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Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market: A prominent landmark of the bustling Ho Chi Minh City

10/02/2023 1141 views

As an iconic symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market is a must-visit place for travelers who are enthusiastic about the beautiful French architecture and want to immerse themselves in the hustle and bustle of this energetic city.

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is a one-hundred-year symbol of Ho Chi Minh City (Source: Collected)

During your Ho Chi Minh City travel journey, besides visiting famous tourist attractions, wandering around Ben Thanh Market should be one of the top activities on your bucket list. Here, you can admire the architecture of a bygone era, find some great bargains on meticulously made sourvernirs, and gain greater insight into the daily life of the locals.

1. About the history of Ben Thanh Market Vietnam

  • Address: Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours: 6.00 am – 7.00 pm

1.1. Why is it called Ben Thanh Market?

With its hundred years of history, Ben Thanh Market is widely regarded as a typical symbol of Ho Chi Minh City. However, not everyone knows how it got its name. The market was initially called Les Halles Centrales before being renamed to Ben Thanh. The market was located next to Ben Nghe river wharf, which was used to welcome visitors and soldiers into Gia Dinh Citadel. Therefore, the market was called Ben Thanh (“Ben” means river wharf and “Thanh” refers to the citadel)

Ben Thanh Market

Saigon Ben Thanh Market in the 18th century (Source: Collected)

1.2. When was Ben Thanh Market built?

The old Ben Thanh Market was built by the French to serve as a trading hub in 1860 after French imperialists overthrew Gia Dinh Citadel. After being used for decades, the market was degraded and at risk of collapsing, so the French decided to rebuild it.

Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market Saigon after its inauguration in 1914 (Source: Collected)

According to an official document published in the Le Nouvelliste Cochinchinois newspaper on March 31, 1914, the project to rebuild the market was launched in 1894, but construction actually began in 1912. The market was officially opened to the public on March 28, 1914. Since then, it has undergone many restorations and embellishments. Still, the exterior architecture and the clock tower are preserved.

2. The structure of Ben Thanh Market Ho Chi Minh City

Ben Thanh Market has 4 main gates and 12 side entrances:

  • Ben Thanh Market – South entrance

Considered as the main gate of Ben Thanh Market, the southern entrance, located on Le Loi Street, is well-known for a large clock tower, which is the iconic highlight of the market. This entrance leads to an area with a myriad of stalls selling dried food and clothes.

  • Ben Thanh Market – North entrance

The northern entrance of the market, situated on Le Thanh Tong Street, offers numerous stalls selling fresh fruit, seafood, and meat.

  • Ben Thanh Market – East entrance

Situated on Phan Boi Chau Street, the eastern gate of the market is a paradise for cosmetics, where you can find almost every type of body care, skin care, and hair care products.

  • Ben Thanh Market – West entrance

The western gate of the market, located on Phan Chau Trinh Street, is a popular spot for tourists who are looking for souvenirs and Vietnamese traditional goods.

Ben Thanh Market

The main entrance of Ben Thanh Market (Source: Collected)

3. What are the special features of Ben Thanh Market?

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market offers tourists an opportunity to admire the unique French colonial architecture and explore a plethora of bustling stalls in the market.

3.1. The ancient architecture

Ben Thanh Market, designed by Brossard et Maupin Construction Company, is renowned for its special architecture, which is a distinctive blend of Indochinese and French influences. The market is a rectangular building with its notable clock tower in the front, a wooden vaulted ceiling, and open sides. Despite major renovations, the exterior and interior of the market are always preserved, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural history of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ben Thanh Market

Tourists taking pictures in front of Ben Thanh Market (Source: Collected)

3.2. Many shopping stalls with diverse products

As the largest retail market in Saigon with nearly 1,450 stalls, Ben Thanh Market is famous for its wide range of products on offer:

  • Clothing and accessories

Visitors can find countless shops selling fashion items ranging from silk, shoes to garments. If you want to buy ao dai – the traditional dress of Vietnamese women – there are several stores offering ao dai at affordable prices in Ben Thanh Market. With a variety of designs and colors, you can easily choose a beautiful ao dai for yourself and your loved ones.

  • Dried specialties

It is not difficult to find gifts for your family and friends while strolling through Ben Thanh market’s dry specialty section. The market offers numerous kinds of high-quality dried seafood, such as dried squid, dried shrimp, simmered crab, and Saigon’s dried specialties such as beef jerky and dried mango. Their prices vary greatly, from 50,000 to 1,000,000 VND.

  • Handicrafts

Besides some above-mentioned Saigon specialties, you can bring home beautiful handicrafts. The majority of the handicrafts sold in the market are meticulously made from sedge and rattan. Due to the special material, the making of these products is often time-consuming, complex, and labor-intensive, so their prices are relatively high.

  • Fruits

Ben Thanh Market is an ideal place for locals and travelers to buy fresh fruits in the morning, as they have just been transported from some nearby farms. You can find a wide variety of fresh vegetables and tropical fruits, such as durians, watermelons, pineapples, and coconuts sold in the market at reasonable prices.

