Ben Thanh market – Charlies travel hotspots
I had some flashbacks to our trip to Ho Chi Minh city. Sitting desperately at the airport in Singapore forced to book a return ticket from Philippines which was to be our next destination from Singapore. We didn’t have a clue where we where going as we have no real itinerary but we found the cheapest flight to one of the closest countries. Vietnam.Hhaving been there before we weren’t that excited but it was still new territory since we where in the north of Vietnam last time. Ho Chi minh City was new ground to us. So be it.
We had done some researched before about the city and I was interested in knowing where to buy fabric and supplies. Where ever I looked we found Ben Thanh market.
First developed from street vendors that gathered here in the 17th century and formally established by the French colonial power in the late 19th century it was destroyed by a big fire and rebuilt and after that became the largest market in Saigon.
The Ben Thanh market is located perfectly in Saigons most lively areas just a few minutes walk from the busy backpacker area and shopping streets.
I figured this could be fun.
As you enter the market. No let me rephrase that. Before you enter the market you will be overthrown with people trying to sell sunglasses, bubblehead horses, food, drinks, taxi. Well, all kinds of things. As if you didn’t have a market in your target.
When you finally enter the gates of the market it is a jungle in there. But this is what makes it interesting.
There are some sections with fabric that I was looking for and a bonanza of souvenirs. But it is a labyrinth of corridors, gateways, paths and loop holes. And they will all try to get your attention. The sellers.
The sellers at the Ben Thanh market has developed their own technique in the way of handling customers. They have so many locals and tourists passing by each day and not all of them are planning or even thinking about making a stop at each shop. So if “come look my shop”, “madame buy something”, “what you looking for miss” or “here look scarf” doesn’t going to work they will use the card up their sleeve. They will grab your shirt or arm in order to get your attention, hoping you’ll turn around to see who’s calling for you (instant reflex of humans apparently). And when you turn around they will throw a scarf, bag or something else in your arms and ask if you want to buy. It has worked on many but not all.
I loved this after the first time. The first visit was a bit to much, but when you step aside and just watch it’s hilarious to see the chaos and the level of competition going on.
But there is more to the Ben Thanh market than just souvenirs, clothes, fabric and makeup. It is also a popular place for locals to eat and shop for groceries. The food served here is traditional Vietnamese food at a fraction of the price in the restaurants outside. Fresh juice are also to be found if you need to power up. We love Vietnamese coffee with sweet milk and ice so markets like this one is perfect for us since they sell them everywhere here.
The Ben Thanh market is one of my hotspots because it gives you the Vietnamese culture all under one roof and we love that.