It is evident to say that: Market is one of the must-see places for any travelers who want to understand more about the local culture of any destination. It is because markets will show you the most bustling and hustling faces of the locals’ normal life.
Going to Vietnam, some tourists look for a modern Vietnam with busy touristy areas while others are so in love with an authentic Vietnamese atmosphere like markets as they truly want to bring home some things of Vietnam as souvenirs. if you are of the latter groups, you should not skip visiting 8 best markets in Vietnam below. Some useful tips will be also given in the end, so keep reading till the end!
8 Must-visit Markets in Vietnam
1. Hoi An Central Market (Hoi An)
Highlights: Hoi An is famous for its various markets, each has its own reputation. However, traveling to Hoi An, tourists cannot miss its central market, which is definitely the largest and liveliest one.
Together with other markets, this market tremendously helps to form Hoi An’s commercial values and spirit. About 600 years ago, in the 15th century, Hoi An used to be the trading center of the Cham Empire (a MalyoPolynesan person once took over the lower and coastline parts of Vietnam). One century later, under the orders of Lords Nguyen, it became an international commercial port and was soon considered vital to Southeast Asia’s trading activities.
In these days, even though Hoi An has declined in its trading values (but increased in its touristy values), the commercial spirit here remains intact.
Hoi An was recognized by UNESCO as one of the World’s Cultural Heritages, thanks to two reasons, one of which is being “an exceptional example of Asian traditional trading port which is perfectly preserved”. Therefore, visiting Hoi An, tourists are highly recommended to visit its wide range of markets, especially the central one.
In Hoi An Central Market, tourists are likely to find a plethora of food, from the fresh ones to the cooked ones.
What to buy:
There are various meat in Hoi An Central Market, from pork, poultry to beef, and greens, various too. All are fresher than those in supermarkets, like any other normal markets you can find in Vietnam. However, if you want to see some interesting scenes, you are suggested to come to the river as early as around 4 to 5 a.m every morning. By doing that, you will be able to see the fish delivery scene.
What’s more, tourists can also purchase fish stocks, crustaceans, even superb prawns, small sharks and so on, all of which are ultra-fresh. Sometimes they are still alive, at the most reasonable price. People can also buy daily goods, flowers and roughly anything for self-catering in Hoi An as this market is truly a treasure-house for consumers.
Moving on to the cooked ones, the Central Market food court would be an ideal choice for people wanting to eat out. This food court opens from 6 a.m to 6 p.m, which means you can spend all day enjoying the food here, from trying a wealthy traditional breakfast to eating stuff while wandering in Hoi An Central Market.
For the first time being here, tourists are suggested to try Hoi An’s signature food, such as: Cao Lau (special rice noodles with marinated pork, vegetables and a little soup), Mi Quang (Quang Noodles – a typical combination of delicious soup, quail eggs, shrimps and pork ), Banh Xeo – Vietnamese pancake (pork, shrimp, herbs and vegetables, mixed and wrapped in a rice pancake), White Rose (it is not a flower, of course, it is a steamed dumpling with prawn), etc.
Things to note:
What is so pleasing is that even Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s most famous tourist attractions, the goods’ price in this Central Market is appropriate. A bowl of Cao Lau is expected to be paid no more than 30,000 VND (~$1,5), fruit juices also come at a reasonable price of about 15,000 VND (~$1),… The vendors here offer you all the best cuisine, both regionally and internationally at such a good price.
Location: Tran Quy Cap street, Cam Chau, Hoi An, Quang Nam
Opening hours: 6 a.m to 6 p.m
2. Hanoi Weekend Night Market (Hanoi)
Highlights: Held within Hanoi Old Quarter, from Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc Square to Dong Xuan Market’s gate, this bustling market presents tourists a different face of solemn Hanoi, an energetic face. Opening every evening from Friday to Sunday, Hanoi weekend night market (also known as Old Quarter Night Market) becomes a relaxing area for locals and travelers to Hanoi. As in the weekend, some roads here will be blocked off to transportation, visitors can meander around the streets while enjoying this market’s goods, food and music performances.
