Ben Thanh Market – Ho Chi Minh City
Ben Thanh Market (Vietnamese: Chợ Bến Thành) is located in the center of Ho Chi Minh City, in District 1. The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and an important symbol of the city. Ben Thanh Market is a famous destination for many local and foreign tourists from all around the world. The market operates all year round and opens at around 6am} every day until the official closing time at 6pm. After 6pm, the day market transitions into a night market which runs until 10pm.
The market developed from informal markets created by early 17th-century street vendors gathering together near the Saigon River. The market was formally established by the French colonial powers after taking over the Gia Định citadel in 1859 (see Citadel of Saigon). In 1912 the market was moved to a new building and called the New Bến Thành Market to distinguish over its predecessor. The building was renovated in 1985.
The original market started out in the early 17th century as an informal wet market founded by local street vendors.
In 1912, the market was moved into the building people are familiar with today, using fireproof metal structure to become the largest and most central of the markets in the city. The name Ben Thanh derives from the words “harbor” (Ben) and “citadel” (Thanh).
In 1985 the new market went under major renovations to keep up with the city’s progress of a modern blend. Despite many restorations over time, the market remains one of the earliest and most iconic surviving structures of Saigon.
About the Market
Four main market gateways also serve as a directory for its customers. Each gate has a designated area to sell specialty items. For example, the southern gate is divided among garments, textiles, and clothing along with shoes, jewelry, and cosmetic products. The Northern gate is where people can find a variety of fresh fruits, fish and poultry. This is also where the food vendors are set up to sell common Vietnamese dishes like pho, broken rice, bun bo hue, bun thit nuong, banh beo, grilled seafood and desserts. The Eastside also offers edible goods that are packaged such as dried seafood and poultry, roasted peanuts, candied fruit, coffee beans, tea, fish sauce, herbs, and spices. On the opposite side, the Western gate offers predominantly arts and ceramics.
Ben Thanh Market is also very lively at night. At 6 pm UTC+07.00, vendors set up brightly lit stalls on two sides of the big streets Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chu Trinh. The stalls offer similar items to the day market but with a greater emphasis on food. Some street stalls expand into sit down restaurants offering tables and seats. Many locals gather to the area after work and it’s also suitable for tourist as they offer western-style menus in English.