Ben Thanh is the city's main market. Inside is a tightly organized grid of aisles, arranged according to product. Clothes, ... More
Cho Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh is the city's main market. Inside is a tightly organized grid of aisles, arranged according to product. Clothes, shoes and fabrics dominate the front, before giving way to kitchenware, cooked food, fresh vegetables and a somewhat alarming display of seafood and meat (some of it still alive). There is plenty for the visitor to buy, but the main attractions are the way in which the bustling market is still very much part of the city's life and economy and the delicious food it has to offer. The clock tower at the entrance of the market is considered the city's major landmark.
the traffic is crazy and there is no traffic light to cross the street to get there. the vendors physically grab you and they all have practically the same merchandise. you have to bargain which you don't have to do at other markets. basically, you want to run out of there wanting to scream "this sucks" after you get your fake Polo merchandise. the prices are too high and you don't know it cause u r a tourist. many other markets in hcmc.
You can find very good marchandises at a fraction of the price you pay at the more touristic spots on Dong Khoi street. You just have to look through the over stacked, over crowded aisles for something you like. But that's what made the experience at the same time charming and exciting: I found beautiful hand embroidered slide-in shoes, or handbag for $6-$10. I had previously paid $35.00 at Dong Khoi (fixed price), and one my friend paid $120 in SoHo, NY! After all, the latter had to pay for very high rent! Why wait, let's go !!!!!!
We visited Ben Thanh Market early on the first day of 2 week trip in Vietnam. Just after dawn, the city was already moving at a frenetic pace, taking maximum advantage of the relatively cool morning hours. I had planned to take many pictures of this landmark, but found it difficult to focus on a single subject amidst the frenzy of activity. No photo I took could begin to capture the vividness of mountains of fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables, or the freshness and variety of meat and fish being expertly processed by women squatting, knives in hand. (Note: squeamish folks beware.) There are innumberable stalls offering heavely meals prepared from these very freshest of ingredients. I chose beef pho (noodle soup)and received a massive bowl, accompanied by loads of fresh herbs. The stall lady saw me struggling with the various garnishes and condiments and took time to show me how to strip the herbs and place them in the bowl along with just the right amount of pepper sauce and lime juice. The bill came to 12,000 VND, or .80 USD. Thus fortified, we ventured further into the market, through extremely narrow aisles packed with clothing and shoes. My wife quickly found that the young women staffing these stalls were both persistent and physical salespeople - they had no qualms about grabbing her by the arm to get her attention! Don't miss this landmark if you are visiting Saigon; just make sure to get up early, and do as the locals do in taking a rest in the heat of mid-day.
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