Ben Thanh market is an ancient site that is a distinctive symbol of Ho Chi Minh city. In Ho Chi Minh city tour, this market is a must-go destination to make the journey complete.
When it comes to bustling markets steeped in history and culture, few places can rival the charm of Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh city. This iconic marketplace, with over a century of existence and development, has become not only a trading hub but also a must-visit tourist destination for anyone exploring the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh city. From its unique architectural features to the friendly local vendors and the wide array of goods on offer, Ben Thanh Market offers a captivating experience that beckons travelers from near and far.
Ben Thanh Market’s Origins
Located prominently in the heart of the city, Ben Thanh Market has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Initially constructed with bricks, wooden frames, and thatched roofs, it was situated near a river wharf close to Gia Dinh citadel. The name “Ben Thanh” stems from the wharf’s role in welcoming visitors and soldiers to the citadel.
However, as the years passed, the market faced deterioration, and by the mid-1911s, it was on the brink of collapse. To mitigate this risk, the French colonial authorities decided to relocate the market to its current location by filling in the Bo Ret pond area. This transformation gave rise to the sturdy and iconic market structure we see today.
Over the course of more than a century, Ben Thanh Market has witnessed the evolution of Ho Chi Minh city, becoming an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage. Covering an expansive area of over 13,000 square meters, the market hosts around 6,000 small traders and boasts approximately 1,500 stalls, drawing thousands of visitors daily.
The Renovations and Facelifts
Ben Thanh Market has undergone several renovations and beautification projects throughout its history. A significant restoration effort in 1985 brought a fresh look to the market, with everything from the market house to the stalls being renewed. Nevertheless, the exterior architecture and the iconic clock tower remained untouched, preserving the market’s historical character.
Ben Thanh Market is thoughtfully designed with four main entrances, each bordering one of its four road sides, and an additional 12 side entrances radiating out in four directions which is a common thing in many market of Vietnam tours. Each of the main entrances offers its own unique shopping experience:
South Gate (Main Gate)
Located on Le Loi Street, this entrance is a haven for fabric, clothing, and dry food enthusiasts. It is also home to the three-sided clock tower, a beloved landmark that has graced the market since its inception.
Situated on Le Thanh Ton Street, this entrance leads visitors to stalls selling fresh food and an array of delectable fruits.
Found on Phan Boi Chau Street, Cua Dong is a paradise for candy and cosmetics shoppers.
Nestled on Phan Chu Trinh Street, the West Gate is known for its concentration of shoe stalls, handicrafts, and souvenir shops.
Unique Architectural Charms
The architectural evolution of Ben Thanh Market over the years is a truly captivating journey. It began with humble origins, characterized by simple construction using bricks and thatched roofs. However, as time passed, this market underwent a remarkable transformation, embracing modernization while preserving its historical charm.
The initial structure and materials were typical of market’s modest beginnings era and served its functional purpose. As the market continued to evolve, it shed its traditional exterior and embraced new architectural elements.
The market’s architectural metamorphosis brought forth an iron frame, replacing the wooden structure, and a tiled roof to replace the thatched one. This transition marked a significant step towards modernity, providing both stability and durability to the market’s infrastructure.
Today, Ben Thanh Market stands as a testament to the convergence of history and modernity. Its current architectural rendition features a corrugated iron roof, offering protection from the elements, while the spacious ceramic tile floor provides a clean and inviting atmosphere for visitors.
Despite these transformations, the market has remained deeply rooted in its history. One iconic element that has stood the test of time is the majestic clock tower at the South Gate. This clock tower, designed in the elegant French architectural style, is a symbol of both the market and the city. Adorning its facade are the words “BEN THANH MARKET,” serving as a constant reminder of the market’s identity and historical significance.
