Night Markets in Saigon
While they may not be as bright and shiny as malls or supermarkets, night markets have their own character and are popular destinations for local people and travellers alike. For many travellers the day is just too hot to spend shopping, and the cooler night air offers an ideal opportunity to grab some souvenirs, while for locals the evening is an ideal time to meet and gather outside and share a meal or a drink under the stars.
There is an enormous variety of goods on offer including clothes, footwear, hats. hair clips, jewellery, watches..etc The prices are normally cheaper than day markets or supermarkets as the sellers pay less for the rent, so there are some great bargains to be had. As well as the choice in souvenirs there's also a great range of food, with many street vendors setting up shop to take advantage of the passing trade.
Some night markets specialise in cheap goods for students and workers, and are located out of town near universities and textile factories, such as the huge Ky Hoa night market on Cao Thang in District 10, where many student live. In these markets the prices are often cheaper than in town and less bargaining is necessary; many people also come to these markets and buy wholesale to stock their shops in town.
The food in Ky Hoa is delicious and surprisingly cheap, just $1 for a bowl of noodles or a plate of broken-rice with grilled pork and fried egg, plus a glass of sugar cane juice on the side. You will find a similar atmosphere at Binh Tay / Cho Lon, Hoa Hung and Ba Chieu night markets.
Ben Thanh Night Market
These markets are all within a 20-30 minute drive by taxi from the centre, and offer a authentic glimpse into real, living night markets, but for those who are short of time or energy Ben Thanh is ideally situated in the centre of Saigon and offers a taster of the larger night markets out of town. Although the shopping may be limited to souvenirs and tourist tat, there is still a wide choice of food and a great atmosphere.
There are at least 20 street-side eateries around the market building, with hundreds of diners gathering to feast on a wide range of the best dishes from all over Vietnam. You may spot 'Bún chả' or 'Phở', delicious noodle dishes from Hanoi, 'Banh Nam', little steamed cakes in banana leaf from Hue, or Bánh xèo, crispy rice pancakes from the Mekong Delta, as well as plenty of other delicacies. You can order delicious fresh grilled seafood, or tasty barbequed pork - with such great choices, you can't go wrong!
One of the best things about eating at Ben Thanh is that you can watch the chef cooking in front of you, and take in every delicious smell and sound, allowing you to enjoy the food with all your senses. The restaurants are also not exclusively tourist traps but offer authentic food and atmosphere - on any night the clientel may be 60-70% Vietnamese families and friends rather than exclusively tourists.
Eating and drinking on the street is very popular in Vietnam, and night markets offer a great window into the life of the city. If you have a chance we highly recommend joining the crowds to eat on the street for an atmosphere and experience that can't be matched by a hotel restaurant.
Night markets in Saigon - addresses
Ben Thanh Market, Le Loi, District 1
Ba Chieu, 40 Dien Hong, District 1
Hoa Hung, 539a Cach Mang Thanh Tam, District 10
Cho Lon, Hai Thuong Lang Ong, Ward 11, District 5
Ky Hoa - now moved to Thong Nhat Stadium, 138 Dao Duy Tu, Thanh Binh
All the night markets open from 5 pm and close at midnight.