In the ongoing series about the Asia continent’s best markets, we next highlight Ben Thanh Market, the oldest trading place in Ho Chi Minh City.
Located in the heart of District 1 next to Saigon’s equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe traffic circle, Ben Thanh Market is one of the most iconic buildings in the city and images of the giant clock on top of the market can be found on postage stamps and postcards throughout the country.
Originally called Les Halles Centrales, the facility started as a wet market by vendors who would gather to sell their daily catch reeled in from the nearby Saigon River. A fire damaged a good deal of the building in 1870, but it was quickly rebuilt. Today’s market is stocked with fish and much more, including clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, kitchenware, groceries, handicrafts and Vietnam’s excellent coffee. Fabric is extremely popular with foreign tourists and nearby tailor shops will make up the finished article at competitive prices.
After dark when the market officially closes, a night market is set up, and restaurants in the surrounding streets open their doors to sell authentic Vietnamese food and other world cuisines. As with other markets in South East Asia, prices for tourists are always higher so to be sure to engage in some good natured bargaining.