The market is the perfect place where you can not only haggle for some nice local merchandise but also blend in with the locals and experience the real Vietnam. There are three markets in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and you can buy pretty much anything you ever wanted: street food, fruits, veggies, candy, rice, old military gear, clothes and so on.
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh Market is without a doubt Vietnam’s most popular market. Located in District 1, just west end of Le Loi, it’s easily recognizable by its clock tower on the large traffic circle. The building is one of the oldest in the city and is considered a symbol of Saigon.
Tourists come here for local souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles, as well as local cuisine. The items are not price-marked and as a tourist you will generally have to pay 50-100% more than the locals. But if you like to haggle, the skill will sure come in handy here.
When buying clothes just remember that sizes are much smaller than what you are used to back in the States (if you wear M in the States you’ll find that the Vietnamese L is pretty snug!). So if possible wear something light and try the clothes on before purchasing.
Night Market stands just outside Ben Thanh Market and opens around 5 PM when the other market closes. It’s popular for the food and drink but you can do quite a lot of shopping as well. The prices are far better during the night than during the day so if you are one of the night-owls you will definitely go home with a lot of souvenirs.
War Surplus Market
Also called the American Market, War Surplus Market is filled with old American military gear, cheap t-shirts and other not-so-authentic souvenirs. You can find anything here from zippo lighters, to dog tags, flack jackets, shell casings and ex-military clothing and equipment.
Just make sure not to buy anything that might be considered a weapon since you won’t be able to take it with you in the plane and you’ll have a lot of trouble explaining why you carry it with you.
Photo by: flydime