8 Markets in Vietnam That You Will Love
No trip to Vietnam is complete until you’ve wandered through a local market. The sights, smells, and sounds will overwhelm your senses in the best way. Markets in Vietnam offer a unique view of the local culture. The market is the heart of the community. You can chat with vendors and ‘people watch’ the locals going about their days. It’s the kind of interaction that travel is all about!
Shopping at a market in Vietnam also supports the local economy. Doing your shopping with individual vendors rather than large corporations is a great way to be a responsible tourist. Of course, haggling is also a part of the culture at markets in Vietnam. Negotiating can be fun, and scoring a deal is always a thrill! Just don’t get too cutthroat in your bargaining. Remember that the person you’re haggling with is just trying to make a living. Do some research before you head in on what a fair retail price is. With a little patience and a good attitude, you should always be able to find a price you’re both happy with.
Here are 8 markets in Vietnam that we just know you’re going to fall in love with. Happy shopping!
1. Cho Xom Chiếu Market
Ho Chi Minh City
Cho Xom Chieu isn’t the most attractive market from the outside. The drab grey building is known as a bit of an eyesore. As the saying goes, though, don’t judge a book by its cover! The inside of Cho Xom Chieu is a jaw-dropping showcase of vibrant colours, warm sunlight, and cheerful atmosphere. It’s a charming sight.
Cho Xom Chieu is one of the largest markets in Ho Chi Minh City. It is divided into sections that make it easy to find what you’re looking for. Meat and fish are sold in the centre of the market. You can take your purchases home raw or have them cooked on the spot. Around the outskirts you’ll find all the street food stalls. This is always the most crowded area! Locals and visitors alike love the array of cheap, delicious Vietnamese food.
Be ready to bargain when you’re shopping at Cho Xom Chieu. The vendors are known for high starting prices. They aren’t aggressive sales people though. The market’s high ceilings give it the hushed, calm ambience of a cathedral. You will be left to roam the aisles freely. It’s a great place to soak in the sights and smells, and maybe take some photos.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 5am – 11pm
2. Saigon Square
Image courtesy of Akrosdayunibers
Saigon Square is Vietnam’s answer to overpriced, flashy shopping malls. It’s an indoor market dressed up to look like a mall. This air-conditioned shopping haven is nicknamed “VIP Market.” Locals and travelers flock here for the great deals. Prices are cheap to begin with, and you can bargain for even better discounts.
This clean, comfortable market has everything under the sun. As you wander through you’ll see trendy clothes, cool gadgets, gaudy souvenirs, fancy watches, and more. In fact, we recommend knowing what you’re looking for before you set foot in Saigon Square. Otherwise you’re likely to get overwhelmed and leave with a lot of impulse purchases!
You’ll get a sense of déja vu as you pass stall after stall selling the same items. The game here is to play the field. Find the vendor that will agree to the best price on the thing you’re looking for. Watch out for fake goods, though! Those cute leather sandals might actually be plastic sprayed to smell like genuine leather. Not all vendors are out to deceive you, though. Most are friendly and offer awesome service. In fact, if you like a pair of real leather sandals and they don’t have your size, they can make you a custom pair in 24 hours!
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 9am – 9pm
3. Dong Ba Market
Image courtesy of Vietnam Travel Blog
Dong Ba Market sees between 5000 and 70000 customers visit every day! It’s the largest market in Thua Thien-Hue Province. Dong Ba Market sits on the north bank of the Huong River. It takes up 16,000 square metres and has sections for everything from clothing to seafood. An old bell tower stands proudly above the sprawling collection of buildings. The attraction here isn’t the architecture, though, it’s the bustling atmosphere.
Dong Ba Market is worth a visit for the glimpses of local culture and tastes of local specialties. This is the best place in Hue to pick up unique local souvenirs. If you’re looking for a memento of your trip, we suggest a non la bai tho. That’s one of the traditional cone-shaped Vietnamese hats, with a poem woven into the design. They’re made in Phu Cam Village. You could also go for some Truoi berries, Tuan tea, tom chua (Hue Sour Shrimp), or lotus seeds from Tinh Tam lake.
