Ben Thanh market is one of Saigon's most famous landmark. The market has been set up since the French occupation.
The original market was situated 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 come was reason for its name (Ben means pier or port and Thanh means 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.
In District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, not far from the main tourist location, Ben Thanh is the largest market in Saigon and one of its major attraction. It sells almost everything - food, clothes, jewellery, live snakes, vehicle spares, medicine, and so on. It's popularity means prices are more expensive than elsewhere, however the experience values it.
Cholon, once the original Saigon, is Ho Chi Minh City's 'Chinatown'. Although the majority of Chinese traders left Vietnam at the end of the war, it's still a major commercial area with several markets.
Vietnam travel guide of the markets always bustles and narrow aisles are a shoppers paradise, providing you're not claustrophobic or not keen on haggling. Ask the price (the vendor will probably use a calculator to show you) and offer around half the amount.
Don't worry about a low bid - stall holders love negotiating and would be up set if you give up too early.
Some of the goods on sale are imported and some are smuggled.
There's a person in somewhere. Many are fakes, so apply common sense - finding a genuine article on the luxury goods stalls would be like picking up a gold bar on the pavement.
If the noise and crowds get to be a bit much, there's a 'food court' in the centre. Dozens of little stalls provide a confusing range of food at near nothing prices. Don't expect for burgers or doughnuts, although - it's basic Vietnamese cuisine only!