Sunday, February 05, 2017

Saigon, Vietnam: Photo Gallery of Ben Thanh Market

As I was planning for this family trip, I figured out quickly that we will be staying around the Ben Thanh market area (District 1) because of its proximity to most of the important sightseeing places. The bustling activity around it throughout the day and into the night makes a great cover up as well in terms of safety.

A golden travel rule especially when travelling with mobility challenged persons -- For first-timers in a city, when you are not familiar with the place you are staying, you want to make sure you go with the crowd. This is what we did.

Ben Thanh rotunda

The facade and the main entrance to Ben Thanh market in front of a large rotunda.

Ben Thanh

So we were spared from doing a Ben Thanh market day excursion in Saigon because our hotel is literally located on it. In fact, the view from our family room is the whole market which is really nice. As we relax in our bed, we see the scurry of vendors below and the motorbikes zipping through Le Thanh Ton street. I like the idea that I can take a peek into the busy outside world without having to be physically a part of it. Just watching from a distance from the comforts of our room, no pressure at all. A voyeur I guess, haha.

After a delicious pho lunch meal at Pho2000 on our first day in Saigon, the family right away hit Ben Thanh market.

As we stepped inside, we were greeted with a shrilly welcome by one of the vendors manning  some dry goods stall, “Hello miss, what you want?”

She follows me as I walk past her, “What you want miss?”

“You want coffee? Bag? T-shirt?”

“Miss, what you want?” (Pretty persistent, huh)

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the Read more link below]


Photo Gallery of Ben Thanh Market

The vendors greeted us one by one with the same phrase, and this goes on non-stop when we turned into another alley. They sounded like a broken record but in a very interesting way. Maybe because this is all new to me and their accents are very distinct. The vendors here do mean serious business and some will even follow you around insisting you take a look at the goods they are selling. When you say no, the next vendor tries her chance. Nothing wrong with that, the market is their turf =)

My mum plans on buying certain items on her list, whilst sister and I were more like her shopping cohorts, without any solid plans really except to go around and go along with the flow. True enough we didn't buy anything. We just followed and waited on her. She was in the shopping mood and was very much energised about the whole thing. She bought lots of dried fruits and nuts, some medicinal stuff and Kipling bags to bring home. We were informed before the trip that Vietnam is the outsourced manufacturer of Kipling and that they sell many original bags in the market. I also just realised that Kipling is a Belgian brand. Never knew.

Did I mention before that (purposeless) shopping and being a cohort shopper makes me lethargic? *sigh*

On the other hand, though, I have very much enjoyed my little walk around the market. They sell almost everything under the sun here. Popular local Vietnamese stuff sold were Vietnamese coffee, face masks for the motorbikes, dried fruits and nuts, Vietnamese-inspired souvenirs, bags and shirts and more bags and shirts. There is an eating section here inside the market as well. We haven't tried but it surely was quite tempting. I probably would have ordered a Bon bo hue if I didn't have company waiting.

Like in any Asian market, you have to haggle for the best price here. The vendors will always give you bloated 'tourist prices' so be prepared to get the value of your money by haggling first at half the price. There is no harm in being generous as well but I prefer paying a product or service for what it's worth.

The market scene is not only exclusive to the Ben Thanh covered market. Outside you will find more stalls and shops and a lot of fruit and street food vendors. I eyed the crunchy looking jackfruit and bought a pack. I have eaten this many times before as a kid and they are usually soft, chewy and juicy, but the Vietnamese jackfruit is quite different. It is tasty sweet but dry and crunchy. We all liked it, so we ended up buying more.

There are also many jewellery stores and travel and tour agencies around the market area. For those looking for tours and day trips, I would advise to go around and compare the quality of the offering and their prices before booking.

I will stop now and let the pictures do the rest of the storytelling.

Ben Thanh market ladies

The Vietnamese conical hat called Non La is used everywhere by many local street foods and fruit vendors.

A typical store inside the Ben Thanh covered market.

Ben Thanh Market saigon

We stopped by at this dried fruit stall and my mum bought some. I also requested if she can buy me some spicy shredded dried squid. Oooh, they are delicious =)

Ben Thanh saigon
Ben Thanh Market

These are dried Persimmons. I prefer them fresh. We call them 'Sharon' here in the Netherlands, well at least that's what I saw in the supermarkets.

Ben Thanh Market

Longan fruit (similar to Lychee, they belong to the same soapberry fruit family). One of my mum's favourites.

Ben Thanh

An eating stall inside the Ben Thanh covered market. Those little plastic children's stool is popular chairs in street side cafes and restaurants in Vietnam.

Ben Thanh Market Saigon
Ben Thanh snake

Cobra snake liquors. Drinking cobra blood is popular in the city, as well as eating snake. Eww!

Ben Thanh face mask

Your fashionable motorbike face masks. Pick one!

Ben Thanh Eat

This is the eatery area of the Ben Thanh covered market.

Ben Thanh eats

These eatery stalls are only serving Vietnamese food.

The market has entrances on all 4 corners.

Ben Thanh Market Saigon

She is selling Sampaloc (tamarind) and longan fruit.

Street food and fruit vendors outside the Ben Thanh market.

Ben Thanh

The jackfruit that we all fell in love with. The jackfruits in Vietnam are delicious and crunchy.

There are many casual street side cafes and restaurants around Ben Thanh market.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City (Southeast), Vietnam

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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