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How To Explore Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Etty Valley



Welcome to Ben Thanh Market, one of the most iconic landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Bursting with energy, colors, and a vibrant atmosphere, this bustling market offers a unique shopping and culinary experience that you won’t find anywhere else.


Established in the 17th century, Ben Thanh Market has evolved from a small informal market into a major trading hub. It has become a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists seeking to immerse themselves in Vietnamese culture and indulge in some retail therapy.


As you wander through the market’s labyrinthine aisles, you’ll find a plethora of stalls selling everything from fresh produce, local handicrafts, clothing, accessories, to various food stalls offering delectable Vietnamese cuisine. Whether you’re a seasoned shopper or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, Ben Thanh Market has something for everyone.


Aside from being a shopper’s paradise, the market is also a fascinating snapshot of local life and an excellent place to interact with friendly vendors and observe the vibrant street scene. The lively ambiance and the aroma of street food permeating the air will truly transport you into the heart of Vietnamese culture.


In this article, we will delve deeper into the history of Ben Thanh Market, provide you with information on its location and opening hours, highlight what you can expect when visiting, and offer some useful tips to make the most out of your experience exploring this beloved landmark.


History of Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Originally located on the banks of the Ben Nghe River, it served as a meeting place for traders coming from nearby provinces to sell their goods. At that time, it was a simple open-air market that consisted of makeshift stalls and gradually became a popular trading spot in the region.


In the early 19th century, the market was relocated to its current location in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City. It was officially named Ben Thanh Market and quickly became a central hub for commerce and cultural exchange. The bustling market attracted a diverse range of merchants, from locals selling their produce to foreign traders from Europe, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia.


Throughout its history, Ben Thanh Market has witnessed significant transformations. In 1911, a permanent structure was built to accommodate the growing number of vendors, and the market underwent renovations in subsequent years to modernize its facilities. Despite these changes, the market has managed to retain its charm and authenticity, remaining a symbol of the city’s vibrant commercial scene.


During the Vietnam War, Ben Thanh Market played a crucial role in providing supplies to both locals and American soldiers. The market’s central location made it a convenient gathering place for people seeking essential goods and daily necessities.


Fast forward to the present day, Ben Thanh Market has become not only a popular tourist attraction but also an important cultural and historical landmark. It symbolizes the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of the Vietnamese people, as it has weathered years of challenges and still stands as a thriving commercial center.


As you explore the market, take a moment to appreciate its storied past and the incredible journey it has undertaken to become the vibrant marketplace it is today. The history of Ben Thanh Market is intertwined with the history of Ho Chi Minh City itself, making it an essential stop on any visit to this bustling metropolis.


Location and Directions

Ben Thanh Market is conveniently located in the heart of District 1, the central district of Ho Chi Minh City. Its address is Le Loi Street, Ben Thanh Ward, District 1, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists.


If you are staying in the city center, reaching Ben Thanh Market is fairly straightforward. You can choose to walk if you’re in the vicinity, as many hotels and accommodations are within a short distance from the market. Just follow the signs or ask the locals for directions.


For those who prefer public transportation, taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab are readily available throughout the city. Simply book a taxi to Ben Thanh Market, and the driver will take you directly to the entrance.


If you’re feeling adventurous and want to experience the local way of getting around, you can also take a xe om (motorcycle taxi) to the market. Negotiate the price with the driver before hopping on the back and enjoy the exhilarating ride through the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City.


For visitors staying outside of District 1, you can take a public bus or the metro to reach Ben Thanh Market. Buses are a cost-effective option, but they can be crowded during peak hours. Be sure to check the bus routes and schedules in advance to plan your journey accordingly.


As for the metro, Ho Chi Minh City’s Metro Line 1 is currently under construction. Once completed, it will provide a convenient and efficient way to travel around the city, including stops near Ben Thanh Market.


No matter which mode of transportation you choose, it’s worth noting that traffic in Ho Chi Minh City can be hectic, especially during rush hours. Be prepared for delays and give yourself ample time to reach the market.


Once you arrive at Ben Thanh Market, you’ll easily spot the iconic clock tower located at its main entrance. This serves as a landmark and meeting point for many visitors, making it a convenient reference point as you navigate through the bustling market.


