated an indecomposable) waste into the environment, cause pollution that harm species, human health  .Possibility to down for children live on boats is very high.


With the development new commercial industries, many new roads have been built-in Mekong Delta to connect villages and towns, many supper markets and convenient stores have been opened make the demand of using boats less popular than cars and motor bikes. People have started putting some floating markets away.( like Phung Hiep )


Floating market is one of traditional and unique of Mekong delta. The market was natural formed by the geography of the regions with thousands of natural and man-made canal.  The market was convenient place for farmer exchanged their produces in the old-time and purchase other produces nowadays. The market helps farmer can sell produces directly without middle person. As the history, Vietnamese came to Mekong by boat and they have been used to with living on boats everyday. Beside of commercial boats, there are many other boat as vendors, restaurants and grocery store. Boat people tells what they buy and sell by the high pole where they can hang up the produce. However, there are some disadvantages for people living on boat, their children can not go to school fully as other people living on land and get very low education. Boat people use to pollute the river from their waste and also use unclean water for cooking and washing.

Võ Thành Đức – TIC Local guide

Note: I can’t save pictures from your file, so, I had to use other photos! Sorry Mr Duc


About Insiderjourneyguidehelpdesk

Local guide manager-Vietnam
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