Right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City is the Ben Thanh Market (Chợ Bến Thành). More than a place to go shopping, the market is also an architectural landmark, a center of local Vietnamese life and commerce, and a meeting point all rolled into one.
The distinctive cream-colored market building with its wide clock tower was built in 1870 by French colonizers. Everything from fresh fruit and meat to frying pans and mops are sold at the Ben Thanh Market. While travelers are welcome to browse, this is an authentic local market where Ho Chi Minh City’s residents do their daily shopping. Therefore, it’s an ideal place to immerse yourself in local life. The streets surrounding the market are also fun to check out, with lots of hawker stalls selling tasty Vietnamese cuisine.
Stop by the market to take a break from sightseeing and pick up lunch, or buy food to take away on a picnic. Many travelers visit independently, but the market is also a fixture on most guided sightseeing tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The market sits in the middle of some very busy roads, and crossing can be a challenge if you’re not used to Vietnamese traffic. Walk out slowly and steadily so that cars and scooters have plenty of time to see you and stop. If in doubt, cross with the locals.
- Be prepared to haggle when shopping in the market, but keep things friendly and respectful.
- A highlight of the market is the fruit section. Many visitors may find foods they’ve never seen or tasted before.
How to Get There
The Ben Thanh Market is in the central city. Taxi drivers will know where it is, but travelers who don’t speak Vietnamese may mispronounce Vietnamese place names without realizing. It’s best to write down the name of the place you want to visit and show it to your driver.
When to Get There
While the market is open all day from around 7am, it’s especially lively in the evenings, when locals come to eat and shop after work.
Visit the Binh Tay Market
For a more Chinese type of shopping experience, visit the Binh Tay Market in the Cholon neighborhood of Ho Chi Minh City. This area is known as the city’s Chinatown, and visitors can find Chinese Buddhist temples, Chinese restaurants, and a wide variety of Chinese goods for sale.