Ben Thanh market has long been one of Saigon’s most famous landmark. The market has been in existence since the French occupation. The original market was located on the shores of Ben Nghe river by old fort Gia Dinh. Its proximity to the fort and the river where merchants and soldiers would land was reason for its name (Ben meaning pier or port and Thanh meaning fort). In 1859, when the French invaded Saigon and overtook fort Gia Dinh, Ben Thanh Market was destroyed. It was rebuilt shortly thereafter and remained standing until it was moved to its present location in 1899 and is located in intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. Morning is the best time to visit this bustling market, where you can find everything from food to live and shopping also.
Visitors to Ho Chi Minh City are spoilt for choice for shops and most of them are within easy walking distance of each other. Many shops are found along Dong Khoi, which used to be the trendy Rue Catinat in French colonial times. Close by are Hai Ba Trung, Le Thanh Ton and Le Loi, which are also worth a look. Clothes is always a good buy but even better is to have clothes made up by one of the many tailors. There is always a good range of colored silk to choose from. For silk clothes and accessories try Khoi Silk, 81 Dong Khoi. Hand-embroidered tablecloths and napkins are very popular and luxury household items can be found at Song, 76D Le Thanh Ton.
Items such as boxes and vases made from lacquerware are extremely good value. The hill tribes of the Central Highlands and the north of the country now sell colorful woven bags and clothing in the city. Good souvenirs are marble figurines and vases and silk paintings and greetings cards. Busy Ben Thanh Market on Le Loi is crammed with items of interest to the visitor, such as clothes and souvenirs, as well as more general household items, food and flowers. It is open from early morning with an evening night market.
Shops are generally open seven days a week from around 08:00 until between 2000 and 2200. All shops tend to be on the small side but now there are several very smart department stores including Diamond Plaza on Le Duan, Saigon Center at 65 Le Loi and Lucky Plaza on Dong Khoi.The duty-free shop on the corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi in the center of downtown Saigon, will allow foreigners to make tax-free purchases of their stock. A passport and stamped yellow entry customs form must be shown. During the first five days of your visit, you can take goods away; otherwise they will be delivered to the international airport for you.
Saigon Square is a shopping paradise in Ho Chi Minh City. Right in front of the entrance is a motorcycle walkway park where the locals park their motorcycles and is managed “valet” for parking and retreival of their motorcycles. We had to manoeurve our ways through the motorcycles. Once inside, there are shops after shops selling clothes, bags, shoes, etc.
Advice given by our local people is that you need to bargain aggressively on the prices offered.
Saigon Center Mall is a higher price place selling all kinds of goods, clothes, furniture. Branded goods are available here, and the prices here are fixed.