Shopping at the markets in Saigon

Ben Thanh Market: well-known as a “topnotch market” for over a hundred years
   Ben Thanh Market is the oldest one in HCMC. According to many historical documents, when Qui Citadel (Bat Quai Citadel) was constructed under the Nguyen dynasty, there was a bustling market on Ben Nghe river, at a wharf near Qui Citadel, so people at that time called it the Citadel-Wharf market. In 1912, the French colonial government built a new market and on March 28, 1914, Ben Thanh was officially open at the same location where it stands today.
   The market has 16 entrances with 4 main gates and 12 side gates. Inside the market, there are two main intersecting paths, each one is 5 meters long and has 22 “alleys” from the Northern gate to the Southern gate, 9 “alleys” from the Eastern gate to the Western gate. The most outstanding feature is the square clock tower on the roof at the facade, the three faces of South – East – West are all set up with clocks.
   Since the day Ben Thanh Market was first introduced, it has been believed that this market is for the upper class, the rich who are very picky in choosing products, causing traders to search for best products only. Through generations, many traders still keep their tradition of selecting “the topnotch products” to sell. With such credibility of traders, the overseas Vietnamese, foreign visitors coming to HCMC all think of Ben Thanh market first and foremost when they want to go shopping in order to look at the old-age symbol in the city and to get the best products.

Binh Tay Market: a wholesale market for the pleasure of visitors
   Having existed for more than 90 years, Binh Tay Market (Thap Muoi street, District 6) is also one of the largest and long-standing markets of the city.
   In the earlier years of the 20th century, Saigon market (the area of Cho Lon Post Office today) was an area for Chinese traders, also called “the Big market”. Due to the increasing number of people who came to make a living, the market became overcrowded. In 1928, Merchant Quach Dam bought a 2,5-acre muddy piece of land in Binh Tay village, leveled it and then proposed to the local government to build a market for traders, on the condition that he was able to construct a few blocks around the market for rent. The proposal was approved by the then Cho Lon provincial government.
   The name of the new Binh Tay market was given in 1978. When it was completed (1929) and open in March 1930, the market was called the Big New market. It is believed that this was the biggest and most modern market in Southern Vietnam at the time. The market’s precinct was 25,000 square meters with a rectangular frontal and 12 entrance gates.
   Constructed based on the Western techniques but imbued with Chinese architecture, added with some patterns and motifs of Cham art, it was considered as one of the most beautiful markets in HCMC and recognized as an architectural monument in 2017. 
   The highest middle tower of the market is designed with the sculpture of “two dragons flanking a pearl”, there are also 4 faces of clock right below. The entire roof is covered with yin-yang overlapped tiles that create a unique feature. The market has a space in the middle for adequate ventilation so that over time, when the market becomes more crowded, the stalls in the market remain airy.
   At first, the market had no storey. In 1992, it was remodeled and built an additional storey. In 2006, the area of Tran Binh – Le Tan Ke of the market was renovated to be more spacious. In 2018, the market was repaired and embellished but all the old patterns and details were preserved. Over the years, the market has attracted lots of international tourists because of its ancient architectural beauty.

Tan Dinh Market: A memorable market to visitors
   The market bears the French colonial architecture and is an unforgettable place in the heart of many people. The market was constructed in 1926 and opened in late July 1927. For over 93 years, Tan Dinh market has retained its ancient architecture. There is no pillar in the inner structure of the market but the roof is yet stable to shelter traders. The bell tower on top of the main gate is attached to the big clock below, it is told that in the old days, when the two hands rotated to meet exactly every hour, the bell rang. Now the bell remains in the tower, the clock still has its two hands as ancient traces of the market.
   So far, the term “rich market” remains the same because shoppers are willing to buy at a little higher price than in other markets knowing that the quality of the products are satisfactory. Traders in Tan Dinh market hold the reputation of selling “best food ever” from fish, meat, vegetables, and macerated sauce which makes people hooked. One time, people called Tan Dinh market “textiles market” because garment and textiles traders occupies not only the inner market, but also the houses along Hai Ba Trung street.
Story: Các Ngọc
Photo: Hữu Long, S.H.T
(Source: The HCMC Travel Magazine)


 

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