Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Vietnam - Night Market (Ho Chi Minh city)

I have visited several night markets in some cities in Asia and among them I found Ben Thanh night market as the most shoppers-friendly.

The roads are wide thus it is very convenient to roam around due to extra elbow room unlike in Petaling Street of Kuala Lumpur where you sometimes need to stand-aside to give way to other shoppers. The roads are design for two-way vehicle traffic during daytime while during evening they are open for motorbikes only.

The brightly-lit stalls or booths are equally spaced and allocated. Street vendors are minimal. The locals  are very friendly and not aggressive thereby increasing your confidence to haggle.

The stall or shop owners will start putting-up their tents and wares at 6 PM. At 7 PM, most of the shops are already open for business especially the food shops or eateries. By this time, Ben Thanh market is already closed except those stalls at the outer back side.


Actually, the night market is made up of two parallel streets at both sides of Ben Thanh market. That is the main drawback, you need to walk around one hundred meters before you reach the other side of the night market. Other than that, you will find this place ideal for night shopping and dining.

It was very creative to have the grill or barbeque station just beside the dining area. Shoppers will be enticed to dine here once they see those large and fresh seafood and meats on top of fiery charcoal while savoring their aroma.

Like in any Asian market, haggling is widely practiced in Ben Thanh night market. Prices are normally inflated so it is advisable to start haggling at 50% of the price. However, be aware always of the exchange rate. I got confused and end up paying 200,000 Dongs for a good quality Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt. Nevertheless, I got even with those painted wooden house decors and other souvenir items.

There is a sign regarding pickpockets and bag/camera snatchers inside Ben Thanh market but due to wide roads along the night market, I doubt whether those "guys" can practice their skills on night shoppers.


If there is such a thing as laid-back night markets then this night market is one of them. Both shoppers and tourists are relax while roaming around the market. Gone is the hustle and bustle mood you normally experience in other night markets though I could say that the merchandises are not that diverse. It's not a big deal because you can simply drop by at Ben Thanh market or nearby Saigon Square during daytime in case you need to do some serious shopping. Added attraction is the authentic and affordable local cuisine. I love their Pho or rice noodles with seafood.

You can easily reach this place by taxi. In our case, wife was with me, Ben Thanh was two blocks away from our hotel, Hoang Hai Long 1.

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