The history of Vietnam has long observed the presence of the Chinese. Over 200 years ago, before the French had occupied Saigon, they arrived here in search for a new life and a new business opportunity. Nowadays, there are many living areas of the Chinese inside Saigon, among which is Lon Market (Cho Lon) covering district 5, district 6, district 10, and a part of district 11. In this post, we invite you to Binh Tay Market, belonging to Lon Market area, where the activities and lifestyles of the Chinese in Vietnam are clearly depicted.
Binh Tay Market, situated in district 6, was built by a Chinese businessman named Quach Dam. Its architecture carried Eastern Asian style and applied the temporary Western technique. It is considered as one of the most beautiful markets in Saigon.
The market borders with four roads. The main gate is on 22 Tran Binh which can be easily reached by bus or motorbike. There are two times that you can choose to pay a visit: at busy dawn or at night (night market.) However, no matter what time of the day, the market is always willing to hug sellers and buyers.
In the morning, the areas surrounding the market are full of street vendors selling steamed sticky rice with Chinese sausage, sweet sticky rice, and banh mi. Inside the market, you can see a variation of dried products on the right side, such as dried squid, dried fish, dried beef, dried deer, dried banana, and dried jackfruit. In contrast, the left stalls sell toys, watches, many types of jewelry, and other items in grocery stores. Behind that is a place of unique fruits of each season and year-round fruits with the board of “bao ăn” (guaranteed eating.) which is a common trading way of the Saigonese.
“Guaranteed eating” does not mean that you can eat for free, but it means that sellers guarantee the fruits’ quality with the customers, indicating that you can open and eat the fruit right there. If it is not good, then you will not have to buy it. This kind of trading is only applied in the booth that has a “guaranteed eating” sign, so please pay attention; otherwise, you will have to pay for the fruits you have tried.
Besides, you can also enjoy and take pictures of unique Eastern Asian architecture with modern Western techniques, and ancient Champa art there.
At night, the market is getting even noisier and busier. Starting from 19:00 till dawn, Binh Tay Market is “opened” by small sellers who usually sell wholesale goods and street food for young people. It is also a common place for street vendors to pick up their goods. Clothes, belts, wallets, shoes, jewelry, cosmetic, and bags for both men and women are placed on the floor with affordable price, which meets fashion demand for all tourists with a “long-stay” plan in Saigon.
People normally say: If you want to learn about local people in any region, you need to do three things. Firstly, talking freely and openly to them like a friend; secondly, observing their culture, old architecture, and old habits; and lastly, enjoying their authentic dishes. When visiting the Binh Tay market, you can practice these three ways at one time in order to have a better understanding of the lives of the Chinese in Vietnam.
Long Bui – Tien Le