just to follow up with ben thanh, here’s the other market that people bandy about in ho chi minh: binh tay. they sound phonetically very similar, so be careful what you tell the taxi driver – my dad tripped up on his instructions a few times.
despite our years of coming to ho chi minh, this was our first visit at this market and probably our last.
this place feels more local-centric than the touristy ben thanh, bustling with people shouting at each other and floors strewn with dirty water and fallen goods, not worst but not much more appealing than any other market.
the first floor is a wet market, and also holds small stores with dry goods like dried seafood and legumes – and the entire compound is busy with people dropping off and picking up goods. the floors above seem to hold an assortment of house goods and clothes, but we didn’t have a thorough look at the place.
I think bin thay would appeal if you were the sort of traveller who finds contentment getting down and dirty, but we aren’t – and we do sometimes embrace the comforts. I have heard that this place is much cheaper than ben thanh – but we weren’t after that much of a shop, so that fact didn’t make this place any more alluring.
p.s. we ordered one of those cakes – really more a kueh, but english is limited that way – from a lady peddling them from a small store next to the market. it was essential mashed tapioca formed into a patty and grilled over charcoal, barely sweet and quite comforting in the same way sweet potatoes can be.