Ben Thanh market is one of the most famous addresses in HCM City. It is not a market, but a place which preserves traditional culture values of Vietnam, particularly gastronomic culture.
What are the characteristics of Ben Thanh market’s food? Why has this market becomes a must-see destination and a symbol of HCM City?
The market developed from informal markets created by early 17th century street vendors gathering together near the Saigon River. The market was formally established by the French colonial powers after taking over Gia Dinh citadel in 1859. This market was destroyed by fire in 1870 and rebuilt to become Saigon’s largest market. In 1912 the market was moved to a new building and called the New Ben Thanh Market to distinguish it from its predecessor. The building was renovated in 1985.
At present, Ben Thanh market is in the city’s hub and a familiar address for Vietnamese people and international tourists.
Like Dong Xuan market in Hanoi, Ben Thanh market has nearly all kinds of goods. However, the most outstanding “products” in this market are its food stuffs.
Passing souvenirs, fashion and footwear stores, visitors will see the zone for food. They will see hundreds of cuisines sourced from every corner of the country: from Hanoi’s pho (noodle) to Hue’s banh beo (rice cake), Chinese Vietnamese’s hu tieu (noodle), spring rolls, etc. Gastronomic culture in Ben Thanh market is the wonderful mixture of cuisines of different regions to form a diversified and unique feature for the market, which are both familiar and new. The market is quite narrow but perhaps it will help visitors feel “warm”.
Night market is a significant element of Ben Thanh market, where gastronomic culture is shown more clearly with broader space for visitors to taste Vietnamese cuisines.