Exploring Ben Thanh Market: A Traveler's Essential Guide To Ho Chi Minh City

Wed Dec 27 2023

A Traveler's Guide To Ben Thanh Market In Ho Chi Minh City

Are you planning a trip to Ho Chi Minh City? You must visit Ben Thanh Market for its vibrant atmosphere and unique shopping experience. This historical landmark dates all the way back to the early 17th century, making it steeped in culture and history.

In this blog post, we will provide an essential guide to explore Ben Thanh Market like a pro! From geographical layout of the market and useful tips, you can rest assured that your travel in Ho Chi Minh City will be smooth-sailing with us as your navigator.

Our blog post not only entices visitors with hidden gems of the city but also provides insights on bargaining culture at Ben Thanh—making each journey through Vietnam unforgettable! Are you ready for the adventure? Let's start exploring Ben Thanh Market!

Key Takeaways

  • Ben Thanh Market is a cultural icon of Ho Chi Minh City, having served as a major livelihood provider since the early 17th century.
  • The market is divided into sections based on types of goods including fruits and vegetables, meat, fabric district, lacquerware art pieces and more.
  • Shopping in Ben Thanh Market provides tourists with an unforgettable experience due to the locals' friendly bargaining culture as well as their rich heritage and history.
  • Popular must - try food options at this famous market include Pho noodle soup, Banh Mi sandwiches, Curry dishes along with Fish Sauce for seasoning.
  • Practical tips for visitors include opening times & currency exchange information as well as safety precautions such haggling when necessary and selecting nearby accommodations or tourist attractions.

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History of Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is a cultural icon of Ho Chi Minh City, having served as a major livelihood provider since its inception in the early 17th century. The market started as a seasonal wet market created by street vendors to serve local residents and visitors who came from far away lands such as China, Japan and Thailand.

Over time, it has grown from an open-air marketplace into one of largest retail-shopping sites in Vietnam. In 1870, French colonialists oversaw the construction of Ben Thanh Market with brick and wood walls, creating more order to accommodate traders looking for inexpensive items or souvenirs to bring back home.

Fast-forwarding almost 150 years later – this vibrant commercial space became even brighter in 1971 when thousands of stalls are lit up during their annual Vietnamese New Year celebrations - attracting over 15 million tourists annually today! This remarkable journey showcases how the hard work put in by locals attracted various investments including electrical lighting which enhanced visitor experiences.

Fundamentally, Ben Thanh Market stands today for something greater than just trading goods; it’s also about preserving Hue culture through food festivals like Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) and other traditions that have been kept alive despite western influence on Asian cities such as Saigon (old name).

A visit to this bustling location is truly an insight into another way of life: you’ll observe what happens around daybreak onwards until well past nightfall– no wonder why millions continue coming back year after year!

Exploring the Market

Venture into the bustling heart of Ho Chi Minh City and uncover its hidden gems as you dive deep into Ben Thanh Market. Walk around at leisure or join a guided tour to find an array of unique products, sample exotic street food, and even pick up a few bargains!

Layout and sections

Ben Thanh Market is renowned for its unique, vibrant atmosphere that's perfect for travelers looking to dive headfirst into Ho Chi Minh City's culture. The expansive marketplace covers a whopping 30,000 square metres of bustling shops and eateries set over several floors.

It is divided into different sections and aisles, following a logical layout favoured by the locals. Van Creek Street crosses straight through the centre of the market dividing it into two parts: Tran Phu in the west and Le Loi in the east.

The first section sells fruit, vegetables, meat, fish - you name it! Eat your way through congee stalls before delving deep into the fabric district on Nguyen Cu Trinh street with hordes of silk and clothing choices at affordable prices.

Shopping experience

At Ben Thanh Market, shoppers can experience the quintessential thrills of a bustling market in Ho Chi Minh City. From silk garments to classic Vietnamese snacks, and anything else you may need or desire during your time in Vietnam’s largest city as a tourist – chances are you will find it here.

The market is split into sections based on types of goods; visitors with specific shopping needs should inquire about where to get what they are looking for, although it is also fun to explore each section's unique atmosphere while discovering local handicrafts and popular branded items.

Don't hesitate to negotiate prices when necessary, and take advantage of one-of-a-kind souvenirs ideal for remembrance from the area. With its variety of shops featuring delightful treats, fascinating merchandise such as jewelry crafted from ebony wood or lacquerware art pieces made locally by traditional craftsman – the expansive space at Ben Thanh ultimately presents an irresistible attraction and remarkable shopping experience that no other activity can provide!

