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Shopping in Ho Chi Minh is a mix of swanky malls housing international fashion brands to traditional markets selling authentic handicrafts and street food. Bargaining is a must-do when you’re shopping at Bin Tay and Ben Thanh Market, as initial prices stated by vendors are much higher than the goods are actually worth.
Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. For shopping heaven, head to the market preferably early morning to pick up some bargains including lacquer ware, bamboo goods, arts and crafts. Also on sale are clothes, textiles, luggage, watches and an assortment of electronic goods. Spices, nuts and local fruits heavily scent the air which is also filled with the chatter of tourists and locals haggling for bargains. Do note however that some items will be strictly fixed price.
The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day. One of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
Save your appetite and head to Ben Thanh Market in the evening where you can be served some real street style, local food at one of the 20 or so eateries that surround the market building. Chefs will cook in front of you with an endless array of cuisine choices including vegetarian noodles, fresh seafood, crispy rice pancakes and steamed cakes. You will be in great local company as most of the places thrive with locals enjoying a bite to eat and a quick drink on their way home from work.
Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.
Also known as Cholon Chinatown Market, Binh Tay Market occupies a two-storey building along Thap Moui Street. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
Binh Tay Market is accessible within a 15-minute motorcycle taxi ride from downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The best time to visit is in the morning as that’s when the locals come for breakfast and shop for fresh produce and household supplies.
With more than 250 shops, Vincom Center is Ho Chi Minh City’s biggest shopping mall – so big in fact, that they have separated it into two separate buildings just across the street from each other.
Vincom Center A is housed in a delightful French styled period building connected to The Continent Hotel. Vincom Center A is the smaller and prettier one, with a beautiful, baroque styled facade and nothing but the top brands in world fashion pulling customers in with inventive window displays: think Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren and Hermes. As well as premium fashion, there are a limited number of electronics retailers and bespoke home decor shops on the higher floors. On the basement floor is a children’s playpen called Kids Yard and just next door, an excellent Paris Baguette bakery that sells a wide range of goods and some of the most delicious baguettes in Ho Chi Minh.
Just a quick hop across Dong Khoi Street is Vincom Center B, occupying the first five storeys of a modern, glass-fronted skyscraper. From the exterior, it couldn’t look more different.
Instead of ornate French arches, there is a sheer glass frontage stretching up 26 storeys.
If you are looking for international products then this should be your first stop as this is where most international luxury brands have their flagship stores, like Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Charles & Keith and a host of jewellery and perfume shops.
This shopping mall is a little easier to navigate as it is built around a central bank of elevators so shoppers can see what is on the floors above and below.
On the basement floor there is an excellent food court with Buds Ice Cream, Carl’s Jr burgers, Seoul Garden, and many other offerings from across the world.
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