For more than 90 years of foundation and development, Binh Tay Market still remains its position as a big commodity supplying center of the city. The market is also one of the top tourist attractions in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to the unique architecture in Chinese ancient style, the story about Quach Dam trader and the market’s history length.
Location: 57A Thap Muoi Street, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 6:00 – 19:00
Phone: +84 28.8571512; +84 28.8556130
Land area: 25,000 m2
Grand opening year: 1930
Binh Tay Market is located at 57A Thap Muoi Street, Ward 2, District 6, Ho Chi Minh City. It is about 8 km from Ben Thanh Market which is considered the city center. Visitors can take a taxi to reach the market, the taxi fare is about VND 16,000/km. The fare of motorbike taxi is cheaper, about VND 5,000/km Visitors can also take the Bus No.1 from Ham Nghi Bus Station – the nearest bus station to Ben Thanh Market to Cho Lon Bus Station from which is just a few minutes walk from Binh Tay Market.
The old market (1776s – 1928)
Cho Lon is an area covering District 5, parts of District 6, 10 and 11 where most of the Chinese people live in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1776s, Cho Lon was called Saigon or De Ngan, Ho Chi Minh City was called Ben Nghe, Bien Hoa City was called Cu Lao Pho.
After 1644 when the Ming Dynasty was replaced by Qing Dynasty, Nguyen Lord allowed Chinese people (also called the Hoa people) to live in South Vietnam including Cu Lao Pho. Chinese people was suppressed by the Tay Son troop in 1778 and 1782. So they had moved to De Ngan (Cho Lon) which had more advantages thanks to the river traffic and road.
According to Chinese customs, the Hoa people usually establish markets and do their business. They also opened a market called Cho Lon at the position of Cho Lon Central Post Office today. The more developing Cho Lon old market and Saigon area were, the more people from other places came here to do business and live. The market was too small and could not be developed more.
The new Cho Lon market was built by Quach Dam – a Chinese businessman so that we should review some information about him. Quach Dam is the trademark of Thong Hiep (1863 – 1927) who was a successful businessman in Cho Lon area. He was from Trieu An Village, Long Khanh, Trieu Chau China, lived his homeland with nothing. Arrived in De Ngan (Cho Lon), he earned his living by collecting and selling waste materials, duck feathers and used bottled. He became a rich person soon thanks to his hard-working and skills in sales and trading.
New Cho Lon Market (1928 – 1975)
In 1928, Quach Dam spent his money to build a new market. He purchased a swampy land lot with a total area of 25,000 m2 in Binh Tay village, then hired someone to level the ground plan and had the famous Tau Cuoc (also called Xang) Company to build a market basing on Chinese architectural design and applying French modern construction technologies.
The French government allowed the construction of the new market to start, gave Quach Dam permission to build house blocks around the market and place his statue in the middle of the market’s garden after his death. In 1930, Quach Dam’s family set up his copper statue in the market at his wish.
The new Cho Lon market which is spacious and clean was inaugurated in 1930. It has become a busy trading area thanks to the convenience of road and river traffic as well as the good skills in trading and sales of Chinese and Vietnamese traders. It plays an important role in commodity supplying sources throughout South Vietnam, Saigon and other countries until Independence Day (30th April 1975).
After Independence Day (1975) – Binh Tay Market
The revolutionary government took control of the market and arrange traders to continue their business and serve commodities for the whole country and neighboring countries including Cambodia, Lao, China. They also changed the name of the market from Cho Lon to Binh Tay.
After the Independence Day
In 1992, the People’s Committee of District 6 organized to repair and upgrade the heart of the market and new floor. In 2006, the areas of the market on Tran Binh Ke and Tran Binh Streets were constructed, the market was cleaner and more beautiful.
At the end of November 2016, the upgrade of Binh Tay Market and construction of a new basement were started. Binh Tay Market has been open since 15th November 2018.
Today, the statue was removed from the base in the market’s garden and is reserved at Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum. Traders made a new statue and placed it in front of the base.
Construction and Architecture
Outside the market
Quach Dam hired a French architect to design this market. As mentioned above, Binh Tay Market was inspired by Chinese ancient style and its construction applied the new technologies from France.
The heart of the market has a rectangular shape with a rectangular space in the middle, that forms a “khẩu” (Vietnamese), “mouth” (English), 口 (Chinese). The facade of the market is 89.2 m long, 108.6 m wide and 13.1 m high. Each side of the rectangle has canopies and roofs with delicately patterned yin and yang tiles red and green colors. The first floor has 2 roofs, the space between the upper roof and the lower roof makes the market aired, well ventilated and cool. Yellow and red colors dominate the market. At each corner of the market has a small tiled roof tower.
