Ben Thanh Market in the city center of Ho Chi Minh, is one stop shopping for pretty much everything under the Vietnamese sun. It's arranged in sections according to categories, from textiles and souvenirs, to fresh produce. Be sure to consult the maps at the entrances to scout out your route and arrange a meeting place for when you inevitably get lost. Also bring your game face and be prepared to haggle a bit- the prices are marked up considerably- feel free to cut their initial offer in half and they'll work with you. When you need a break, there are quite a few little food stands run by business savvy Vietnamese women who will gladly grab you if you get close enough, and press you down into one of their seats for some amazing Bahn Mi and iced coffee.
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Crabs - packed and ready to go
We did a tour of Ben Thanh Market as part of the Saigon Cooking Class (http://www.saigoncookingclass.com/) and these crabs tightly packed into a bucket was one of the many weird and wonderful animal sightings that we saw on our 3.5 week vacation in Asia.