Cool Facts About Ben Thanh Market

Cool Facts About Ben Thanh Market

If you're looking for a bargain, this is the place to go. But you must learn the tricks first.
November 07, 2014 by Le Ngoc Ngan

It is not a coincidence that Saigonese people treat this market as one of the symbols of Ho Chi Minh City. It has gone through many ups and downs over the past century and has played a big role in Vietnamese history.

Ben Thanh market

The name Ben Thanh (Town Wharf) originated from its very first location by Ben Nghe River. Customers and soldiers first arriving in town stopped by this market at the wharf to enter the town.

Ben Thanh market

Ben Thanh market had existed long before the French invaded Vietnam. By 1911, the market had deteriorated, so the French settlers decided to choose a new site to rebuild it. And that place is where Ben Thanh market is now located. The building is very ornate, there are reliefs on the four gates, each of which represent goods that people sell in the market.

Ben Thanh market

Local people can find everything they need for their daily life: fresh vegetables, fish and meat, dried food and fruits, flowers, clothes, spices, and household items such as bamboo baskets, brooms, pots, etc.

Ben Thanh market

Tourists love to shop there to get local items as souvenirs or just to experience a new and interesting way of shopping. The most preferable items are coffee filters, embroidered hand purses or bags, and t-shirts. You will find it amusing if you play a little game with the sellers called 'bargain'. Sellers love to give you high prices and expect you to pay them twice more than the actual value of the item. To play the game, you should pretend like you do not need it, and tell them that you found the same item at another stall but with a cheaper price.

Vietnamese is really difficult to master, I know for a fact, so a symbolic gesture may help: point to another stall and tell them 'rẻ hơn!' (cheaper) or just offer them 50 – 70% of the price they gave, and start to walk away if they disagree. Sellers always have calculators with them in case they want to show you the exact price, you can use them too to give sellers your offer. You will find the same item in many nearby stalls so don't worry if you miss out your favorite deal!

Author: Lê Ngọc Ngân (Vietnam)