Now that you know how to get to Ben Thanh Market, you’re ready to explore this vibrant hub of shopping, culture, and culinary delights. So, put on your walking shoes and immerse yourself in the bustling ambiance of one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most iconic destinations.


Opening Hours

Ben Thanh Market is a bustling hub of activity, and to experience it at its full glory, it’s important to plan your visit during the market’s opening hours. The market is open every day of the week, including weekends and public holidays.


The official opening hours of Ben Thanh Market are from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. However, it’s important to note that different sections of the market may have slightly different operating hours. The food stalls, for example, may open earlier in the morning to cater to early risers and breakfast seekers.


To make the most of your visit, it’s recommended to arrive at the market early in the day. This allows you to avoid the crowds and have a more leisurely shopping experience. In the morning, you can witness the market coming to life, with vendors setting up their stalls and the fresh produce being brought in.


If you prefer a more lively and energetic atmosphere, visiting in the late morning or early afternoon is ideal. This is when the market is at its busiest, with locals and tourists alike flocking to shop, dine, and soak up the vibrant ambiance.


It’s also worth noting that some stalls may start to close a bit earlier than the official closing time. As the day comes to an end, vendors may begin packing up their stalls and winding down their operations. Therefore, if you plan on doing some last-minute shopping, make sure to visit the market with enough time to explore before the stalls close.


Overall, Ben Thanh Market offers ample time for visitors to explore its myriad offerings. You can spend hours wandering through the various sections, browsing through the stalls, sampling local delicacies, and soaking in the vibrant atmosphere. Just be sure to check the official opening hours and plan your visit accordingly to make the most of your time at this bustling marketplace.


What to Expect at Ben Thanh Market

When you step into the vibrant world of Ben Thanh Market, be prepared to be engulfed in a sensory overload of sights, sounds, and smells. The market offers a diverse array of products and experiences that cater to every taste and preference.


One of the highlights of Ben Thanh Market is the abundance of fresh produce stalls. Here, you will find colorful pyramids of fruits and vegetables, offering a glimpse into the rich agricultural heritage of Vietnam. From exotic tropical fruits to fragrant herbs and spices, you can purchase a variety of ingredients to take home or sample on the spot.


The market is also renowned for its wide range of textiles and garments. Whether you’re looking for traditional ao dai (Vietnamese dress), vibrant batik fabrics, or trendy streetwear, Ben Thanh Market has it all. Spend some time browsing through the stalls and negotiating prices with the friendly vendors to find unique pieces to add to your wardrobe.


In addition to clothing and produce, you’ll also find an array of handicrafts and souvenirs that make for great gifts or mementos of your trip to Vietnam. From lacquerware and ceramics to handwoven baskets and wooden carvings, the market showcases the skill and creativity of local artisans.


As you explore further, you’ll discover an enticing array of street food stalls, offering a tantalizing selection of Vietnamese cuisine. From steaming bowls of pho to crispy banh xeo and savory banh mi sandwiches, you can indulge in a gastronomic adventure within the market. Pull up a plastic stool, join the locals, and savor the flavors of Vietnam’s diverse culinary traditions.


Beyond shopping and dining, Ben Thanh Market is also a cultural melting pot. You’ll encounter friendly vendors eager to share their stories and traditions with you. Take the opportunity to engage in conversations, learn about the local way of life, and perhaps even pick up a few basic Vietnamese phrases.


However, it’s important to note that the market can get crowded, especially during peak hours. The narrow aisles and bustling atmosphere may feel overwhelming at first, but it’s all part of the unique charm of Ben Thanh Market. Embrace the energy, navigate the maze, and immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Vietnamese culture.


With its diverse offerings and lively atmosphere, Ben Thanh Market promises an unforgettable experience for all. Get ready to embark on a sensory adventure as you explore this iconic market in Ho Chi Minh City.


Shopping at Ben Thanh Market

Shopping at Ben Thanh Market is an absolute delight for avid shoppers and bargain hunters. With its vast array of products and competitive prices, the market offers a unique shopping experience that captures the essence of Vietnamese culture.


