Ho Chi City's markets

When in Ho Chi Minh City, think market - think Ben Thanh! Ben Thahn market faces one of the busiest jubctions in Saigon

In District 1, not far from the main tourist area, Ben Thanh is the largest market in Saigon and one of its main attraction. It sells almost everything - food, clothes, jewellery, live snakes, vehicle spares, medicine, and much, much more. It's popularity means prices are higher than elsewhere, but the experience is worth it.

The markets are always busyIts narrow aisles are a shoppers paradise, providing you're not claustrophobic or not keen on haggling. Ask the price (the vendor will probably use a calculator to show you) and offer around half the amount.

Don't worry about a low bid - stall holders love negotiating and would be up set if you give up too early.

Some of the goods on sale are imported and some are smuggled.

There's a person in there somewhereMany are fakes, so apply common sense - finding a genuine article on the luxury goods stalls would be like picking up a gold bar on the pavement.

If the noise and crowds get to be a bit much, there's a 'food court' in the centre. Dozens of small stalls offer a bewildering range of food at next-to-nothing prices. Don't hope for burgers or doughnuts, though - it's basic Vietnamese cuisine only!

Cholon, once the original Saigon, is Ho Chi Minh City's 'Chinatown'. Although the majority of Chinese traders left Vietnam at the end of the war, it's still a major commercial area with several markets.

The largest is the huge An Dong market and its more recent partner, the An Dong II. Like Ben Thanh, the range is enormous - fruit, vegetables, cigarettes, beer, silk and so on.

Binh Tay is well worth a visitIn the same area but more interesting is Binh Tay market. The building is a delightful mustard-colour oriental extravaganza.

It rekindles the ambiance of old Saigon and sells vast range of traditional household items as well as well as the usual goods.

Back in the city centre, Dan Sinh Market (also known as the War Surplus Market) is the place to shop for war memorabilia.

However, don't expect the real thing - nearly all the real stuff is long gone. Electronics items, domestic appliances and similar goods are on sale.

Huynh Thuc Khang Street, between Ben Thanh market and Dong Khoi, is more of an odds and end market selling items like posters of Ho Chi Minh, mosquito repellent, Chinese-made ‘Swiss’ army knives, and so on.


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