What to buy: Visiting Hanoi, it would be a loss not mentioning its cuisine. Being here, travelers can try a variety of Vietnam delicious dishes, from the famous Pho (special vermicelli soup) to Banh Mi (Vietnamese Best Sandwich), Bun Cha (Grilled Pork with Vermicelli) and so on. Moreover, if you want to take something home as a souvenir, there are a lot of cultural-reflected stuff sold in this market. Tourists can purchase 3D Pop-up Cards, which resemble Vietnam Famous Attractions or typical plants and images, or inexpensive T-shirts printed Vietnam scenery and so on.
Things to note: Old Quarter Night Market thrives on Saturday nights. Often in these evenings, there would be live performances or different artworks being demonstrated, which attracts thousands of visitors coming to Hanoi Old Quarter. Taking part in these art activities, tourists can expect to enjoy not only Vietnam modern music but sometimes also the traditional ones, which makes wandering around the market even more relaxing and lively.
Location: Hang Dao Street, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Opening hours: 6 p.m to 0 a.m
3. Dong Xuan Market (Hanoi)
Highlights: Dong Xuan Market was built in 1889 in the French colonial period, following the order of the French administration. At that time, Dong Xuan Market was one of the principal new architectures in Hanoi.
Nowadays, this market is well-known for being the largest and most famous trading area in Hanoi, specializing in providing wholesale products. Dong Xuan Market’ s diversity is undeniable and sure to satisfy any interests, any requests.
What to buy: Tourists can find anything in this hustling crowded market, from dried food to fresh ones, items to clothes, daily stuff to spectacular wooden art statues,… Even for tourists who have just come to Dong Xuan Market for the first time, it is difficult to get lost as in there, each kind of goods has its own purchasing area, divided depending on the goods’ size as well as utility. This makes the market truly convenient for consumers to find and buy goods.
However, what makes Dong Xuan Market an interesting place is not only the market itself. It is partly thanks to the market’s surrounding bustling alleys, in which hundreds of stalls are located.
Things to note: As mentioned above, Dong Xuan Market is specialised in selling wholesale; therefore, it would be a bit difficult for tourists to buy things in just a small number or amount. Surrounded alleys solve this problem, not only offer daily goods, these vendors also sell delicious cuisine, making this area both a consuming and a traditional eating area.
Location: Dong Xuan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Opening hours: 8 a.m to 6 p.m
4. Binh Tay Market (Big Market – Chợ Lon) (Ho Chi Minh City)
Highlights: Even though this is one of the most famous markets in Ho Chi Minh City, little is known about its history. As rumors go, Binh Tay Market – Cho Lon was built, or at least mostly invested by a Chinese businessman, called Guoyan (Vietnamese name: Quach Đam). He did this to support his trading career as well as the regional purchasing scene.
Located in Vietnam’s Chinatown, tourists can easily find the market having unique patterns mixed by Vietnamese as well as Chinese style. The Chinese style blends into the daily life of residents here, making this Chinatown, not a cute Chinatown often found in the world but a “real” Chinatown.
What to buy: Binh Tay Market, unlike Ben Thanh Market which is so famous and touristy, is less bustling, offers locals a wide range of goods with its two-storey building constructed along Thap Muoi Street.
Similar to other Vietnamese markets, you can find famous cuisine as well as popular goods here. However, what makes this market standing out is that in the middle of the market, there is a stone altar honoring Guoyan – Quach Dam.
Location: 57a Thap Muoi Street, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 6 a.m to 7 p.m
5. Ben Thanh Market (Ho Chi Minh City)
Highlights: Among markets in Vietnam, Ben Thanh market seems to be the most famous. Initially created by a group of vendors gathering together in the 17th century and then officially established by the French in 1859, Ben Thanh market is the oldest market remained in Ho Chi Minh City. After several ups and downs, this Ben Thanh Market today is the new one, located in a new place and was called the New Ben Thanh Market.
What to buy: Like Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, Ben Thanh Market is the largest market in Saigon. Apart from numerous goods that can be found here, this market is also an appropriate point for food-explorers. There will be arrays of food stalls here waiting to serve you the most delicious dish, which would be cooked right in front of you after ordering.
