Ho Chi Minh Day 2: Cho Lon(Chinatown) | Saigon Square | Ben Thành market
Binh Tay market (in Chinatown) is under construction and it definitely wasn’t a good timing to go. We reached there feeling lost and wandered aimlessly trying to find the wholesale market and street food stalls. But all we saw was fresh produce and dried food stalls. We walked quite a long distance before we found a decent air-conditioned place to escape the heat.
After our so so chicken rice, we Uber to Saigon Center, where we feed baby C and rest our aching feets. And of course, trying vietnam coffee!
I am not a coffee person, but the Vietnam coffee is so aromatic! Their coffee is bitter but has a nice sweet aftertaste and I really enjoyed it. And of course the nice ambience of the cafe makes it even more enjoyable! Right opposite the atas (upmarket) Saigon Center is the Saigon square selling factory rejects and replicas.
I honestly can’t tell which are the replicas and which are the rejects and the pricing, while cheaper than the authentic brands, didn’t entice us to purchase anything. We didn’t spend a lot of time here as it is only 1 storey and a lot of the stuff are repetitive. So we head back to our hotel to enjoy our complimentary tea break!
Initially I thought it will just be simple afternoon tea and pastries. So imagine our surprise when they present us with these 2 plates of food! It’s a huge plus for us with a kid who loves fruits and small bites. The food were good and fruits were fresh. After a filling tea break, we rested our feet before embarking to the next market.
Ben Thành market, the one that many people comment that is extremely touristy and nasty with exorbitant prices, is the one that is most interesting. We didn’t experience anything unpleasant. True that the vendors will try to talk to you but simply walk on with a smile, and nothing that they can do to you. The variety here is more diverse and while the shops are repetitive, you can still find an array of local products, souvenirs, Vietnam coffees and fashion. When night falls, the indoor market will close and set up outside forming the night market.
It started closing fairly early at around 6pm. With the night market opening at 7pm, we still have an hour to spare. We walked around the area and found many manicure shops around and because Baby E has been a little vain pot, we decided to pamper her with her first manicure! It’s great that they have foot massage too so Daddy E can join in the fun! A manicure + color for Baby E, a pedicure and manicure + color for me and a foot massage for Daddy E came up to around S$30!
Can’t tell from the photo but she was overjoyed, and the manicurist made her happier by giving her extra glittery nail colours. After the manicure we went to Ben Thanh night market, which opens at 7pm. It basically occupies the roads that surrounds the Ben Thanh Day market.
We tried the five-color sticky rice (Xôi) as shown in the middle and it was yums! It is a sweet or savory Vietnamese dish made from glutinous rice and other ingredients. Then we went to have seafood zi char at their night market
Food was pretty good and served fast. And the best part was, they have people who peel the prawns for you! Perfect for people who love prawns but hate peeling lol. After dinner we had to hastily go back to our hotel as Baby C was grumpier than grumpy cat.