Ben Thanh Market is the most famous shopping destination for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City, featuring every type of souvenir the spending traveler desires to buy. The attraction is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and an important landmark of the city.
Ho Chi Minh City's traditional Ben Thanh Market sells everything in a packed grid of retailers. Clothes and fabric in front give way to kitchenware and souvenirs, backing on to food and produce. Be prepared as sellers here are particularly intense.
However, there are cheaper markets in town, but Ben Thanh's history and central Saigon location make it the most popular shopping opportunity for travelers. You can always get cheap prices and the best deals with some bargaining or if you purchase several items at once.
There is no doubt that Ben Thanh Market is one of the best tourist attractions in HCMC. There are over 3,000 vendor stalls in Ben Thanh. Ceramics, clothes, watches, lighters, t-shirts, coffee, handbags, shoes, conical hats, custom made suits and dresses, and Vietnamese fare such as noodle soup and fruit smoothies are sold here.
Both vendors inside and hawkers outside Ben Thanh Market are somewhat aggressive so you should get used to politely declining or ignoring their frequent terse sales pitches. It is always best to explore the different shops first and hunt for the best deals instead of buying at first sight, to get what you like at a cheap price.
If you are shopping for an authentic gift or a souvenir to bring back home, you can also read our guide about the “Top 7 Souvenirs to Buy in Vietnam” before you head out hunting for affordable keepsakes. For souvenirs of higher quality, take a stroll along Le Loi street or head to Dong Khoi street for the pricy stuff.
The vendor stalls at Ben Thanh Market close between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. While the indoor stalls shut down, the streets on both sides get very busy. People are setting up the night market, which offers mainly souvenirs, t-shirts and food. As every Asian night market, it’s an exciting shopping opportunity.
In the evening the place is very busy. Not only the sellers will address you to buy various items, but also street vendors with hawker’s trays are trying to sell various items like postcards, lighters and bracelets.
The market was first created as an informal gathering of street vendors near Saigon River. After the French colonial powers took over Gia Định citadel in 1859, they formally established Ben Thanh Market. In 1870, a fire destroyed the market and after it was rebuilt, it was and stayed the largest market in Saigon.
In the year 1912, they moved the whole market to a new building and named it "The New Ben Thanh Market", to distinguish it from its older brother. The building was renovated in the year 1985.
Ben Thanh Market is not only an important traffic node in District 1, right opposite of the popular shopping attraction across the roundabout, you find a big bus station from where you can catch a bus to all districts of Ho Chi Minh City.
Ben Thanh is also one of the big stations of the upcoming subway. Line 1 of the "Ho Chi Minh City Metro", which is currently under construction, will connect Ben Thanh with Long Binh and Suoi Tien Park in District 9. Other planned lines will connect the station with Cholon, Binh Tan District and Tham Luong in District 12.
Yersin Market aka Dan Sinh Market offers industrial equipment, camping gear and some military equipage at affordable prices.
Binh Tay Market is the central market of Cho Lon and before Tet holiday, the whole area turns into a colorful place to shop for lucky symbols. Binh Tay is on average cheaper than Ben Thanh.
The Flower Market is even more colorful and there are more flowers offered at the many stalls than you can imagine.
The Russian Market is a place where you can buy winter clothing if you plan a trip to the North.