Posted By : Threeland Travel / Vietnam Travel Guide
The local market is considered as the mirror reflecting the culture found in each region or each country as it has its own set of distinct characteristics, and visiting the local market will help you learn more about the daily lifestyle of the local people.
In Vietnam, we can’t figure out how many local markets available throughout the country because almost each village/ ward will have at least an own market selling fresh food and ingredients mainly for the citizens. Nevertheless, we still can list out some highlighted markets which are famous only for Vietnamese but also for the visitors like shopping during the trip in Vietnam.
1. Dong Xuan market (opening time: daily from 06:00 – 18:00)
Located in the heart of the Old Quarter in Hanoi, just walking distance from Hoan Kiem lake, Dong Xuan market, built by French since 1889, is one of the top attractions of the capital. Known as the largest indoor market of Hanoi, this is really a place to trade everything from fresh products, souvenirs, accessories and clothing, to the electronic and household appliances.
Wet market section where locals purchase fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables is on the ground floor while, the upper floors are for fabric, clothing, local handicrafts, souvenirs and much more, all available at wholesale prices. You also can find a wide ranges of delicious dishes, from Vietnamese style to famous street foods of other countries, not only in the market, but also in the surrounding area, which makes the market a food paradise for the locals and visitors.
In addition to the day market, Dong Xuan also has the night market, also known as Hanoi Old Quarter night market, held from 18:00 till midnight on every Fri, Sat and Sun. This market covers some main streets in Old Quarter from Hang Dao street to Dong Xuan market, selling numerous products from fabric, clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts to foods and beverages, which mostly serve the demand of the young locals and tourists.
2. Bac Ha market (early in the morning on every Sunday till noon)
One of the largest markets in Northern region of Vietnam, Bac Ha market takes place only once a week, on every Sunday morning. This special market is located in Bac Ha district, Lao Cai province (about 110km from Sapa town and about 70km from Lao Cai city center), held by the hill tribal people, mainly from Flower Hmong ethnical group. With dozens of tribes living in the surroundings, including Flower Hmong, Chinese, Nhang, Dzao, Nung, Phu La, Thai and King (or Viet), the market is extremely exciting, especially in the early morning.
Visiting this market, we can meet hundreds of beautiful women from Flower Hmong tribe, who are famous for their wonderful craft and hand-made flowering clothes and textile fabrics, or intermingle with people from Black Hmong, Dzay, Dzao and other ethnic groups coming to the market not for purchasing stuffs, but for meeting and chatting – just once a week - like in a real cultural center.
3. Dong Ba market (opening time: daily from 03:00 – 20:00)
Built over 100 years ago, Dong Ba market is considered as the oldest market in Hue city, with an old bell tower standing proudly amidst the complex of buildings. Covering almost 16,000 square meters, with several sections selling everything from fresh food, clothing to craft products, this market is one of the few shopping venues in Hue, attracting tourists looking to experience the local lifestyle and shop for souvenirs and street food. The ground floor provides a wide range of food and wholesales stuffs meanwhile the whole floor upstair is for garment and clothes.
When visiting Hue city, most of locals said that Dong Ba market is the best place to purchase the cultural gifts and unforgettable souvenirs to bring home, such as “non la bai tho” – conical hats with poem woven onto them, “me xung” – Hue traditional candies, Truoi berries, lotus seed of Tinh Tam lake … Additionally, you can find there all the best food of Hue: Bun Bo Hue, Com Hen – another famous dish…. which makes your trip become unforgettable.
4. Hoi An Central market (opening time: daily from 06:00 – 20:00)
Resting on the bank of Thu Bon river, Hoi An central market is certainly worth a look for its authentic slice of Vietnamese life and an ideal place for purchasing fresh fish as the fishermen come back to sell their morning harvest. Moreover, the market place also consists a vast array of the stuffs such as fresh food, local handicrafts … especially the spices and herbs which are well-known as special agricultural products of local villages in Hoi An.
Standing in heart of Hoi An town – the UNESCO World Heritage site, just few steps from the market, you will reach a wonderful range of shops for lanterns, soft silk, raw silk, then you can get your clothes tailored within a day.
Food court is also a must-stop place in the market where many traditional and famous dishes of Hoi An with reasonable price such as Cao Lau, banh Xeo, Che, … are waiting for you.
5. Ben Thanh market (opening time: daily from 07:00 – 19:00)
Similar to Dong Xuan market in Hanoi, Ben Thanh market is a must-visit place located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city, as not only a tourist attraction, it is also a historical witness of numerous ups and downs of the city for over 100 years.
With the design of 4 main entrances and 12 side doors emitting four directions, the market covers a total area of about 13.000m2, selling all sorts of items from fresh food and fruits to clothing, appliances, souvenirs, from budget to luxury. With the symbol of three-side clock tower, the south entrance is home of clothing and dry food meanwhile the north is a colorful place decorated by the fresh flowers and fresh fruits. If you look for the cosmetics and colorful candies to bring home, let have a visit to the east entrance. Finally, the west entrance brings us from footwear, handicrafts to souvenirs.
Certainly, the food court always plays an irreplaceable part in the market, where you can find a full range of traditional dishes all over the country. Aside from the inside area, the food court also has an outside part on the east and west entrances of the market, opening from dawn and being the most vibrant at nightlife, which is also known as the Ben Thanh night market. Discovering the street food/ local food at Ben Thanh market definitely becomes one of the most impressive things to do during the trip in Ho Chi Minh City.
6. Binh Tay market (opening time: daily from 07:00 – 19:00)
Unlike Ben Thanh market in center of Ho Chi Minh city, Binh Tay market is less visited than iconic Ben Thanh market because it mainly serves an extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam for the locals. Located in Cho Lon – the largest Chinatown district, the market has a mix of French and Chinese architecture with an airy outdoor space in the middle and decorated by a large rock cited the deserts of Quach Dam – who built the market. The market is recently under the renovation in 2016 which lasted about nearly 02 years.
Inside the market, it is found more than 2,300 divided into many groups of products, from spices, dried food, household goods … to an assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, and textiles that are sold in bulk. The local food is quite different to the other Vietnamese dishes that you have tried in other places thank to the influences of Chinese cuisine. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Chinatown, Binh Tay market is great place for visitors to experience the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
7. Cai Rang floating market (early in the morning, from 05:00 – 09:00AM)
Cai Rang floating market is considered as the largest floating market in Mekong delta. The market was initially formed by the locals to trade their products by the boat, because of the dense network of Mekong rivers and the undeveloped road traffic in the past. Located about 6km from Can Tho city, the floating market starts about 05:00 AM in the morning and each vendor will have their products hung on bamboo poles on their own boat so the locals and tourists can easily know the product sold on each boat. They mainly sell all kinds of fruits and vegetables, local products such as dried fish, coconut candy, fish sauce, milk and so on.
Not only having chance to see how people sell and buy products on floating market, you also can experience the rustic lifestyle of Vietnamese people by tasting countless street foods like noodles, rice, dried noodles and local drinks …. which are also served on boat, that brings you the feeling of a floating outdoor restaurant.
When you visit any local market in Vietnam, you should remember to bring the local cash (Vietnam Dong), instead of using the credit cards as most of them prefer trading by cash and no card machine is available there. One more thing is the bargain as you can negotiate for an agreeable price when you want to purchase something. And if you have any local friend, let ask them to go shopping with you because they can know the real price or help you bargain more useful.