Ben Thanh Market

Each stall in Ben Thanh Market Saigon has its own charm (Source: Collected)

3.3. A crowded dining area with plenty of foods

If you are a Vietnamese food lover, Ben Thanh Market’s spacious dining area, with a lot of tasty dishes, is a place that you should not miss out on. Here, there are diverse dishes from every region of Vietnam, which attract not only domestic tourists but also foreigners. Some of the best Vietnamese foods that can be found here are Vietnamese pancakes, avocado ice cream, Vietnamese noodles with grilled pork, grilled spring rolls, vermicelli with snails, and grilled meat skewers. The explosion of flavors of the Vietnamese delicacies here will fulfill your appetite.

Ben Thanh Market

Foreigners enjoying the local dishes at Ben Thanh Market Sai Gon (Source: Collected)

3.4. The bustling ambiance at night

Although Vietnam Ben Thanh Market closes at 7 pm, it is still a lively and energetic place at night with numerous street food vendors outside the market. These food stalls serve a delicious array of local delicacies, adding to the lively atmosphere with the aroma of sizzling meats and spices. The air is filled with the sounds of people bargaining, laughing, and moving from one stall to another. If you want to immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City, it is highly recommended that you visit the market at night.

Ben Thanh Market

The bustling Ben Thanh Market at night (Source: Collected)

4. When is the best time to visit Ben Thanh Market? How to get there?

  • The best time of the day to visit

Ben Thanh Market is quite large, with a myriad of different stalls and areas, so it may take visitors 1-2 hours to explore thoroughly. The best time of the day to visit the market largely depends on your own preferences.

  • From 7.30 am to 6 pm: If you want to visit and shop inside the market.
  • After 7 pm: If you want to mingle in the bustling atmosphere of numerous food stalls at night.
  • Means of transportation

Having a prime location in District 1, Ben Thanh Market can be easily reached from any part of the city. There are numerous means of transportation that tourists can choose from to get here, such as bus, taxi, car, and motorbike.

  • By bus: You can catch buses number 03, 04, 152, 19, 20, 39, 53, 93, or 96 to reach the market. They all make a stop nearby, which is only a short walk away from the market.
  • By personal vehicle: If you have a vehicle, there are some parking areas near the market. Parking fees range from 10,000 to 20,000 VND. 
  • By taxi: You can take a taxi to leisurely explore the market without worrying about where to park your vehicle.

5. Other famous destinations near Ben Thanh Market Saigon

Situated in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market has been one of the most important trading points of Saigon for a long time. The market is also located near many other tourist attractions, including Bitexco Financial Tower, Nguyen Hue Walking Street, Independence Palace, etc.

5.1. Bitexco Financial Tower

  • Address: No. 135, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours: 7.30 am – 11 am

Bitexco Financial Tower is a 68-story skyscraper, known for its iconic circular shape and helipad. It serves as a hub for business, with office spaces and a conference center, along with a retail center where you can have pleasant dining and shopping experiences. The highlight of this towering skyscraper is its Saigon Skydeck Observatory. If you visit the Skydeck at night, you will be able to see an entirely different Saigon. The lights from the cars and buildings below will blend together and produce an incredibly colorful picture for you to behold.

Ben Thanh Market

Bitexco Financial Tower – the second-highest building in Vietnam (Source: Collected)

5.2. Nguyen Hue Walking Street

  • Address: Nguyen Hue Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours: All day

The well-known Nguyen Hue Walking Street is 670 meters long and 64 meters wide, having a square totally paved with granite. The walking street is best visited in the evening, especially on Saturdays and Sundays, when there will be a range of exciting and fun things to enjoy. If you get fatigued after wandering around the street, just take a quick break and visit the food stalls, restaurants, coffee shops, milk tea shops on both sides of the street.

Ben Thanh Market

Young people playing musical instruments on Nguyen Hue Walking Street (Source: Collected)

5.3. Independence Palace

  • Address: No. 135, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
  • Opening hours: 7.30 am – 11 am

The Independence Palace is another intriguing landmark besides Ben Thanh Market that visitors should take their time to visit. This place used to serve as South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu’s home and office throughout the past war. The Independence Palace is regarded as one of the most valuable historical landmarks in Vietnam, as it has witnessed numerous important occasions in Saigon’s history.

Ben Thanh Market

Independence Palace – the witness of many important historical events in Vietnam (Source: Collected)

The Independence Palace has classic and elegant architecture. It features hundreds of rooms with high-quality furnishings and décor, as well as a large gorgeous park outside. It is a perfect location for visitors to learn about Vietnamese history, relax in the cool air, and admire one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most stunning structures.

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Ben Thanh Market

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Ben Thanh Market

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Ben Thanh Market is an attractive destination for Saigon food lovers and shopaholics thanks to the wide variety of Vietnamese traditional dishes and appealing products. Visitors will also be drawn to the market by its elegant architecture and bustling atmosphere all day long.


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