Saigon is a city where you can shop till you drop; plenty of markets, stores and boutiques are eager to help you part with your cash. Many of these places however have become a little too focused on tourists and visiting them may give you little in the way of a cultural experience. Add that to the fact that many places basically sell the same copies of popular Western brands and things can get depressing. Luckily, a new market is breathing some life into the stagnant world of Saigon fashion: the Saigon Flea Market.
Held once a month, on different days each month (check their website below for exact dates), the Saigon Flea Market is located on the second floor, and the adjacent outside courtyard, of the Boomerang Bistro, which is part of the Crescent in District 7. Although relatively new, starting in 2011, the market has started to become quite the event, with dozens of stalls attracting thousands of both local and international customers. Booths are located both in the outside courtyard, which can get a little hot, and in the inside air conditioning of the second floor, which can get a little cramped as more shoppers flood into the market.
The market’s style is unique in Saigon. Instead of finding the same knock off designer handbags and T-shirts with silly logos the organisers of the Flea Market go out of their way to ensure that each booth is somewhat unique. At any given booth you will find a mix of antiques, art, handmade clothing, vintage fashion and toys. It definitely has an artisan feeling as young aspiring designers and artists looking to jumpstart their careers in fashion and design operate most of the booths.
An atmosphere of artistic support pervades the market, and you can feel good about supporting the local scene and also rest easy in the fact that some proceeds from the Flea Market go toward several charities helping the poor and disadvantaged. Walking around the market is a great opportunity to interact with some local and friendly Saigon residents who take pride in their design skills.
The Flea Market is open from 14:00 till 23:00, but those first few hours can be a bit scorching. I recommend beating the heat by dropping into the Boomerang and having one of their delicious smoothies. At around 80,000 VND they are a tad expensive as Saigon goes but they are worth every penny. (My favourite is the mixed berry.) If you’re looking for a cheaper option there is a 24-hour store within walking distance where you can get a cold bottle of water for around 7,000 VND.
The Saigon Flea Market has become an event to which many people anxiously look forward. Not only can you find some grotesquely cute stuff but it also gives you some insight into the popular trends and styles among Saigon’s younger and more trendy community. And prices are reasonable: you can easily find clothes at around the 200,000 VND pricepoint.
By Angela Schonberg
Last updated on 2nd October, 2014.