Must-try food options

  1. Pho: a classic Vietnamese noodle soup often made with beef or chicken and traditional herbs and spices. Served traditionally with bean sprouts, lime wedges, and thinly sliced chili peppers as toppings.
  2. Banh Mi: a type of sandwich made from crunchy French bread filled with various proteins like pork, roasted duck, vegetarian tofu, pickled vegetables and seasonings.
  3. Beef Noodle Soup: a hearty soup that combines succulent slices of beef with rice noodles in a flavorful broth seasoned with herbs and spices.
  4. Spring Rolls: a popular snack that consists of fresh vegetables rolled up in thin rice paper wrappers and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Curry: an Indian-influenced dish that typically features savory ingredients such as onions, garlic, ginger, spices such as turmeric or cumin, vegetables or meat cooked in coconut milk for added flavor and creaminess.
  6. Fish Sauce: an essential condiment used in Vietnamese cuisine to add a subtle sweetness and salty flavor to dishes like phở and salads.
  7. Mazu: sometimes referred to as the Vietnamese sesame ball has a dark red center filled with black sesame seeds paired perfectly with smooth tender mochi dough on the outside for an ideal sweet treat perfect for any occasion or time of day!
  8. Motorbike Taxi: A unique local experience – hop onto the back of a motorbike taxi (spoken “xe om”). These are usually found near Ben Thanh Market entrances but you can also book one online ahead of time for convenience!

Practical Tips for Visiting

Make sure you know what to expect when visiting Ben Thanh Market for the best cultural experience; Everything from opening times to haggling, safety tips, and nearby attractions are key in having an enjoyable visit.

Opening times and currency exchange

Ben Thanh Market is open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm, seven days a week. It’s one of the busiest markets in Ho Chi Minh City, so it is best to visit during non-peak hours if possible.

Bargaining culture and safety tips

  1. When bargaining at Ben Thanh Market, it\'s important to remember that no price is set in stone and haggling is expected from tourists. Start by offering the lowest price you are willing to pay for an item and be prepared to negotiate back-and-forth until both parties agree on a suitable cost.
  2. Before committing to a purchase, make sure that any guarantees or warranties offered will still apply if you take your purchase outside of Vietnam – some shop owners may not honor these post-sale transactions depending on location.
  3. Be mindful of personal safety while wandering through the market areas, especially when negotiating for items late at night which can become crowded during peak hours or evenings when night markets open up nearby the main marketplace spotlights its attractions after dark as well. Keep valuables securely stored either close to body or locked away in lockers provided by vendors if available near where you\'re shopping for increased security against pickpocketing exposure risks which present themselves more prominently within larger market areas like this one than elsewhere around town generally speaking...
  4. Familiarise yourself with store locations beforehand using maps so as not get lost once there adventuring seeking something out amongst throngs jostling about stall fronts only further adding distraction potential senses overload muddle making navigation already potentially chaotic scene even harder figure way around without getting disoriented overwhelmed easily accessed visuals intelligence find specific vendors faster easier therein allowing spend less time orienting navigating focus more what searching after total whole sense extra brevity efficiency whilst ransacking bustling bazaars seeks throughout multiple levels ensure minimal distractions disturbances ill-fated events situations possibly arising occur instead lark finally hits must visit marks maps listercise!

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  1. For accommodations, popular choices include Dorm Hotel HCM which is located just a 5 minutes’ walk away from the market offering backpackers with dorm-style accommodation options at budget-friendly rates.
  2. Nearby attractions to visit in Ho Chi Minh City include:
  • War Remnants Museum – showcasing artifacts and stories illustrating the horrors of the Vietnam War, as well as more contemporary events such as war crimes trials;
  • Notre Dame Cathedral – a grand Catholic church built during France’s colonial rule;
  • Phan Boi Chau Street – an interesting street lined with coffee shops, souvenir stores and eateries serving authentic Vietnamese dishes;
  • Nguyen Hue Walking Street – where art pieces and performances create lively scenes that bring together locals and tourists alike;
  • Central Post Office – this century old building has been beautifully restored showcasing vibrant French Colonial architecture still standing in modern day Saigon;
  • Opera House - one of Vietnams most iconic performance venues displaying beautiful 19th century neo classical design ;
– Quan Am Temple – a Buddhist temple filled with vibrant colours, delightful seasonal decorations & towering golden statues for visitors to admire.


Ben Thanh Market is an essential part of the Ho Chi Minh City experience for any traveler. With its vibrant atmosphere and wide range of goods available, it's a great place to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture while picking up unique souvenirs or treats.

A must-visit attraction in the city, Ben Thanh Market offers a shopping experience unlike any other as you browse through colorful stalls full of locally made handicrafts, branded items, fabrics, and food.

It is also full of history; originally built in 1870 by the French colonial government and now owned by Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, it stands as an iconic symbol of reunification.

Whether you're looking for apparel or snacks on vacation or simply want to appreciate Vietnam's heritage firsthand - Ben Thanh Market has something for everyone!

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