Vietnam remains one of the most popular destinations for Australians to visit, and it’s no wonder. The south-east Asian country has so much to offer including stunning landscapes, beautiful beaches, warm locals, culture, history and, of course, a mouthwatering cuisine. And, according to Tara Kennaway, Asia Regional Product Manager at Intrepid Travel (and self-confessed ‘market-a-holic’), Vietnam is the place to go for markets.
With her insider knowledge, Tara has shared with us six of the best markets in Vietnam to check out.
Sapa, in the northwest of Vietnam, is known for its cascading rice terraces and views of the plunging valley. Travellers can also get a chance to meet the H’mong, a community of hill tribe people settled in the Cat Cat village where they can learn about their rich culture.
Market must-do: Sunday Market
Sundays at the main square are busy in Sapa not just for shopping, but also for socialising. Many H’mong and Dao people from nearby villages come here to sell, shop and relax with friends and family. Visitors can enjoy locally grown stone fruit before heading upstairs to peruse the locally produced traditional fabric products like skirts, blankets and bags.
Residing on the banks of the Red River is Hanoi, one of the most ancient capitals in the world and Vietnam’s second largest populated city. Tea lovers can enjoy a trip to a traditional tea house where they can taste the remarkable flavours of Vietnamese tea.
Market must-do: Quang Ba Flower MarketB
One for the early risers, Hanoi’s main market for fresh flowers is liveliest between 2am and 4am. Visitors won’t be taking home souvenirs, but can enjoy the lively scenes of wholesalers purchasing flowers for the day ahead.
Hanoi Old Quarter
Also known as the Ancient Quarter, Hanoi’s Old Quarter resides at the northern end of Hoan Kiem Lake where travellers will find French colonial architecture, local shops and iconic street food. Hanoi’s Old Quarter is also home to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, one of the most historic sites in the city.
Market must-do: Weekend Night Market
Every Friday to Sunday night several streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter close to traffic and fill up with stalls offering clothing, souvenirs and accessories. There are cultural performances of dancing and music and plenty of iconic Hanoi dishes to try such as pho, cha ca, bun cha and xoi.
Ho Chi Minh City
Known for its French Colonial landmarks, Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most popular destinations for travellers visiting Vietnam. Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is one of the top locations to try pho (beef noodle soup) and banh mi (pork rolls).
Market must-do: Ben Thanh MarketB
The oldest surviving market in Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh is a great spot to visit any time of day or night. This market is busy with locals shopping for food, clothing and household supplies during the day and at night it’s a hub for socialising. The street food options are varied, plentiful and sure to excite the taste buds with the locals strongly recommending the banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) alongside a ca phe su da (traditional Vietnamese iced milk coffee).
The old port city of Hoi An is full of colonial architecture, shopping, traditional street food and has one of the highest concentrations of tailors with over 400 local tailors to visit. Travellers can also master the fine art of rolling spring rolls by attending a local cooking class.
Market just-do: Central Market
Vietnamese food is known for being incredibly healthy and locals pride themselves of the freshness of their meals that are made with market-fresh ingredients from their morning market visit. In the UNESCO-listed ancient town of Hoi An, visitors can witness the lively buying and selling of fresh fish early in the morning. This market is great for travellers at all hours of the day to purchase items such as fresh fruit and vegetables, spices and homewares.
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue is home to some of the treasures of Vietnam’s royal past. A must-see for travellers visiting Hue includes a trip to an active Buddhist monastery, Thien Mu Pagoda, which originated in 1601.
Marke must-dot: Dong Ba Market
This is the biggest market in Thua Thien Hue Province and has been open since 1887. Locals shop for necessities while visitors can find souvenirs like non la bai tho (conical hats with poems woven into them). The food court is a great place to try local delicacies like bun bo hue (beef with vermicelli noodles in broth).
Find out more: intrepidtravel.com.au