Even though you have spent years shopping at several malls and commercial centers in your hometown, you will find that nothing beats shopping and exploring an Asian market. The Ben Thanh Market found in Ho Chi Minh City is an exhilarating experience that brings you an Asian market at its best. Being a bustling daytime market and a social center by sunset, the Ben Thanh Market is absolutely a top destination in the dynamic city of Vietnam.
The market was originally called Les Halles Centrales and was built in year 1870 by the French. The original market was situated near the Ben Nghe River Dike and was only renamed in 1912 to its current and popular name. What was once a swamp was then turned into a landfill as the market stands in the center of the city. It lies in the most central and interesting location in District 1, which makes transportation to the market extremely convenient.
The market starts during early morning where shop owners sell everything from dry exotic food to funky apparel at reasonable prices. High-quality fruits and vegetables often fill the market as goods are mostly displayed in a very attractive way to catch the eyes of the buyer. The market has everything a local family will need in their daily life, which is the main reason why it never fails to be busy on any given day. From clothing and jewelry to handmade crafts, the market has absolutely everything and anything possible to sell. The market atmosphere can get quite intense and extreme at times with its narrow aisles that press against you from both sides. Squeeze your way past the hundreds of merchants that grab and shout at you to buy their wares. Despite being so chaotic, it is after all part of the exciting experience of going to this Saigon market. Remember, as with most Asian markets, that bargaining is a must.
The market is one of the best places to buy coffee. A quick tip to help is to buy your coffee from the stalls located inside the market as outside stalls tend to be more expensive. For a reasonable quantity of purchase, store owners can throw in a bunch of free coffee filters upon request. Vietnamese coffee is extremely delicious, which is why it remains a favorite item of tourists to bring home.
By the late afternoon to a few hours after midnight, the shops inside the market are closed but several restaurants and establishments start to open outside in its surrounding streets. The often small yet interesting restaurants offer a variety of choices such as seafood, grills, bubble teas and, of course, exotic Vietnamese food. Get to see the night market filled with lights and glamour by nighttime as the neighborhood is instantly illuminated by bright and beautiful lights.
The Ben Thanh Market is possibly one of the most well-known symbols of Ho Chi Minh City as it regularly shows up in many movies, publications and travel articles. Certainly, a trip to Ho Chi Minh City cannot be complete without a visit to the Ben Thanh Market to experience what Vietnam is all about.