Binh Tay Market has 12 entrances, the most impressive is the main entrance on Thap Muoi Street with 3 tiled roofs tower and steel gates. The lowest part of the tower has a triangular dragon and phoenix ceramic mosaic mural in blue and white. They hang flags in different colors on the lowest roof and 2 red flags on the top of the triangle. The middle part of the tower is decorated with window patterns in Chinese style and has a square tiled roof with dragons at the corners. The tower’s top part of the entrance has a huge round clock on the facade and a decor named “lưỡng long tranh châu” (2 dragons scramble a pearl) which is very popular in Chinese ancient designs on the top. In addition, there are various wall sculptures telling stories and life in China.
Among famous and big markets in Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Tay Market is the only market that has a spacious garden in the middle. The center of the garden is the memorial of Quach Dam with white pillars around an octagonal pedestal decorated with floral patterns. As mentioned above, there was no original statue on the pedestal. The 4 stone unicorns and dragons as security guards around the pedestal still remain. They position a Vietnamese flag on the top of the pedestal and a bust of Quach Dam and an incense burner in front of the base. Traders usually place flowers and burn incense sticks here to show their thanks to Quach Dam and pray for success in business.
Quach Dam Statue
The bronze statue of Quach Dam was made in France. It represents a middle-aged man leaning forward a little bit, holding the act by which he donated to Cho Lon on his left hand and a scroll which lists the philanthropic works for which he was known: ECOLES MARCHES CEUVRES ASSISTANCE (schools, markets, works, assistance) on the right hand. Quach Dam wears Chinese traditional costume and lots of Legion of Honor.
Inside the market
Two wide stone staircases in ancient style lead to the first floor. They painted the inside of the market in yellow color which represents richness and luckiness. The high ceiling maket vendors and customers comfortable to be in the market. The market saves energy by allowing natural sunlight to pass through space between 2 roofs on the first floor.
In recent, Binh Tay Market has 2358 stalls, the market’s heart has 1446 stalls including 698 stalls on the ground floor and 748 stalls on the first floor. The external area has 912 stalls including 408 stalls in Tran Binh area, 176 stalls in Phan Van Khoe area and 328 stall in Le Tan Ke area. Stalls and products are arranged logically, grouped into trade area which sell similar items in order to promote the advantage of each item and improve customer experience.
What is sold at the market?
Fashion stores at Binh Tay Market sell different types of readty-to-wear clothes for men, women and children. Visitors can find house clothes, T-shirts, pants, trousers, dresses, skirts and traditional Ao Dai here. The quality of the products is rather good and prices are good if customers are good at bargaining.
Different kinds of fabrics for Ao Dai, suites, dresses, skirts, shirts, trousers, curtains, etc. made in Vietnam, Korea, Italy, Japan, China, Thailand are abundant at the market. They are usually cut into pieces that are enough to make a dress, a shirt, an Ao Dai or trousers.
Entering the footwear area, customers are lost in the world of slippers, sneakers, heels, flats, boots, pumps, wedges, loafer made from plastic, natural and artificial leather, fabrics, wood. They are decorated with lovely beads, metal, leather decoration items, etc.
It would be a big miss if visitors do not stop at food stalls in the market. A wide range of Vietnamese traditional foods are sold at the market at good prices. There is a large number of salted foods, fermented foods and pickles from seafood, vegetables, fruits. Hundreds of dried foods and spices made in Vietnam are available at hundreds of food stores.
Tips on shopping at Binh Tay Market
This is one of the biggest wholesale markets in Ho Chi Minh City so that it is always crowded and busy. So that customers may feel uncomfortable shopping here. Most of the vendors are Chinese and China-Vietnamese so they can speak Vietnamese and Chinese. They speak limited English so that it is not very easy for foreign visitors to shop and bargain at the market without a local friend or tour guide.
The market is one of the must-see attractions in Saigon, it is included in many Ho Chi Minh city tours thanks to the beautiful architecture and its important role in the developing of the city for over 100 years. If you do not have enough time to shop at other places in the city, you can choose your favorite items at Binh Tay Market. Some popular products that tourists buy at the market include dried foods, fabrics, clothes and accessories.
Bargaining is a must at the market, they usually offer tourists higher prices than original prices. They sometimes double the prices they would like to sell. What to do? Walk around the market, see how other customers deal for the best prices, learn about the fixed prices on items at the market, evaluate the items. Then it is time to deal the price with vendors. Increase your wishing price until the vendor agrees to sell it to you. You can stop bargaining and walk away if the price they ask is too high. Some vendors call you back and agree with the price you offer when you are a few steps away from the stall. I highly recommend to have a Vietnamese to go with you if you would like to shop at Binh Tay Market.