If you’re going to visit Ho Chi Minh City your visit will not be complete without visiting a local market and Binh Tay is the largest traditional market in the city.
When people talk about markets in Ho Chi Minh City, much of the love goes to the more central Ben Thanh market. Don’t get us wrong; Ben Thanh is a great place to go if you want to get knockoff designer goods or swarmed by people trying to sell you hammocks, but if you're in the market for a market that isn't selling ‘I Heart Pho’ T-shirts then Binh Tay market in Cholon is more on the money.
Binh Tay Market
Binh Tay Market, constructed by the French in the 1880s, is located in the centre of Vietnam’s largest Chinatown district. Unlike Ben Thanh Market in District 1, this market mainly serves the local population with its extensive range of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and seafood from regions across Vietnam.
Also known as Cholon Chinatown Market, Binh Tay Market occupies a two-storey building along Thap Moui Street. Travellers can also find an assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, and textiles that are sold in bulk, though goods are not varied compared to other (more touristy) markets in downtown Hanoi. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, Binh Tay Market is great for experiencing the local lifestyle and sampling unique Vietnamese-Chinese delicacies.
Traders at the busiest market in town have had 15 days to move all the their goods to a new, temporary market located in front of the existing one.
One of the gems of the market are vintage hand-painted signs hanging in front of stalls. Many of them are over 40 years old.
Nobody knows for sure what fate awaits those signs when the renovation starts. Many shops said they will replace their decades-old signage with new printed ones.
Binh Tay Market is also famous for its central courtyard and bagua-shaped design. Bagua is a Chinese religious motif that incorporates eight trigrams such as the sky, fire and wind and the trigrams are arranged around a circle symbolizing yin and yang.
“It’s so hot in here, we can hardly breathe. And this is just the third day we have been here,” said one of the shoe sellers. The renovation of Saigon's biggest wholesale market is scheduled to take a year, but many vendors believe it could take two years.