Location: Le Loi street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening Hours: 6 a.m to 0 a.m
6. Ho Thi Ky Flower Market (Ho Chi Minh City)
Highlights: This market acts as the flower provider for roughly all wholesale sellers and individuals in Ho Chi Minh City. For the first time being there, tourists are highly likely to be overwhelmed by this market’s beautiful scenery. Thousands and thousands of pills of flowers are harmoniously ordered, making the scenery like a colorful tremendous garden. Therefore, a large number of people, even though do not have the intention of buying flowers, still, come there to immerse themselves in the positive energetic atmosphere.
What to buy: Flowers, of course. The flowers here are from various sources, from Da Lat (well known as “The City of Thousands Flowers”, located in a mountainous area near central Vietnam), Mekong Delta (a vast fertile area, being famous for highly-qualified agricultural products) and other parts of Vietnam as well as the world.
Each day, Ho Thi Ky Flower Market attracts thousands of tourists as well as consumers from countless walks of life. It is understandable as most people want their house to be as beautiful as possible and, of course, fresh flowers is absolutely a good ornament.
Location: Alley 52, Ho Thi Ky, Ward 1, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: all day long
7. Nha Trang Night Market (Nha Trang)
Highlights: Being one of the most beautiful cities and tourist attractions in Vietnam, it is reasonable that Nha Trang has its own Night Market. Like any other night market, Nha Trang Night Market is superb active at night; however, it distinguishes itself from other counterparts by its wide range of specialties.
What to buy: All kinds of goods such as clothes, household goods, souvenirs, and food. In the market, “Bun Cha Sua” – Rice Vermicelli with Jellyfish Soup is a must-try. People can find without difficulties “Bun Cha Ca” – Rice Vermicelli with Fish Soup in almost every place of Vietnam; however, finding “Bun Cha Sua” is really a daunting challenge. If “Bun Cha Ca” is made from pork bones broth and fish, “Bun Cha Sua” is made from jellyfish broth and steamed jellyfish, together with various ingredients like: crab meat, shrimps,… in order to create the most satisfying dishes for culinary travelers.
In addition, tourists should also try “Banh Can” – a Vietnamese mini pancake with herbs, rice flour, eggs and squid or shrimp. This Vietnamese traditional food would definitely blow tasters’ mind.
Location: 78 Tue Tinh, Loc Tho, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province
Opening hours: 6 p.m to 0 a.m
8. Dinh Cau Night Market (Phu Quoc Island)
Highlights: Similar to Hanoi Old Quarter Night Street, this largest street on Phu Quoc Island offers travelers a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere as around 5 p.m, all motorized means of transportation would be made outside the market area.
What to buy: Hanging out around Phu Quoc night Market, visitors will have a chance to choose the perfect souvenirs for their friends and family, as well as enjoy a wealthy dinner. Tourists will find hundreds of stalls here, in which provides various kinds of seafood. Each type of sea creature is kept alive in a separated glass bank, allowing culinary customers to see and choose their most favorite creature. After choosing, the chosen one will be prepared, cooked and then served to you. As a result, all the food that you eat will be as fresh as possible. However, because this night market is such a touristy place, the food prices here would be about 30 percent higher than that of other restaurants in other parts of the island.
Location: Vo Thi Sau Street, Duong Dong, Phu Quoc Island
Opening hours: 4.30 p.m to 3 a.m
Useful Tips for Travelers
As these markets listed above are all well-known places for both locals and foreigners, be ready and prepared as you will have to immerse yourself in such a big crowd.
Regrettably, due to these crowded situations, there will be some pick-pockets. Thus, carefully keep your eye on your belongings.
There will be some “street children” begging you for small bills, and it is up to you to give them or not.
Do not hesitate to bargain as if you are lucky, some vendors will sell you the goods at half price. (But let’s start the haggling at an ideal 75-percent-off price, then gradually raise the price up)
Tourists are advised to go with at least a local as they will help you learn a lot about the bargaining arts.
Markets in Vietnam will truly offer you views on a multitude of Vietnamese aspects. Going to these markets if you want to discover this country’s normal life, and of course, if you want to bring home some souvenirs for your unforgettable experience in Vietnam.
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