Amidst the bustling city streets in Hồ Chí Minh City, filled with shabbily dressed street peddlers, alongside the ancient architecture and markets with names like Bến Thành and Bình Tây, there are always great numbers of tourists.
Bến Thành market, built by the French in 1870, located in District 1 is a must see destination for most all tourists.
Trade is always brisk in the morning as vendors and market goers haggle over everything from clothes, footwear, arts and handicrafts, brocade, jewellery to specialty foods.
As an age-old commercial centre, it draws multitudes of foreigners speaking a multiplicity of languages.
Bình Tây Market (informally referred to as Chợ Lớn Market) with its elegant Chinese facade topped with distinctive reddish-brown roof tiles, and a yellowy coloured central clock have made it the most attractive and photogenic market in Sài Gòn.
Much of the trade that goes on at Bình Tây Market is wholesale.
Many Vietnamese who own stalls at other markets purchase wares in bulk at Bình Tây Market for resale at their own market.
The market is heavily stocked with body care products like shampoos, body lotions and creams.
It is also especially good for household items and a galore of electronic devices.
If you’re looking for the trendiest most fashionable and multi-stylistic watch, you will most assuredly find it in Bình Tây market, just be prepared to bargain to get it at a good price.
Shopping on demand
On Lê Lai street in District 1, just 20 metres far from Bến Thành market, tourists can choose from a legion of unique and beautiful suitcases or handbags.
If you are a fashionista or a tourist with the ability to look beyond the trends set by others and create your own artistic style then you won’t want to miss Sài Gòn Square.
The shopping centre gathers both clothes and handbags from common to the sophisticated.
Prices are rarely listed, but don’t hesitate to bargain.
Nguyễn Trãi street at night is also a most fascinating place for purchasing clothes.
Drawings for interior decoration are found on Trần Phú street in District 5.
There are generally fewer customers here, tourists can relax and spend more time contemplating the drawings.
Hồ Chí Minh City seems to have a specific street for everything, and shoes are no exception.
For tourists who like stylist footwear with good quality, they should come to Lý Chính Thắng street in District 3, where the latest and favourite fashions can be found.
Another address is Lưu Văn Lang street in District 1, to the left of Bến Thành market.
There are sandals for foreigners.
A part of this shopping centre is set aside exclusively for children.
Việt Nam is often touted as the custom tailoring capital of the world. \
Tourists searching for a nice cloth for a gift or Áo Dài (traditional long dress), should visit Soái Kình Lâm cloth market.
This is a wholesale market so the prices are cheaper and the choices are more abundant.
Cloths are diversified in colour, size and origin.
Antiques street (otherwise known as Lê Công Kiều street) is located just outside Bến Thành Market.
The stores are riddled by imitations but tourists may find a diamond in the rough!
Items include copper items (incense burner and altar), wood items (statues of Buddha), porcelain items (plates, bowls) and paper items (stamps and old money).
Be careful when buying “antiques” in Việt Nam however as it is illegal to export real antiques out of the country.