Even if you’re just looking for something to eat, Dong Ba Market will exceed your expectations. There are many local delicacies to try. If you happen to visit during Lunar New Year, look out for banh bo. This rare treat is a multi-coloured sticky rice cake topped with sweet, chewy air bubbles that look like honeycomb. It’s said to melt in your mouth. At any time of year you can find pho noodles, shrimp cakes, mussel rice, keo me xung (Vietnamese candies), and much more.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6am – 10pm
4. Ben Thanh Market
Image courtesy of Vietnam World Heritages
Ben Thanh Market is a bustling market in the daytime and a social hub after sunset. It’s found in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. The market is a famous symbol of the city and a must-see for any visitor. The best time to visit is early in the morning, before 8:00 if possible. As the day goes on the heat sets in and makes wandering the aisles much less enjoyable. As well, vendors tend to offer better “morning prices”. Later in the day, prices are marked up 2 to 4 times higher. Of course, like at all Vietnamese markets, the listed price is just a starting point for negotiations.
Ben Thanh Market has a long history. It was built by the French in the 17th century. At the time they called it Les Halles Centrales. The name was changed to Ben Thanh in 1912. Considering its age and the things it’s been through, like a major fire in 1870, the market building is incredibly well preserved.
The market is located in the heart of the city at the intersection of several major roads. It’s always bustling with energy. Ho Chi Minh City locals come here for one-stop shopping. You can find household staples, textiles, clothing, shoes, textiles, gadgets, and more all under one roof. Tourists come here for all of the above and the delightful variety of souvenirs and Vietnamese art and handicrafts.
The shops and stalls inside Ben Thanh market shut down in the late afternoon, but the food scene stays live at all hours. Ben Thanh is known as the place to go in Ho Chi Minh City for authentic, delicious Vietnamese food. Dishes are prepared fresh to order. Try local dishes like banh xeo (crispy pancakes), banh cuon (savory rolled cakes), banh beo (savory rice cakes), cha gio (egg rolls), or hu tiu (noodle soup). Whatever you eat, be sure to wash it down with some cheap beers. Sit back and enjoy the dazzling lights and music.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6am – 12am
5. Ba Chieu Market
Image courtesy of DH Travel
Ba Chieu Market is one of the oldest shopping centres in Ho Chi Minh City. It first opened its doors in 1942. It was renovated in 1987, but held onto its vintage charm. The maze of stalls will appeal to any photographer or wanderer. This is also the spot for you if you need to do some shopping on a tight backpacker budget! Everything and anything is available here, and can be yours for a low price.
The fun part of shopping at Ba Chieu Market is the haggling. Bargaining is expected, so go ahead and test your skills. If you’re good at it, you might be able to walk away with your prize at half the original price. It really might be a prize, too! Ba Chieu Market has a few specialties. One is the street food. It’s known as some of the best in Ho Chi Minh City.This is a great place to sample some of the Vietnamese snacks you’ve had your eye on.
Ba Chieu Market is also the city’s best destination for fashion. There are stalls upon stalls of clothes. Some are new, and some are awesome secondhand finds. Clothing makes its way here from all over the world. You’ll find designer labels and rare pieces hidden away on the racks and tables. Just be prepared to stand your ground. Ba Chieu Market is very centrally located, so it attracts the masses. The building is crowded all day long, and especially packed at night.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6am – 12am
6. An Dong Market
Ho Chi Minh City
Image courtesy of One Vietnam
An Dong Market is a nondescript, traditional Vietnamese building. From the outside, it’s no different than any other market in Ho Chi Minh City. Inside, it’s a thriving market with something for everybody. An Dong Market has been operating since 1954. It offers retail and wholesale goods, and is especially known for its fashion selection. You won’t believe the bags, shoes, jade pieces, handicrafts, clothing, and accessories that can be found here.
The ground floor is a food court. Food is sold in bulk. As soon as you set foot in the building, your senses will be overwhelmed. That smell in your nostrils is probably shrimp – many stalls are cooking them up to order. Take a lap to sample some snacks and line your stomach for your shopping adventure.
