Though it would defeat the purpose of a vacation to wake up early, getting up before the sun to explore the Long Bien Market in Hanoi can promise a one-in-a-lifetime local experience. There’s no better place to have authentic insights into the Vietnamese wet market culture and buy freshly-harvested produce than the largest wholesale market in Hanoi.
The inside part of the market sells fish and seafood, so be careful if you cannot handle the opulent fishy smell
The entrance on Hong Ha Street
The market operates from around 10 PM to the next day, but it actually comes to life (way before the rest of the city does) at about 2 - 4 AM. Therefore, even though it is an excruciating challenge to wake up super early, or stay up that late, it is worthwhile to witness the bustling scene of traders getting about their daily work routine in the dark background of the night.
You can also have a walk on Yen Phu Street, which is nearby, at around 1 - 2 AM to have an overview look of the market.
The best ways to travel to Long Bien Market in Hanoi are motorbikes, taxis, and motorbike taxis. You can also take a bus to the market by looking for bus options on Google Maps, but be prepared for a little walk. However, the bus is out of the question fr going to the market early in the morning.
There are three parts of the entrance: the middle one is for buyers, cars, and motorcycles, and the two lanes on both sides are for loading and unloading products
The middle entrance is small and packed with people and different vehicles
Long Bien Wholesale Market in Hanoi arguably sells the cheapest products in the whole city, but they are only sold in bulk. The items sold here come directly from farmers in the adjacent areas, and its frequent shoppers are market retailers, street vendors, and restauranteurs. As a result, it makes the most sense to buy from here only when you need purchases in large quantities, as in at least 3kg of vegetables.
Long Bien Market goes beyond what meets the eye because not only is there the typical trading atmosphere of a local Vietnamese market, but you can also see first-hand how the fresh produce unloaded. Everything happens in a matter of a few hours as trucks arrive at the market and then leave for different places before a new day in Hanoi starts.
Cargos of all sizes are continuously brought to the market, most of them are carried by manual labor
We promise there are endless possibilities to be taken on camera. The downside, which can also be the most fun part, is that the lighting condition is not the best. Makeshift booths set up by plastic canvas and wooden sticks are only lit up by rows of light bulbs in the middle of the night. In addition, not everyone would agree to stop for a good second in the middle of their hectic work pace to pose for a photo. That is to say, Long Bien Wholesale Market in Hanoi is where you can put your photograph skills to the test and capture the most authentic moments of the locals.
You can find some interesting angles standing on the Long Bien Bridge
Check out more Places to Take Photos in Hanoi
Wear water-resistant boots and shoes: it is called the wet market for a good reason as there are puddles of all sizes on the street at all times, and because of this, you might want to leave home your cute sandals and choose water-resistant shoes or boots instead. Other than that, make sure also to wear warm clothes when it’s Hanoi’s winter months.
As the sun rises higher, the smellier it can get due to the humongous amounts of produce loaded and sold here.
Stay alert and stay safe: be careful with your phones, camera, and valuable items in the crowded situation of the market. Besides that, watch out for motorbikes and cars, and steer clear from where the trucks unloading.
Be respectful when taking pictures. Ask for permission first, especially when you want to take portraits. Some people hold a deep-rooted belief that being captured on camera will affect their sales of the day.
Bargaining is an essential skill when shopping at a Vietnamese market
The market is calmer as the sky gets brighter, and you still have a wide variety of products to choose from
Since you’ve made great efforts to wake up early to visit the market, make the most of your day by taking a comprehensive tour of Hanoi signature markets too. After visiting the Long Bien Market, make your way to the Quang Ba Night Flower Market in the West Lake area, which is also the most lively around 4 AM. When morning comes, you can visit Dong Xuan Market near the Old Quarter area in Hanoi.
Because of the odd visiting hours and the more than busy setup of the market, going to the Long Bien Wholesale Night Market in Hanoi may not the first thing that comes to your mind. However, the Long Bien market is a vital sight to see the unseen side of Hanoi and gain a deeper cultural understanding.
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© Written by Kim Hoang for itourvn.com