To enhance the market’s visual appeal and celebrate its cultural heritage, each of its main entrances is adorned with intricately crafted bas-reliefs. These stunning bas-reliefs, the handiwork of artist Le Van Mau in 1952, depict various regional products. As visitors pass through these entrances, they are greeted by depictions of pigs, cows, ducks, bananas, fish, and other local products. These bas-reliefs not only add to the market’s aesthetic charm but also serve as a cultural touchpoint, connecting visitors to the rich tapestry of Vietnamese life and commerce
Ben Thanh Market is not just a marketplace; it’s a shopping haven that beckons visitors with its boundless variety and endless discoveries. As the largest retail market in the city, it goes above and beyond to cater to every shopping whim and desire, making it easy for you to lose yourself amidst its eclectic offerings.
For fashion enthusiasts, Ben Thanh Market is nothing short of a paradise. The market boasts an extensive range of clothing options, from the latest trends to timeless classics. Here, you can explore racks of clothing, showcasing everything from stylish dresses, traditional Vietnamese ao dai outfits, and trendy t-shirts to elegant silk garments. Whether you’re looking for a fashionable souvenir or a complete wardrobe makeover, this market has you covered.
Artistry and craftsmanship thrive at Ben Thanh Market. Handicraft enthusiasts will be delighted to discover an enchanting world of meticulously crafted items. Local artisans showcase their talents through an array of handmade products, including intricately woven baskets, finely carved wooden figurines, and delicate lacquerware. These handicrafts not only make for unique keepsakes but also provide insight into Vietnam’s rich artisanal traditions.
Ben Thanh Market is a culinary treasure trove renowned for its diverse and delectable regional specialties that promise to captivate your taste buds. The food from Mekong Delta tours appears in the market. This bustling marketplace offers a mouthwatering array of Vietnamese cuisine that seamlessly blends tradition and innovation, all while remaining incredibly budget-friendly.
Mentioning Cu Chi Tunnels tour makes visitors think about heifer. And Ben Thanh Market suggests culinary adventure that includes some of Vietnam’s most iconic dishes. Here, you’ll find steaming bowls of “pho,” a fragrant and flavorful noodle soup that is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine. The market’s “pho” vendors take great pride in crafting this aromatic broth, filled with tender slices of beef or chicken, aromatic herbs, and silky rice noodles. It’s a taste of Vietnam’s culinary heritage that you won’t want to miss.
Beyond the main dishes, Ben Thanh Market is a paradise for those seeking delightful Vietnamese snacks. The market’s culinary landscape features a diverse range of sweet and savory options, including “sweet soup” and “snails.”
What makes dining at Ben Thanh Market even more appealing is its affordability. Despite the exceptional quality and flavors of the dishes, the prices are incredibly budget-friendly, making it accessible to travelers and locals alike.
Key Considerations When Visiting Ben Thanh Market in District 1:
At Ben Thanh Market, the art of bargaining is not merely a transactional activity; it’s a way to establish a cultural connection between the buyer and the seller. Each negotiation is a performance where communication skills and loyalty are showcased. Bargaining is not just about haggling over prices; it’s about creating an ambiance of comfort and friendliness.
Successful bargaining at Ben Thanh Market goes beyond knowing how to reduce prices; it involves creating a relaxed and amicable atmosphere. Initiating the conversation with a friendly greeting like “Hello, may I please have your best price?” often establishes a friendly tone for the negotiation. Most importantly, maintaining an optimistic attitude and patience throughout the bargaining process is crucial.
Exercise caution with your purse or bag to prevent pickpocketing or snatch-and-grab incidents while shopping.
In the bustling areas outside the market, streets are crowded, and traffic can be hectic. Therefore, whether crossing the road or moving around to take check-in photos, tourists should be vigilant and observant to ensure personal safety.
Ben Thanh Market, with its rich history, unique architecture, diverse goods, and delectable cuisine, stands as a vibrant testament to Ho Chi Minh city’s cultural heritage. Whether you’re a seasoned shopper, a history buff, or a food enthusiast, a visit to Ben Thanh Market is an experience that will leave you captivated and enriched. It’s a place where the past and present converge, offering an unforgettable glimpse into the heart and soul of Ho Chi Minh city. Make sure to include Ben Thanh Market in your itinerary when you explore this dynamic and culturally rich city.