Saigon can rival just about any major city in the world when it comes to a destination for a shopping. The Vietnamese love nothing better than shopping tip they drop, and Saigon is the city in which to do it. Markets in Vietnam are a must see, they are a riot of noise colour and chaos. Shopping centres and malls are everything from modern western Malls to uniquely Asian affairs. Whatever your preference, Saigon has the shopping mecca for you.
Ben Thanh Market
Address: Trung Tran Nguyen Han, District 1
Sitting on one of the busiest roundabouts in the city, this French built market is the reincarnation of a previous busy market that was destroyed by fire in 1870. Originally sitting on the banks of the Saigon river it moved location after the firs and has enjoyed a unique place amongst Saigon’s shopping experiences. It was completely renovated in 1985 to what it is today. Narrow aisles, hundreds of stalls, noise and a craziness that has to be seen to be believed. You can buy just about anything in this most Vietnamese of shopping emporiums. The facade looks superb at night when illuminated and the surroundings streets have all joined in the fun.
Address: 77 – 89, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1
This is an institution in Saigon, the most Vietnamese of all the large shopping centres and a bustling emporium at the weekends and in the evenings. It seems impossible to even walk through at the busiest times such is the narrowness of the aisles. A cross between an indoor market and a map, it falls between two stools, whilst still making a statement and doing a good job. It is located at the junction with Le Loi in District 1. Such is its popularity that it is often impossible to park a motorbike outside. There is an overflow car park over the road, but even that gets full. Some tourists prefer this to Ben Thanh, there is certainly something unique about it. The two are so close to each other though, it makes perfect sense to visit both on the same shopping trip.
Diamond Plaza Department Store
Address: 34 Le Duan, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
This is a huge shopping complex right in the heart of District 1. The two towers dominate the skyline, one at 22 storeys the other 15. Its location just by Notre Dame Basilica makes it impossible to miss. With 57,000 square metres of retail space, this is a big shop. It was one of the first modern style shopping mills to open in the city and has a special place in the hearts of local people. That being said, Vietnamese love new things and as other malls have opened, Diamond Plaza has lost the crowds. This of course makes it a wonderful place to go. It has a large video games arcade, which does draw large numbers of locals, as this form of entertainment, grips the imaginations of young Asian people. Prices here are as Western malls, but you at least know that you are buying the genuine article.
Address: 30 Bo Bao Tan Thang, Son Ky Ward, Tan Phu District
The Japanese giant, Aeon opened the new Mall, their first in Vietnam at the start of 2014 It sits close to Tan Son Airport, in Tan Phu District and the soft opening certainly drew the crowds. So much so in fact, that queues started forming hours before the 10.00am opening on January 1st. The official grand opening was on the 10th January. There is 50,000 square metres of floor space and 1,500 employees selling products that are one third Japanese, one third Vietnamese and one third from around the world. This is already the favoured shopping Mall among wealthy middle class Vietnamese. The shopping centre made bold statements fright from the off. Light shows and music performances heralded the open weeks and months of trading. Over a half a million LED lights illuminate the inside the mall.
An Dong Market
Address: 18 An Duong Vuong Street, District 5
Known locally as The Craft Market, this is a three storey emporium in the heart of Cholon, Saigon’s China Town in District 5. It is the handicraft enthusiast’s dream, selling everything that anyone could need for their favourite hobby. Articles here are priced must cheaper than in District 1’s trendier shops. Wooden arts and crafts here are really exquisite, particularly the puppets. Also sold is lacquer work and wonderful knitwear. An Dong is famous for its fabrics, which are second to none here. Its location next door to the Windsor Plaza Hotel, makes it easy to find. This is probably the best place in town for picking up a unique holiday souvenir or gift.
Address: Nguyen Van Linh Parkway, Phu My Hung Tan Phu Ward, District 7
District 7 over the river is one of the trendiest parts of the city, Phu My Hung is the smartest part of this district. This is a very western styled, modern area of the city and where many expats choose to live. The mall is everything you would expect from a modern mall in a major western city. The Mall has some 45,000 square metres of well thought out high end retail space. Stores here include: Diesel, DKNY, FCUK, Gloria Jeans Coffee, Nike, CK fashion, Gap, Bread Talk and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and many, many more. There is also a popular MegaStar Cinemas multiplex. With good quality pubs and restaurants surrounding it, this place would hold its own in any major capital city in the world.
Binh Tay Market
Address: 57 Thap Muoi 2, District 6
Saigon’s best kept shopping secret is situated in District 6 out to the southwest of the city. It was originally in Cholon and is in fact still referred to, by the Chinese community, as The New Cholon Market. It covers an entire city block bordered by four busy roads. It was built by a Chinese business man called Quach Dam. Starting from nothing he used to recycle rubbish before branching into other businesses. Previously a statue stood here in his memory in the centre of the market. That has now been moved to a new home in the Fine Arts Museum. For a genuine Vietnamese experience, this is better than Ben Thanh, being a lot less commercial. The best place in town for purchasing rice, it has hundreds of different types, some of them uniquely Vietnamese. Some of the best Chinese inspired street food in the city is available here.
The Parkson Paragon
Address: 3 Nguyen Luong Bang, Phu My Hung, District 7
The Parkson Paragon Shopping Centre is probably the largest and one of the more modern in the whole of Saigon. Parkson have malls at different locations within the city, a new one opened in An Phu in District 2 at the Cantavil condo block, oat Christmas 2013. However, the Phu My Hung site is the flag ship store. This is a very up market area and n keeping with that, the Paragon is a stately looking building both inside and out. its impressive stonework, with its arched windows caertain look the part. Designer labels mix with local brands, the food court is clean and pleasant and very much de rigueur for these kind of shopping centres. Designer names include Estee Lauder, Jean Paul Gaultier, Clinique, D’Fleur, DKNY, Elizabeth Arden, L’apothiquaire, D’Fleur, Leneige, Leneige, and Kanebo. There is an also entertainment centre and the ubiquitous multiplex cinema.
Address: 72 Le Thanh Ton & 45A Ly Tu Trong Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
This consists of two stores next to each other and offers the largest shopping space in the city. This is a superb location close to the Opera House and Notre Dame Basilica on Le Thanh Ton which runs right through the centre of town. Such was the success of this outlet that they had to open a second building just round the corner to keep up with demand. This is a cool looking place with open fronted trendy looking establishments. The food court here differs from the majority of other food halls. Instead of unrelated vendors serving average food to customers seated in a canteen type atmosphere, here they have a collection of smart, good restaurants gathered around a central area. Its a really nice space. The gardens out to the front are popular with young people in the evenings who sit and chat in the cool evening air.
Address: all over the city, particularly in the sides streets near Ben Thanh Market
No trip to Saigon would be complete without shopping the small streets around Ben Thanh Market. Tiny shops selling leather goods, camera gear, T shirts, jeans, souvenirs and all sorts of stuff. The vendors are always happy to chat to foreigners and the whole place has a lively fun vibe about it. They are bargains to be had everywhere and for the most part the products are of a reasonable quality. It is good to get here in the early evening and couple it with Ben Thanh and Saigon Square. As day turns to night the whole place takes on a completely different appearance and atmosphere.
This is just a collection of some of the very best shopping experiences in the amazing city of Saigon. Tells us if you have a preference that is not listed. Let us know your experiences in the establishments that we have reviewed.