One of the highlights of shopping at Ben Thanh Market is the opportunity to purchase traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. From intricately carved wooden statues to beautifully painted lacquerware, you’ll find a wide range of unique items that showcase the craftsmanship of local artisans. These make for perfect gifts or keepsakes to remember your time in Vietnam.


If you’re a fashion enthusiast, Ben Thanh Market won’t disappoint. Browse through the stalls to find a variety of clothing options, ranging from contemporary designs to traditional Vietnamese garments. Ao dai, the elegant national costume, is particularly popular and can be tailor-made to your measurements. Don’t forget to haggle and negotiate for the best price!


For those in search of accessories and jewelry, Ben Thanh Market has a plethora of options to choose from. From delicate silver jewelry to vibrant beaded bracelets and embroidered bags, you’ll find unique pieces that add a touch of Vietnamese flair to your personal style.


Food lovers will also find plenty to tempt their taste buds at the market. The aisles are lined with stalls offering a wide range of Vietnamese snacks and treats. Indulge in some crispy Vietnamese spring rolls, fresh tropical fruit, or the ever-popular banh mi sandwich. Don’t forget to sample a cup of Vietnamese coffee – known for its bold flavor and unique brewing method.


When shopping at Ben Thanh Market, it’s important to practice your bargaining skills. Haggling is a common practice, and vendors often expect customers to negotiate the price. Be friendly, but firm, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the price doesn’t meet your expectations. Remember, the art of bargaining is all part of the shopping experience.


It’s also recommended to explore the different sections of the market thoroughly. While some areas may seem similar, you’ll find that certain stalls offer higher-quality products or better deals. Take your time, compare prices, and ask vendors for recommendations – they are often more than happy to assist you in finding what you’re looking for.


Lastly, it’s beneficial to bring small denominations of Vietnamese Dong (VND), as many vendors may not accept larger bills or offer change for higher amounts. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to bring a reusable bag to carry your purchases, as some vendors may not provide bags or charge for them.


Overall, shopping at Ben Thanh Market is an exciting and immersive experience. Soak up the vibrant atmosphere, interact with friendly vendors, and discover unique treasures that embody the spirit of Vietnamese culture.


Food and Dining Options

One of the highlights of a visit to Ben Thanh Market is the opportunity to indulge in the delectable flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. With its wide array of food stalls and dining options, the market is a paradise for food lovers.


As you explore the market, you’ll be greeted by enticing aromas and mouthwatering sights. From local street food to regional specialties, there is something to satisfy every palate. Whether you’re a fan of noodles, rice dishes, or flavorful soups, Ben Thanh Market has it all.


One of the must-try dishes at the market is the iconic pho. This savory noodle soup, made with aromatic broth, tender slices of beef or chicken, fresh herbs, and rice noodles, is a quintessential Vietnamese comfort food. Look for the bustling pho stalls and savor this traditional dish that epitomizes Vietnamese culinary excellence.


For those who prefer a bit of spice, try the savory and flavorful bun bo hue. This hearty soup features vermicelli noodles, tender beef, and a tangy, spicy broth infused with lemongrass and chili. It’s a popular dish from the central region of Vietnam and offers a delightful kick of heat and flavors.


Another must-try dish at Ben Thanh Market is the banh mi sandwich. Created during the French colonial era, this fusion delight showcases crispy baguettes filled with a delicious combination of ingredients, such as grilled meats, pâté, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. Enjoy a banh mi as a quick bite on the go or sit down at one of the stalls and savor the harmonious blend of flavors.


For those who crave something fried and crispy, don’t miss out on the famous Vietnamese spring rolls. These delightful rolls are filled with a combination of minced pork or shrimp, fresh herbs, and vegetables, then wrapped in a thin rice paper and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Dip them into a tangy and flavorful dipping sauce for a burst of deliciousness.


Aside from these popular dishes, there are countless other culinary delights to discover at Ben Thanh Market. From savory pancakes known as banh xeo to refreshing bowls of bun thit nuong (grilled meat with vermicelli), the options are endless. Don’t forget to sample some of the fresh tropical fruit available at the market, such as juicy mangos, succulent pineapple, or creamy durian.


As you navigate the market, look for stalls that are crowded with locals. This is often a good sign of high-quality and delicious food. Be adventurous and try dishes you may not be familiar with – you might just discover a new favorite.


