If you are looking for local experience, don’t miss out on the local markets where you can see the daily life and trading of many Vietnamese. Ben Thanh Market is one of the busiest local markets in Ho Chi Minh City where you can visit to enjoy Vietnamese foods and shop for lovely souvenirs.
How to Get to Ben Thanh Market
The market is on a block surrounded by 4 streets: Le Loi, Phan Chu Trinh, Le Thanh Ton, and Phan Boi Chau. You should be able to recognize it instantly: a big yellow building at Quach Thi Trang Roundabout. It will be a 4-minute ride or 10-minute walk from the Independence Palace.
Ben Thanh Market Opening Hours
5 AM – 11 PM
From Monday to Sunday
Most of the shops close at dawn, but it is time for the eateries to open and serve delicious dishes. So whether you visit the market day or night, you can still find something to treat your stomach.
History of Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is one of the oldest markets in Ho Chi Minh City, which appeared even before the French colonization. It was built at the beginning of the 17th century for small traders to exchange their goods on Ben Nghe River’s bank, next to a harbor near Gia Dinh Citadel. The port was where many travelers or people who worked in the military were dropped off before coming into the citadel. Thus, it was called “Ben Thanh” (“ben” means “harbor,” and “thanh” means “citadel”). The market near it is also associated with the name Ben Thanh Market.
In 1870, the French Government called this place Les Halles Centrales (The Central Market). Then, in 1911, the market building became old and on the edge of collapsing. As a result, it was officially moved to a new building in the present location at Quach Thi Trang Roundabout.
Ben Thanh Market Map
Ben Thanh Market is in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, where many office buildings and trading centers are located. The main front or Southside is on Le Loi Street/Quach Thi Trang Roundabout, the North on Le Thanh Ton, the East on Phan Boi Chau, and the West on Phan Chau Trinh.
Southside (Le Loi Street)
Locals and visitors who have come to Ho Chi Minh City are familiar with the big clock tower on top of the market. On the left and the right of the big hall, there are two small gates and two others on the far end of the front side.
Upon entering, visitors are usually attracted by rows of colorful textiles and clothing. You are in the right place if you are looking for Ao dai materials. Besides, there is also a wide range of clothing, such as T-shirts, shirts, and pants, making lovely gifts for your Vietnam trip. The price range is commonly from VND 100,000 to VND 200,000.
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Eastside (Phan Boi Chau Street)
There are 6 gates on this side of the market. When going inside the market through these entrances, you can find many packaged foods, usually Vietnamese specialties. They sell candied fruits, a must-try for any sweet tooth, coffee beans, tea, fish sauce, and other spices. Besides these stalls, you can also see many dried goods like roasted peanuts and dried fish, squid, and shrimp. These dried seafood are very popular in Vietnam because they can be stored for a long time and create unique dishes’ flavors.
On the left side of the East entrances, next to the clothing ranges, are many cosmetics and shining jewelry stores. Cosmetics are very various; they are not only domestic products but also imported items.
Northside (Le Thanh Ton Street)
The first thing you notice when coming through this entrance is a variety of fish and meats. Many locals come here to shop for ingredients to cook their lunch and dinner. There are also places selling processed foods, flowers, Vietnamese fruits, herbs, vegetables, and a range of fish and meat stalls. Ben Thanh Market won’t disappoint if you are a fan of tropical produce like mangoes, mangosteen, jackfruit, and sweetsop.
But perhaps in this area, the eateries are the place keeping visitors and locals the longest. They sell typical Vietnamese foods here, like Pho, broken rice, and some sweet desserts like Che. The price is also quite reasonable.
Westside (Phan Chu Trinh Street)
There are stalls for gifts, art, and ceramics inside this entrance. They would be exciting souvenirs to remind you about your Vietnam trip years later.
You can also find many shops in this area selling shoes for men, women, and children. Besides, there are ranges of appliances and daily necessity stalls where many locals come to shop for their homes.
Interesting Facts About Ben Thanh Market
- Ben Thanh Market ranked 15th on the list of the best markets in the world.
- Most of the shops are owned by Vietnamese people, and the sellers are also Vietnamese. However, many sellers can make basic conversations in two or more languages to invite foreigners into their shops.
- If you want to buy an item at a reasonable price, it would be better to have some bargaining skills. The first number the sellers tell you is usually not the actual price of that item.
Conclusion on Vietnamese Markets: Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a mix of modern and traditional Vietnamese local markets. Many items are sold here, from fresh produces, processed foods, eateries, to fashion, cosmetics, and even luxury goods. You will find many local shoppers here, but you also might pump in many other fellow travelers from all over the world when going around this market.