May 02 2011
Have you ever wondered how fast a 100m-long street can become an outdoor night market? If so, head down to Phan Boi Chau or Phan Chu Trinh at around 18:00 to watch the literal mad dash of vendors setting up their stalls for the Ben Thanh night market. Starting at 19:00, the night market is popular with locals and one of my favourite places to spend an evening in Saigon.
As soon as shopkeepers are finished setting up their tents and plastic stool-filled restaurants, it’s time to check out the well-lit booths. While not as much variety may be displayed compared to what you can find elsewhere, I like this shopping experience because you get so much more elbow room than you do inside Ben Thanh, or any other local market for that matter, to search for souvenirs or new clothes.
Be warned that although the road is closed to car traffic, you should be prepared to dodge the occasional motorbike.
After I’ve shaken my shopping bug, it’s time to grab some food and that’s where it gets hard to choose. Luckily, most of the restaurants have menus on display, some of them with large pictures. Unless I’m craving a particular Vietnamese dish, I usually cruise the street until something catches my eye.
Every local favourite is available here, from pho through to delicious seafood and barbecued pork. The food is reasonably priced, as are the drinks, and the market is open until midnight or sometimes later, for those who want to drink the night away.
With great food and a good atmosphere, the night market is a must-see, even if you’ve been to the market during the day. Join the crowd, grab a drink, grab a stool, and enjoy a unique slice of life in the city.
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