While eating at Ben Thanh Market, it’s worth noting that hygiene standards may vary between stalls. It’s important to use your discretion when choosing where to dine. Look for stalls with a clean appearance and where the food is cooked to order. Don’t hesitate to ask the vendors about their ingredients and cooking methods to ensure a safe and enjoyable dining experience.


Ultimately, dining at Ben Thanh Market is an adventure for your taste buds. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary scene, try new flavors, and savor the incredible diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.


Tips for Exploring Ben Thanh Market

Exploring Ben Thanh Market can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s essential to keep a few tips in mind to make the most out of your visit. Here are some helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure through this bustling market.

  • Visit early: To avoid the crowds and have a more relaxed shopping experience, consider visiting Ben Thanh Market in the early morning. Not only will you beat the rush, but you’ll also get a chance to witness the market coming to life as vendors set up their stalls.
  • Practice your bargaining skills: Bargaining is a common practice at Ben Thanh Market, so be prepared to negotiate prices with the vendors. Start with a lower price and work your way up. Remember to stay friendly and respectful throughout the process.
  • Take cash in smaller denominations: Many vendors at the market may not accept credit cards, so it’s important to have cash on hand. Bring smaller denominations of Vietnamese Dong (VND), as it will be easier for vendors to provide change.
  • Bring a reusable bag: Some vendors may not provide bags, or they may charge for them. To be environmentally friendly and prepared for your shopping spree, bring a reusable bag to carry your purchases.
  • Try local street food: Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the delicious street food available at Ben Thanh Market. Look for stalls that are popular with locals and enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Be adventurous and try new dishes!
  • Be mindful of your belongings: As with any crowded market, it’s important to stay vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings. Keep your valuables secure and be cautious of pickpockets in the crowded areas.
  • Explore beyond the main aisles: While the main aisles can be bustling with activity, don’t forget to explore the smaller side alleys and hidden corners of the market. You may discover unique stalls and hidden gems off the beaten path.
  • Respect cultural norms: Keep in mind that Ben Thanh Market is a place of cultural significance. Dress modestly and be respectful of the local customs and traditions. Remember that you are a guest in this vibrant market.
  • Engage with the vendors: The vendors at Ben Thanh Market are often friendly and welcoming. Take the opportunity to chat with them, learn about their products, and gain insights into Vietnamese culture. It adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your shopping experience.
  • Take your time: Ben Thanh Market can be overwhelming with its vast offerings. Take your time to explore at your own pace. Allow yourself to get lost in the vibrant ambiance and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of this iconic market.

By following these tips, you can make the most out of your visit to Ben Thanh Market. Embrace the energy, enjoy the shopping experience, and create lasting memories of your time spent in this bustling market in Ho Chi Minh City.



Exploring Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a sensory adventure that immerses you in the vibrant culture and rich history of the country. From its humble beginnings as a small open-air market to its current status as a bustling trading hub, the market has undergone significant transformations while retaining its authenticity and charm.


As you wander through the aisles of Ben Thanh Market, you’ll encounter a diverse array of products, from fresh produce and traditional handicrafts to fashionable clothing and mouthwatering street food. The market offers a unique blend of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences that showcase the vibrant tapestry of Vietnamese life.


To make the most of your visit, consider arriving early to beat the crowds, practice your bargaining skills to ensure the best deals, and don’t forget to try the local street food that tantalizes your taste buds. Engage with the friendly vendors and soak up the bustling atmosphere as you explore the market’s hidden corners and uncover hidden treasures.


Beyond the shopping and feasting, Ben Thanh Market is a cultural icon that reflects the spirit of Ho Chi Minh City. Its history, bustling ambiance, and warm hospitality of the vendors create an unforgettable experience for all who visit.


So, whether you’re a shopaholic, a food enthusiast, or simply want to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of Vietnam, a visit to Ben Thanh Market is a must. Take your time, explore with curiosity, and embrace the unique flavors, sights, and sounds that make this market a symbol of Ho Chi Minh City’s spirit.


Enjoy every moment of your adventure through Ben Thanh Market, and may it leave you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage of Vietnam.