This, Saigon’s most well-known market, is conveniently positioned in District 1/downtown. The main entrance is through the archway beneath the clocktower, leading into a tightly packed and chaotically organised grid of commodities covering the likes of kitchenware, hardware, haberdashery, souvenirs and anything else between. Throw a few pickpockets into the mix and you have yourself a fully functioning city market.
Food, of course, is what always gets my attention and tucked away down the back is a bunch of bustling vendors with their own specialties of drinks and fresh-to-order local food. People sat up at counters slurping on pho, piles of chao tom (grilled minced prawn on sugarcane) ready for the buying and a lady stirring up a pot of prawn heads for stock.
Seeing we already had breakfast sitting in our stomachs we took a seat at Chè (stand 1046) for our first cà phê sua dá, one of many on the trip ahead. A glass of ice, condensed milk in the bottom and hot black coffee poured over. A bit of a stir and you’re off your tits on caffeine and sugar in no time. Great stuff.
The wet and meat market can be found on the peripheries and the beauty of this is that the vendors don’t harass you like many of them do inside. Beautifully fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, seafood and meat sit bundled or slumped in plastic containers or on chipped tile surfaces; no real sanitation but that’s how things roll in places like this. As the market winds down in the afternoon many outdoor stalls set up to cook up a storm of local edibles at impossibly low prices, so if you’re into street food this is the place to come.