The main entrance or Southside is on Le Loi street/Quach Thi Trang roundabout, the Northside on Le Thanh Ton, the Eastside on Phan Boi Chau and the Westside on Phan Chau Trinh.
The market was originally structured to be near the Saigon River. As a former wet market, the surrounding canals offered the convenience for boats to pick up and drop off items for trade. After being relocated in 1912 near the My Tho railway station (currently the Saigon bus station, the market possesses one of the most optimal locations in District 1.
The market developed from informal markets created in early 17th-century, but it's character has changed and the buildings have been rebuilt many times. The current building just just reached it's 100 year mark as it was started in 1912 and opened formally in March 1914. At that time and for some time after it was known as New Ben Thanh Market, the original structure was restored and renovated in a major project that was completed in 1985 resulting in the building currently in use.
The original market of the 17th Century was an informal collection of vendors who had travelled along the Saigon River to bring goods to the city dwellers. It was already a major place to buy and sell goods by the time that the French came to the city in 1859 at which time they declared a formal market along French Colonial lines which included a wooden structure with a thatched roof.
That building however was destroyed by fire just a few years alter in 1870 but was quickly rebuilt using fireproof metal structure to become the largest and most central of the markets in the city. Ben Thanh market at that time became a hub for the city for transport and for trade.
Located today on what was originally disused wet land the current home of Ben Thanh Market was a project of the Mayor of the city who wanted a modern, in 1900 terms, building to serve his modern growing city. It took two years to complete the building with the iconic clock tower, with a large square around the market to allow easy access. When all the vendors moved into the new market building the old building was not demolished but instead became a wholesale market which is now known as the Old Market or Chợ Cu. It is one of the more popular of the other markets of the city.
Despite many restorations over time, the market remains one of the earliest and most iconic surviving structures of Saigon. and It's one of the best places for any Vietnam Tours
Ben Thanh market has a total area of 13,056 m². The 100-year-old building has a unique Indochina design that stands out among the modern and contemporary buildings around Ho Chi Minh City
. Throughout the years, the market underwent major renovations to both the exterior and interior but the overall architecture remained with its iconic clock tower in the foreground.
Since the building was constructed around the time of the French Colonial Era, the building holds strong French influence. Khuong Van Muoi, President of the city Architects’ Association, said the build adopted some of its unique features from French architects. He mentions the orientation of the building and banners along the roof that extends over the market to provide shade. These designs were integrated specifically for natural air-conditioning.
: 6.00 am - 6.00 pm
Four main market gateways also serve as a directory for its customers. Each gate has a designated area to sell specialty items. 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.
Night Market :
6.00 pm - 12.00 am
Ben Thanh Market is also very lively at night. At 6 pm , 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
Tips to visit Ben Thanh Market
-It is easier to acquire more bargains in the morning than in the afternoon. Some traders offer a “morning price” for their first customers to bring them good luck.
-Do not buy the first thing you see. There are many other fairly similar things in the market and you can compare the price before buying.
-Smile, laugh and be friendly. It will create a pleasant and enjoyable experience for both you and the sellers.
-Think about your luggage restrictions. The market is too crowded. It will be difficult to go around if you bring a lot of luggage. Maybe you can put them in your hotel.
-Walk away from a deal. In most cases, the seller will call you back and accept the “lowest offered price”.
Attractions nearby :
Bui Vien Street : The famous street that all backpackers know well with alot of budget hotels, walking street, foods and drinks. War Remnant Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Opera House are also a few minutes from This place