I love to explore the places that are off the typical Tourist traps, places that you may have never heard of. Villages like those in Northern Peru, where the locals are as interested in you as you are of them. Can Tho Vietnam didn’t disappoint on this count.
After being disappointed to have not seen the floating markets of Thailand, I set out to find something uniquely local in Vietnam. Can Tho is a small village in the southern part of the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. We were able to find a direct flight from Phu Quoc to Can Tho so traveling there was actually quite easy.
OUR FLOATING MARKET TOUR
Before the break of dawn, we were picked up by Mr. Bin and an older gentleman via motorbikes, we rode to the docks, where we were quickly shuttled to a small boat for the hour plus boat ride in near pitch black. You must leave early if you want to experience the full of the floating market experience.
As we arrived at the market area, the light was just beginning to appear in the sky. It almost made the whole scene feel surreal. The large boats like the one pictured below, actually travel from small villages (sometimes days away) and stay until all of their goods are sold. Hammocks, children running around playing, and clothes hanging to dry on the boats was evidence that the boat crews and families were living on the boats.
The large boats will all have a flagpole that have their wares attached to show from afar what they have available. Looking for potatoes? Look up and find the flagpoles! It’s interesting to watch as they remove these wares from the flagpoles as they sell out. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get a good photo to show you).
First things first…COFFEE!!
The entire experience of coffee in Vietnam is one that you shouldn’t miss out on. Even if you don’t typically like coffee, give it a try. From the Egg Coffees in Hanoi to the standard sweet milk coffee that you find everywhere; hot or cold…it’s a treat!
The coffee here at the market was prepared and served from small boats. The affectionately termed (by me) “Coffee Lady” went from boat to boat – big and small – and carefully and skillfully prepared the hot sweet coffee without spilling a drop.
We continued to cruise around the boats for an hour or so as everything came to life. Transactions were conducted from small to large. The whole scene was truly a social as well as commercial experience. Women and men alike would pull boats close together and presumedly share the latest gossip or news.
Laughter and smiles were as prevalent as the tired, weary looks among those that I assume had been working days on end.
That’s not all…
Rice Noodle Factory
After we had our fill of the floating market, Mr. Bin took us down some of the small tributaries from the main river. There we visited a Rice Noodle Factory where i even got to try my hand at making the rice paper that is used for so many meals in Vietnam (egg rolls).
Snake Farm Anyone??
We opted to skip over the snake farm…it just felt like a thing to induce nightmares! We did see some of the snake hides as we walked past. That was more than enough for me as the hides were about 9ft long!!!
The next stop was a bit more my speed. CHOCOLATE!! Just a small operation hidden away amongst the small villages, this cacao farm was beautiful. The owner was welcoming and kind.
The owner (pictured above) and his family run the entire operation. You can smell the cacao as soon as you get close. He told us that he does the extraction about every 3 days (below). This is just one small part of the process.
“After harvesting, the shell and the white meat will be removed, only the beans are preserved. Cocoa beans will be poured into large wooden boxes and then covered with banana leaves. After that, they are fermented for 5-7 days. The fermentation process is very important for the taste of chocolate.
The remaining fresh flesh is fermented, turned into liquid that flows down, leaving the brown beans. During fermentation, the temperature in the bin can be up to 50 ° C.”
Translated from: http://kenh14.vn/
Trinity got to see and taste the sweet white flesh that surrounds the cacao beans, fresh from the pod!!
We did find out later that the cacao farm is actually a home-stay. If you would like a full emersion experience with a wonderful and pleasant family, I would fully recommend a stay here – perhaps I’ll stay on my next visit to Vietnam! Homestay: CONTACT HERE
We had so many exciting and fun activities on this tour. Riverside lunch, local produced snacks/fruit/drinks, crossing on precarious ‘bridges’, exploring the local villages, and slow boating along the river. It was a day full of energy, excitement, relaxation and engagement with the local communities.
How To Book your Trip
This post only shows the highlights of the tour we took. There were several other things that made the trip so much more than I can put into words. Mr. Bin was the best of hosts (with a few surprises along the way). This wasn’t your typical group tour but a more personalized individual tour. We had a wonderful and full day! I don’t get anything from recommending Mr. Bin, but I would highly recommend his tour services. Everything was well organized, and custom tailored to what we did or didn’t want to see.
Contact Mr.Bin at firstname.lastname@example.org.