Ben Thanh Market

Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam

Bến Thành market has been around Saigon in one form or another for over 300 years. At some points it neighbored bodies of water including a small lake. It is a monster, overwhelming at first. If you come to Saigon and you love to shop, this is the one-stop shop you are looking for. Personally nothing is more thrilling at Bến Thành than the art of “The Barter.” It’s a strategic game of wits of where you pit product desire against pocketbook ability and the house always wins. It’s not always easy, in fact it’s never easy. Hot, stagnant air ripe with the smell of fish and squid always seems to hang in the air right over that gift you can’t live without. You’re constantly walking that fine line between feeling like you got ripped off or feeling you’re further oppressing the local population. Bến Thành is the stadium packed with hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing, jewelry, and art- and they’re all yours to play for.

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Strange Candies

Wandering around the main indoor market, we passed a dozen vendors selling these intriguing colorful candies. After an hour we were unable to resist temptation any longer, so we selected 2 of nearly everything. Some were delicious and some were strange, but every bite was an experience. Note: In my opinion the pink, green and white ones were quite good while the yellow ones in the corner of the photo were disgusting ...

Whole Hog in Ho Chi Minh

Whole animal butchery and cooking is one of the trends du jour in high-end Western restaurants that have the space and a sensitivity to sustainability. But it’s old hat in rural America and throughout the world, even in the largest of cities. The Ben Thanh Market in high on the list of must-see destinations for visitors to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Vietnam, and this stall’s offal display sees a lot of camera action, if not a lot of purchases by tourists used to eating a little higher on the hog.


When it comes to food the more colorful the better. Southeast Asia, Vietnam in particular, has some of the brightest and tastiest looking dishes. Benh Thanh Market, Saigon, Vietnam

Got Corn Milk?

When they first mentioned it - corn milk - I knew I had to try it. Our food tour guides were surprised at how excited we were around this foreign drink. Corn milk drink (sữa ngô/ sữa bắp) in Vietnam is exactly what the name says – fresh corn flavored milk. It tastes mildly sweet and silky with a soft aroma and taste of corn. Pour it over ice on a hot night and enjoy. Delicious! You can find it in various restaurants and markets. It should be kept cold as it is dairy after all.

Ben Thanh Market

When I was visiting Ho Chi Minh for only two days, one of the places I kept coming back was Ben Thanh Market. So much food to choose from, so many people. The nonchalant of pulling a plastic chair, sitting around a random table in the middle of the market and sharing the table with strangers.

Pho Soup

There are so many variations to the Pho noodle soup in Vietnam, and yet, one of the best one I’ve ate was in Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City. Grab a plastic chair, chopsticks and don’t forget the lime. It’s a great combination.

CATCH: SHOP at Some Vietnam Markets

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.

that dish: bánh mì, oh my

Vietnam is filled with delicious treats from spring rolls to jackfruit to my beloved pho bo soup. The country is also home to the bánh mì, a tasty sandwich showcasing both Vietnam’s French influenced past and local flavors at the same time. An airy, crispy, single serving baguette is stuffed with a variety of fillings more often than not including grilled meat, pâté, fresh cucumber, cilantro, pickled veggies, mayo, chili and sometimes cheese. Bánh mì are ubiquitous in Vietnam and especially in Ho Chi Minh City. Finding a bánh mì stand is not a difficult task. However, finding an outstanding one is. While strolling through HCMC’s Ben Thanh Market, my friends and I noticed multiple old locals munching on what looked to be the same awesome version. After a few miscommunications and a little misunderstanding, we were guided to a lady outside the market on the street, with nothing but a simple cart and serving nothing but bánh mì. The woman who made the sandwiches spoke no English, and we no Vietnamese, but it didn’t matter, she knew what we had come for. Within seconds was whipping us up a bánh mì with the meat, pâté, and everything in between. The sandwich was sweet, salty, sour and spicy, all flavors in balance and absolutely devine. Having devoured ours in a mere minute, we quickly returned for seconds, the lady giving us nothing but a knowing look before heading to work on bánh mì number two. My only regret: not getting bánh mì number three.

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