Although modern trading sites and shopping malls are becoming more popular in the fast-paced lifestyle of the Saigonese, traditional markets have been long-standing and keeping several cultural aspects of the Vietnamese for hundred years, and they are the symbols of the city. When travelers visit Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, a visit to the local markets is the best place to interact with the local culture.
One of the city's oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh Market has been situated for over 100 years in the center of District 1. The iconic image of the clock tower in the Southern gate of the market is one of the symbols of Ho Chi Minh City.
Ben Thanh was built in 1914. It had been established before the French conquered Gia Dinh, the former name of Saigon in the 18th century. In the beginning, the location of the market was on the banks of the Ben Nghe River, next to the boat landing wharf in the citadel of Gia Dinh. This landing wharf was where the non-residents and servicemen came to the city to trade, so it was called Ben Thanh. The meaning of the market name is fascinating, Ben meaning “wharf” and Thanh meaning “citadel”.
Standing over 100 years, this market became the witness of historical events related to the city’s changes and the connection between the past and the present.
The majority of products sold at Ben Thanh market include souvenirs, handicrafts, garments, textiles, and local specialties. This market is an attraction for both locals and foreign visitors. At this place, visitors will hear a variety of languages from sellers and buyers. The noisiness and dynamic atmosphere of the market make Ben Thanh one of the most crowded places for shopping in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hours: 4 AM - 11 PM
Address: Le Loi, Ben Thanh, District 1
Ba Chieu market is also well-known when mentioning the famous local markets in Ho Chi Minh City. Located on Bach Dang Street at the center of Binh Thanh District, this market is always crowded with both locals and tourists.
This market was built in 1942 with a total area of 8,465 meters squared and was not upgraded until 1987. There are 8 separate areas allocated for nearly 800 households conducting business over 40 types of products. The majority of goods here are items of clothing, footwear, fruits, and foods at affordable prices for the average class.
There is a variety of selection regarding quality and types of products in the Ba Chieu market. With the advantage of the location, which is in the center of the District, traveling to the market is quite easy by motorbike or bus. Additionally, there is a rumor that the sellers here usually bid a higher price than usual for their products, so bargaining skill is essential. When visiting this market, it is best to go with a local guide so that he/she can help you bargain.
Hours: 5 AM - 8 PM
Address: Bach Dang, Ward 1, Binh Thanh District
Since 1926, Tan Dinh market has been the business area of multiple types of local products, focusing on Fresh and Raw foodstuffs, clothing, fabric, foods, dry foods, footwear, and fruits. Among them, there is a vast amount of dressing items, and also the food stalls have lots of delicious dishes such as fermented Vietnamese vermicelli soup, crab, and shrimp tapioca noodle soup, etc. Also, customers can feel safe here because there is a security team always on the lookout.
Tan Dinh doubles as a wet market and a street food market
Interestingly, Tan Dinh is often referred to as the “market for the rich” because the average price of each product in this market is more expensive than the others, being tripled or quadrupled in comparison with the real valuation. Hence, shoppers have to know how to bargain.
Hours: 3 AM - 9 PM
Address: Hai Ba Trung, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
Binh Tay Market is structured on old buildings in the China Town
Completed in 1930, Binh Tay is one of the biggest local markets in Ho Chi Minh City, and it is the leading market of District 6 in the last 80 years. With a broad range of selection, it is a familiar location for professional traders from the Southwest and the Mekong Delta region. The typical products here are electronics and food.
It is interesting to note that Binh Tay was designed with the ancient architecture, indicating through the style of the roof, the sculptures, and a vacant yard for worship in the center area. The decoration, design, and liveliness of this market are the main factors attracting many visitors. This market is not to be missed in your Ho Chi Minh shopping destinations.
Hours: 6 AM - 7 PM
Address: Thap Muoi, Ward 2, District 6
This 56-years old local market is located in District 5. It is famous as the warehouse of fashion products and foods.
An Dong is the airiest local market of the city, equipped an escalator system to serve the customers. Apart from the items of clothing, there are also dried foods (shrimp, mushrooms, fish, fruits), and a dynamic eatery area. Moreover, banks and hotels are available near the market as well.
Navigating through the local market's aisles can be quite an adventure
Hours: 7 AM - 6 PM
Address: An Duong Vuong, Ward 9, District 5
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Tan Dinh was built in 1960. There are 9 gates including 4 bigs and 5 small gates. The main entrance faces Ly Thuong Kiet Street. The total area of 22,800 meters squared is divided into 4 sub-areas with approximately 3,000 dealers.
Visiting Tan Binh local market, you can buy from jewelry to household appliances, types of machinery, foods, raw foodstuffs, etc. But the most favorite products of the market are ready-to-wear clothes, wedding dresses, and fabric. Tan Binh is famous for its lowest prices in the city for wedding accessories.
Hours: 6 AM - 6 PM
Address: Ly Thuong Kiet, Ward 8, Tan Binh District
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Established in 1967, Ba Hoa market, named after a woman from the Quang Nam central province, is a well-known trading area specializing in Quang Nam’s food.
Not only popular among the Quang Nam locals, but other residents from different areas also come to this market because of the central dishes specialties. Besides looking for hometown foods, Quang Nam locals visit Ba Hoa market to interact with others from their hometown's accents. Traders here are very friendly, hospitable and always ready to introduce their products at reasonable prices without any higher-adjusted prices. Gradually, this market is not only a Quang local market but also a mini town gathering for people from the Middle regions of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hours: 2 AM - 8 PM
Address: Tran Mai Ninh, Ward 11, Tan Binh District
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Although Vietnam is becoming more developing with a variety of modern trading platforms and supermarkets, the traditional markets are irreplaceable in the locals' minds. They are places both for selling and purchasing activities, reconnecting the hometown memories, and local cultures. Thus, they are a legacy of the locals and a historical witness from the past to the present.
For tourists, visiting any local markets in Ho Chi Minh City is an amazing cultural exchange experience, and it is completely free! Interested in some evening Vietnam shopping? Check out the night markets in Ho Chi Minh City.
If you have particular Ho Chi Minh shopping items you wish to purchase and don't know which market is best, let us know in the comments, and we'll get back to you!
These markets have such interesting energy that I have never experienced before. I was quite overwhelmed when I first walked in, and to be honest I was hesitated when you guys suggested the market, because I truly didn't want to go to any crowded or messy place. Your tour guide helped me a lot, navigated me through the crowds and showed me how to haggle for a t-shirt. I couldn't imagine doing it all by myself.
My name is Edgar and I am currently living and studying in Saigon. I was just reading this article and found it very useful. At school, we were recently assigned a project which was to film a short documentary around social issues in Saigon. As a group, we have chosen to talk about different charges for Foreigners vs Vietnamese locals in markets. Since it seems like you know the city very well, could we interview you for our film project around this topic ?
Thanks for reaching out to our team. Feel free to send us more information through our Contact page, and we hope to assist your school assignment any way we can.
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