Ben Thanh Market ( Chợ Bến Thành) also known as Saigon Market is a famous place for long-time dwellers in Ho Chi Minh city as well as visitors to the country’s most bustling hub. Ben Thanh Market offers visitors all they need such as clothes (the famous Vietnamese Ao Dai costume and also Vietnamese hat), footwear, accessories, jewelry, hardware, pet shops, crafts, flowers, spices, nuts, food and restaurants (see Vietnamese cuisine). In the market you can find everything from food to all kinds of Vietnam souvenirs symbolic of all regions of the country.
For many Vietnam tourists as well as the local people, the day is just too hot to go shopping, while the evening is an ideal time to meet and gather outside to enjoy meal or drink under the stars. Ben Thanh night market has the different appearance from the daily market. After 6:00 pm, a part of traders mounted their street stalls and shelves on the outside of the Ben Thanh market and all the restaurants and food without exception, stalls continue its activity at the gates of Cho Ben Thanh market. Night – time market is another facet of the venue that is getting increasingly popular for the city’s citizenry as well as tourists.
Many shopkeepers set up their tents on the both sides of Ben Thanh Market when the city lights up the night. They are preparing for their business at night. At 6:00 pm, they close the two streets in the West and the East gates of Ben Thanh Market to make way for the night vendors. This is very convenient to the visitors and their second business. Only motorbikes are allowed to cross the streets. All the items in the outdoor night market are diversified and abundant enough for a night jaunt despite the modest number of stalls.
With the reasonable prices, local people as well as tourists can enjoy the specialties of the South, the Central or even the North of Vietnam. Visitors also can enjoy other tasty dishes. Various kinds of Vietnamese noodles are served pork, beef, chicken or seafood in different types of sweet, sour or peppery soup. Everyone can satisfy with warming bowls of noodles adorned with traditional herbal leaves and vegetable making the soups subtle. Visitors 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.
Especially, tourists can order delicious fresh grilled seafood. Many tourists often drop in the barbeque area. Most of them find it interesting to try beef grilled in a tile over a small coal cooker, inhaling the fragrance of sizzling grilled meat. If one refuses the self-cooking joy, he or she can also choose other ready-made barbeque such as marinated pork or seafood.
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. Although it is just a night food court in a less-than-200-meter street, the food is quite hygienic and sophisticated in cooking. Most of the restaurants here demonstrate their menus in English and some other foreign languages with appetizing pictures which make it easier for tourists to order. It would be a wise choice to cruise the street until something catches your eyes because most of Vietnamese foods taste as good as they look.
Ben Thanh Market not only offer a night food court with diverse cuisines but also an ideal place for tourists to experience a leisure walk at night, looking for little pretty stuff to mark their holiday to Viet Nam. After fulfilling the stomach, customers can shop around for shoes, silk clothing, stone jewelry, and souvenirs before deciding to buy some gifts for friends or family. 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.
Night markets are one of the cultural beauties of Vietnam. Night markets offer a great window to understand the lifestyle and food culture of local people. The miniature Sai Gon at Ben Thanh Market at night can bring tourists an interesting chance to experience fully the local life and culture in your Vietnam discovery tour.
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