Ben Thanh Market is an emblematic landmark that you definitely should visit when coming to Ho Chi Minh City. This old market is not only the place to buy quality goods and lovely souvenirs but also the fascinating destination that expresses the true culture of Vietnam.
History of Ben Thanh Market
This old market has been a historical witness of the city for over a century. When Ho Chi Minh city was just a small town, it was a vital commerce center that locals sold everything from fresh vegetables to clothes. In the old time, it was next to a harbor on Ben Nghe river near Gia Dinh Citadel. For that reason, the name of the market is “Ben Thanh” (“Ben” means “harbor” and “Thanh” means “citadel”)
Originally built in the early 1800s but it was burned into the ground as was much of the city when the French began their occupation in 1859. The market had been gone through many time of reconstruction in other locations. In 1912, the French administration decided to rebuild the market in a new place where it continues to stand today.
From the wet market near the river 100 years ago, Ben Thanh has experienced many ups and downs throughout the Ho Chi Minh city history and now becomes the oldest symbol of the most dynamic city of Vietnam.
The architecture of Ben Thanh Market
The market was constructed by the Brossard et Maupin Construction Company. It is over 13,000 square meters large, has around 1,500 stalls selling a variety of items ranging from consumer to luxury products. There are four main entrances to the market, each facing one of the main streets of District 1: the southern gate overlooks the Quach Thi Trang Park, the eastern gate faces Phan Boi Chau Street; the northern gate overlooks Le Thanh Ton avenue and the western gate leads to Phan Chu Trinh street.
Ben Thanh Market has an iconic clock tower at the southern gate. It is surrounded by concrete awnings designed to protect the clock against the weather. In the clock tower, there is a small temple where market traders of the market come every day to pray for sales and prosperity.
What to do in Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is firstly well-known as the place for great Vietnamese food. There is a number of vendors and local food stalls in the market food section that offers guests dishes freshly made to the order. You can taste various kinds of local dishes such as Vietnamese noodle called Pho, Hu Tiu; Spring Rolls, Vietnamese pancake called Banh Xeo, etc. In the evening, while all stalls inside the market will closed, sidewalk restaurants around the market will open and make it extraordinary lively area. You can taste fresh seafood and enjoy a cool beer at cheap price.
Besides, you can find everything you need at this huge market from goods for daily use to eye-catching local handicrafts and souvenirs. Special products all over Vietnam are available here make Ben Thanh Market is shopping heaven for tourists. Bargaining is acceptable, so don’t hesitate to haggle the prices down.
When and how to go to Ben Thanh Market
This interesting market opens at around 6 am every day until the official closing time at 6 pm each evening. However, the outdoor Night Market in the streets surrounding Ben Thanh Market will start at 6 pm and close at 10 pm every day.
Ben Thanh Market is situated in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City - District 1. The market lies directly across from Ben Thanh Bus Station - a transport hub for the city's buses so you could easily go to Ben Thanh market by buses which is the cheapest transport vehicle. Another way to get to the market is by taxis or motorbike taxis - the most convenient method. And if you want to have a leisurely journey, take a cyclo. You can even hire yourself a motorbike or a bicycle to go there.
The prices named at Ben Thanh Market is often inflated up two or three times than what them normally do so you should have a good bargain skill. You should shop around about two or three stalls to compare prices of the similar goods to buy them with the most reasonable price.
Another tip is to go shopping in this market early in the morning because some traders offer a “morning price” for the first transactions of the day which is believed to bring them good luck. This price is a little lower than the usual for the same good.
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