Ben Thanh Market is an ancient market in Saigon and one of the top three destinations not to be missed when traveling to Saigon, along with the Independence Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral. The market has unique architecture and souvenirs bearing Vietnamese imprints.
History of Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is a large market located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. The market was built on the banks of the Ben Nghe River in the 17th century. After many restorations, Ben Thanh Market transformed itself into a solid and iconic building in Saigon.
Previously, the market was built with bricks, wooden slopes, and thatched roofs and located next to a river wharf near Gia Dinh Citadel. This river wharf was used to welcome visitors and soldiers into the citadel, so it was called Ben Thanh, and therefore, the market was also called Ben Thanh market.
By mid-1911, the Ben Thanh Market was in disrepair and in danger of collapsing. To avoid risks, the French chose the area around Bo Ret Pond (Marais Boresse), leveled it, and thereby built a new, more stable market. That is the location of Ben Thanh Market so far.
After more than 100 years of presence along with the changes in Ho Chi Minh City, the image of Ben Thanh Market is associated with generations of people here, bringing the magnificent beauty of the past and the dynamic rhythm of life today.
Scale of the Ben Thanh Market
With an area of more than 13,000 m2, Ben Thanh Market is a place to trade and exchange goods for the people of Saigon as well as the surrounding areas, with nearly 6,000 small traders and about 1,500 stalls. The market attracts thousands of tourists to visit and shop every day.
The market’s operating hours are from 7:00 to 19:00, and the night market area on Phan Boi Chau Street next to the market is open from 19:00 to 22:00.
The architecture of Ben Thanh Market
Through many restorations, Ben Thanh market has changed a lot, but the unique old architecture is still there. The market has four gates: the north gate, the south gate, the west gate, and the east gate. The South Gate is the main gate, with a clock tower with three faces, built according to French architecture; below are the words “CHỢ BẾN THÀNH”.
In addition, artisan Le Van Mau, a lecturer at Bien Hoa Fine Arts School in 1952, created bas-reliefs made of baked ceramic for each of the market’s main doors. The reliefs depict southern products.
What does Ben Thanh Market have?
When visiting and shopping at Ben Thanh Market, you can find a lot of items, from fashion, handicrafts, and fine arts, to household appliances, electronics, and souvenirs.
In addition, this is also a dry food paradise with all kinds of cakes, jams, and dried seafood, besides hundreds of fruits and agricultural products from the South, the West, and some other regions that are also gathered here. No need to go to all of Vietnam, you can still enjoy specialties everywhere right at Ben Thanh Market.
This interesting market is famous for its many delicious dishes, so it would be a mistake not to taste them. From main dishes such as vermicelli, broken rice, spring rolls, seven colors,… to desserts such as Saigon tea with a variety of colorful tea, banh beo, and all kinds of dishes like snails, etc. They are all very delicious and attractive, but the price is also quite affordable.
At night, the market is bustling with activity on the sides of Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Boi Chau streets.
The Ben Thanh night market has seafood, barbecue, and popular restaurants; beer shops; and very crowded bars, in addition to fashion and craft stands. Every evening, locals and tourists gather in the night market area to enjoy popular delicacies and immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of the “no-sleeping city”.
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