The next level up is a haven for shoe lovers. As you browse the stalls you’ll see sandals, running shoes, formal shoes, kids’ shoes, high-heels, and so on. Footwear fills every inch of the aisles and alleyways. Clothing is sold on the third and fourth floors. Again, everything you can imagine is here: shirts, pants, suits, underwear, athletic apparel, formal dresses, jeans, socks…
Knowing some of the local language is always helpful when haggling at a market. The An Dong area has a large Chinese-Vietnamese population, so at this particular market a little Cantonese could also be useful! If somehow you can’t find what you’re looking for in An Dong Market, you can try your luck down the road at An Dong Plaza (or “An Dong 2”). This more modern shopping centre holds hundreds of clothing shops, as well as stores for household goods, furniture, lighting, and such. If you find yourself shopping into the night, you can check out America Discotheque. It’s the largest nightclub in Vietnam, right inside the plaza.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 7am – 6pm
7. Dinh Cau Night Market
Image courtesy of Phu Quoc City
Dinh Cau Night Market in Duong Dong Town, Phu Quoc, is a downtown hub. Locals and visitors gather here for great shopping, food, and drinks. The market is just down the street from Dinh Cau (Cau Temple), hence the name. The stalls open for the night at 5pm and wind down around midnight. There are hundreds of stalls. Each has an eye-catching display of jewelry, crafts, or souvenirs.
Dinh Cau is best known for its food, though. As you turn onto the street you the aroma of grilled seafood will waft over you. Stalls are overflowing with an abundance of freshly caught seafood. A brazier grill is fired up in front of each one. Take your pick from the selection of fish, sea snails, crabs, and scallops. Prices are set and clearly displayed, so there’s no need to haggle. This is one of the most affordable places to sample Phu Quoc’s seafood. Some dishes you shouldn’t miss are the steamed squid with Phu Quoc fish sauce, the flower crabs cooked with noodles, and the grilled sea urchin.
Once you’ve had your fill, you can get back to shopping. The most unique goods at Dinh Cau Night Market are the jewelry made from local pearls, shells, and natural stones. All the pearl products sold here are locally sourced. They make great souvenirs or gifts. There are over 500 stalls in the market, so take your time and do some browsing before you commit to a purchase.
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5pm – 12am
8. Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An’s Central Market is one of the best markets in Vietnam. It sits right on the bank of the Thu Bon River. A stroll through the market is a total immersion into Vietnamese life. Rich smells of herbs and spices will fill your nose, and vibrant colours will catch your attention from every direction. Run your hands over piles of smooth Vietnamese silk while you listen to the chatter of vendors and locals going about their daily shopping.
Prices tend to be more inflated at the stalls by the entrances, so make your way further into the building for the best deals. Hoi An Central Market has some unique goods that you won’t find at other markets. The fish is extremely fresh because of the riverside location. Rare spices like saffron and cinnamon, or exotic fruits and vegetables, can also be found.
Beyond the food, Hoi An Central Market is also renowned for its tailors. An entire section of the market is devoted to them. This is the cheapest place in Hoi An to get custom tailoring done. The market tailors use the finest silk and textiles to create dresses, shirts, jackets, or full suits to order. Most projects can be completed within 24 hours. You can also pick up a variety of souvenirs and local crafts here.
The market gets very busy and crowded, so it’s best to go early in the morning. The fishermen usually drop off their catch of the day around 7am, and that’s when the bargaining begins. Be warned, this can get messy – but it’s a sight you shouldn’t miss.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, 6:30am – 12am
Watch this video to get an idea of what to expect when you visit Hoi An Central Market:
Helpful articles and blog posts on markets in Vietnam:
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following are our top picks for articles worth reading about markets in Vietnam.
- My Top 5 Markets in Saigon by Vietnam Coracle
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Tips for Saigon by Ian Caruth & Rosie Pelka
- Dong Ba Market in Hue by MYVIDEOMEDIA
- Ho Chi Minh Day 1: Silverland Central Hotel & Ben Thanh Market by Madeline
- An Dong Market by Neil Sargent
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