Hey, maybe you just negotiate with your partner about big contracts. But, have you ever bargained with merchants in the market even one time in your life? Would you like to know how to survive in Saigon? Let’s come with us to one of the best markets in Vietnam. Symbolic Ben Thanh Market will give you some super useful tips to know how to be a “Vietnamese consumer”.

History Of Ben Thanh Market

The first Ben Thanh Market started out in the early 17th century as a few little stalls and informal makeshift markets by casual street vendors gathering together near the Ben Nghe River (Saigon River). When the nearby Gia Dinh Citadel was overthrown in 1859 by French imperialists, the market was properly built and formally established. Initially named Les Halles Centrales, it was renamed Ben Thanh which roughly translates to “wharf citadel”, after being destroyed in a fire and then restored.

However, in 1914 the market was relocated to a more central location to what was then near the My Tho railway station (current Saigon bus station) and again renamed as the “New Ben Thanh Market” to distinguish from its predecessor. In 1985 the new one was renovated to keep up with the city’s progress, yet the famous clock tower on the south entrance was left unchanged. Despite the restorations over time, the market remains one of the earliest surviving structures of Saigon – having witnessed ups and downs, war and finally peace.

How To Get To Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh Market is located at Le Loi Street and in central Ho Chi Minh City. The directions to the market will depend on where are you staying but as long as you are in central Ho Chi Minh City, you can easily walk to this market. It is definitely within walking distance of most of the tourist attractions in  Ho Chi Minh City so once you start to do some sightseeing, make a note to sightsee the market.

Layout Of Ben Thanh Market

There are 4 entrances and 12 gates. Every entrances have been selling the specific goods. The South (Quach Thi Trang Square) entrance is the one which has a vintage clock and the iconic tower, inside is sold fabric and dried foods. The North entrance (Le Thanh Ton Street) is colorful with numerous kinds of fragrant flowers and seasonal fruits. The West entrance draws tourists with variety of handicraft, famous shoes brand and so on. The East entrance is the paradise of candy and cosmetic. You maybe get lost in the world of bargaining. Take a deep breath, keep calm and be careful with your buck.

Some Tips To “Survive” In Ben Thanh Market

  1. Do not buy the first thing you see. The market is full of people selling fairly similar things, so you should go around some spots before finally deciding on what you want. If you find a place that particularly catches your attention – jot down its address. The market is not the ‘biggest market’ but it’s fairly easy to get lost here – which is probably not a bad thing as you’ll most likely end up finding another bargain elsewhere but try to keep an eye out for marker to help you negotiate back to where you need to be.
  2. Do not pre-determine a fixed price in your head before you start to bargain. Your price will typically end up either being too high or too low. After checking out a few places, you’ll get a sense of what their starting prices are. You can typically go lower than that starting price and pay between 1/3 or 1/4 of the starting price. I’m sure you can go even lower than this but by this point, I figure I’m only saving myself pennies (which would mean more to them than it would to me) so I just let it go.
  3. Smile, laugh and be friendly. People always respond to positivity here and it will create pleasant and enjoyable experiences for both of you. It’s only a market afterward and there’s no need to take things so seriously especially if you’re just visiting as a tourist.
  4. Think about your luggage restrictions. It’s so easy to get carried away with items that you ‘just had to have’ only to get back to your hotel and find out that it doesn’t even fit into your luggage or is too heavy to take with you. You’ll just end up disappointing yourself when you have to leave it at the hotel/hostel/airport.
  5. Be prepared to walk away from a deal. This actually gives you more power and in most cases, will get you called back by the seller with an acceptance of your ‘lowest offer price’. Don’t be afraid to walk away – if you get too attached to the item, you lose the power whereas you could just walk a few stalls down and find the exact same item at a much cheaper price. Only walk away when you know that you’re happy with the price you’ve asked for as when they call you back, it’s typically to accept that price.
  6. Ask questions. Even if they can’t answer them (perhaps out of not knowing the answer of out of language barriers), the sellers can recruit help from other people to answer your questions. In any case, this keeps the conversation flowing and helps create a better rapport which can help you get the prices you want to pay.
  7. When you initially tell the first price – be prepared to look slight shocked. Haggling is sometimes like a game or some kind of dance so this surprised look you will wear is all part of it. Subliminally, it sets the tone and let the sellers know their price is not reasonable for you. You don’t even need to think about what price it is – it’s always going to be higher that what you should pay so practice your ‘surprised look’ at home before you venture out bargain hunting!



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Thank you very much for spending time on our article!
Saigon Adventure wishes you have a memorable time in Vietnam!




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