There’s much more beneath the pillbox-style clock tower of Ben Thanh Market than just the cattle and seafood pictured on its front wall. The city’s busiest market for almost a century, and known to the French as the Halles Centrales, Ben Thanh’s dense knot of trade has caused it to burst at the seams, disgorging stalls onto the surrounding pavements. Inside the main body of the market, a tight grid of aisles, demarcated according to produce, teems with shoppers, and, if it’s souvenirs you’re after, a reconnaissance here will reveal conical hats, basketware, bags, shoes, lacquerware, Da Lat coffee and Vietnam T-shirts. Sadly, all stalls are now designated ‘fixed price’, so there’s no more good-natured bargaining, and prices are generally a bit higher than elsewhere. Walk through to the wet market along the back of the complex, and you’ll find buckets of eels, clutches of live frogs tied together at the legs, heaps of pigs’ ears and snouts and baskets wedged full of hens, among other gruesome sights. If you can countenance the thought of eating after seeing – and smelling – this patch of the market, com, pho and baguette stalls proliferate towards the back of the main hall. In the evenings, foodstalls specializing in seafood set up along the sides of the market, attracting a mixed crowd of locals and tourists.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Vietnam features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Vietnam

The verdant limestone stacks of Ha Long Bay and the bustling streets of Hanoi are well established (and essential) stops along Vietnam’s tourist trail. But th…

02 Nov 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook