Tan Dinh Market is one of the oldest and biggest markets in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon). The stunning architecture with the yellow facade and three bell towers and nearly 100 years of foundation and development has attracted lots of tourists. The market sells commodities to locals and tourists, it specializes in Ao Dai fabrics. Thanks to the good location, safety, high quality products and reasonable prices, the market is always listed as one of the top markets in Saigon.
Things to do in Tan Dinh market is unlimited. If you have chance to come to Ho Chi Minh city, do not miss visiting Tan Dinh market. Let’s walk around to see how people sell, bargain and buy products. Let’s see strange things and eat the best Vietnamese dishes at street food stalls in the market.
Location: 48 Ma Lo Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 2:00 AM: open for animal, meat area | 5:00 AM: open for food stalls & main gate | 6:00 PM: close main gate | 7:00 PM: close all gates except for food area | Some food stalls open 24/24
Grand opening year: 1926
Tan Dinh Market is located at 48 Ma Lo Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. The market is surrounded by Ma Lo Street on the East, Nguyen Huu Cau on the South, Hai Ba Trung on the West, and District 1 Hospital and Ba Le Chan Street on the North. It is not too far from the city center, just 3 km from Ben Thanh Market. Visitors can take a taxi that costs VND 16,000/km or motorbike taxi VND 5,000/km to the market.
Tan Dinh Area in the past
Tan Dinh was an important place in the hub of Saigon – “The Pearl of the Far East”. In 1960s and 1970s, people came to Tan Dinh to buy famous French coffee such as Jean Martin, Meilleur Gout coffee. Stylish men and women came to this area to order custom shoes at Trinh Shoes on Hai Ba Trung street – the main road in Tan Dinh area. Through the years, the shop has become a retail store which sell luxury brands. Opened in 1950, “Cam Hang Bac – Hanoi” medicine store (also called Nhan Phong Duong medicine store) was famous for pediatric aphthous ulcers treatment. The old house of the store with tile roof was replaced by a modern house.
Thu Huong cafe, Van Hoa cafe, Dinh Cong Trang Vietnamese pancake, Phu Huong pork pie… in Tan Dinh were well-known by everyone in the past. Things have been changed but there are some things still remain. Dinh Cong Trang becomes Vietnamese pancake street where visitors can find the best Vietnamese pancake. Just sit on a plastic chair around plastic table, people can enjoy the amazing street food – Vietnamese pancake and experience the life of locals in Tan Dinh area.
Tan Dinh Market in the past
Built in 1926, Tan Dinh Market was known as “rich market” because of high-quality products , fresh foods and higher prices. There were car parking lots on two sides and carriage parking behind the market (on Ma Lo Street) for rich people to park their cars and carriages. The market was surrounded by the majestic Tan Dinh Church and two cinemas: Kinh Thanh and Mo Dec which made the entire area one of the most luxury in the city. However, it was one of the best places to buy good fabrics and ready-to-wear clothes at cheap prices.
Construction and Architecture
The architecture still remains and remind locals and visitors about the old Saigon – the Pearl of Far East. Similar to many famous French architectural works in Saigon such as Saigon Central Post Office, Binh Tay Market, Tan Dinh Market has been painted in yellow color.
It has four gates on Hai Ba Trung, Nguyen Huu Cau, Ma Lo Streets, and the North gate facing District 1 Hospital. The main gate is on Hai Ba Trung Street, the facade on this street was designed beautifully and delicately in French ancient style. Tan Dinh Market has three bell towers, one in the middle, the others on two sides. The bell in the towers rang every day at a specific time. Flags in different colors are hung on the top of each pillars, two flags of Vietnam – red flag with a gold star are hung in the middle of the center tower. It has its name “Chợ Tân Định” (Tan Dinh Market) and a huge round clock below the center tower on the facade.
Facilities and Services
Tan Dinh Market is one of the safest markets in Ho Chi Minh City thanks to the professional team of security guards who work 24/24. Smoking is not allowed inside the market to ensure fire safety. The motorcycle and bicycle parking is next to the market and managed well.
What is sold at Tan Dinh Market?
Tan Dinh Market has everything a local needs in daily life, from foods to utensils, from flowers to clothes. Coming to Tan Dinh – one of the oldest markets in Saigon is a big chance to not only see the real local life but also buy clothes, accessories and fabrics.
Every morning, housewives go to Tan Dinh Market to choose the freshest foods which are used to cook delicious meals for their families. The market sells meat, seafood, chicken, vegetables, dried foods, noodles, rice, etc.
Flowers and Fruits
Kitchenware and household products
Ready-to-wear clothes and accessories
Visitors can see countless of dresses, house clothes including pyjamas, blouses, trousers, pants, shirts, T-shirts, etc. Clothes for men, women and children are abundant at the market. Besides, it also sells belts, socks, ties, purses, handbags, clutches, backpacks, etc. Most of the products are made in Vietnam, some are from Thailand and China.
Tan Dinh Market specializes in fabrics for making clothes, accessories and curtains. There are arrays of shops that sell material such as silks, cotton, denim, tartans, corduroy… The fabrics are made in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Italy, Korea, Japan and many other countries. Customers can find fabrics to make Ao Dai, suits, shirts, T-shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts, trousers, etc. A large number of stores inside the market and fabric shops on Hai Ba Trung Streets provide Ao Dai fabrics with nice patterns (flowers, dragons and phoenix, landscapes), embroidered items, beads and other decorations. Most of the material has marked prices and the vendor will help you to buy enough fabrics to make your items.
Nguyen Huu Cau Street is also called the jewelry street because it is filled with jewelry stores selling earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings made of gold, platinum and gemstones.
Tips on shopping at Tan Dinh Market for tourists
What to buy?
Certainly, tourists do not buy live animals or household items. The most popular things to buy in this market include clothes, accessories, jewelry pieces and fabrics. I highly recommend to buy Ao Dai fabrics here because of the high quality and good prices.
Should customers bargain?
The answer is yes. Similar to Ben Thanh Market, Tan Binh Market, An Dong Market and other local markets in the city, Tan Dinh Market has vendors who usually ask higher prices than the prices they would like to sell the items. The asking prices are sometimes 2 or 3 times higher than their expecting prices. Bargaining is an accepted and expected method if finding a compromise between the wishful thinking of customers and vendors at Tan Dinh Market.
How to bargain?
In fact, vendors at Tan Dinh speak limited English so that it is difficult to deal the price with them. Foreign visitors should have a local friends or guides to go with them if they would like to shop here. Otherwise, you can use a smartphone and type the price you expect to pay for the item, then show it to the vendor. You can start from a half of the price the vendor offers, then increase your expecting price if the vendor does not accept to sell the item. If you do not win the price negotiation, you can walk away. The vendor may call you back after that and finally agree on your deal.
What to eat at Tan Dinh Market?
Thanks to the history’s length of the market, it has lots of long-standing food stalls selling Vietnamese traditional foods such as Vietnamese sandwich, sweet soups, noodle dishes, traditional cakes, etc. Most of the stalls are arranged in the food area on Nguyen Huu Cau Street. Tan Dinh has become a familiar destination for Saigon foodies during the day and at night. Some food stall opens 24/24 and this is one of the highlights of the market.
Vietnamese sandwich at Banh Mi Yen Ty
Banh Mi Yen Ty shop is located on Nguyen Huu Cau Street, opens from 5:00 to 17:00. sells Vietnamese sandwiches filled with various fillings including pork rolls, beef rolls, skin round ham, pork floss, coriander, cucumbers, white radish and carrot pickles. The shop also sells Pyramid pork rice dumpling (Bánh giò), nuts and other dried foods.
Desserts at Che Di Muoi
Che Di Muoi has been open for over 40 years and one of the oldest food stalls in the market and one of the oldest sweet soup stalls in Saigon. It opens from 7:00 to 12:00 daily, sells different kinds of Vietnamese desserts which cost from VND 10,000 (~$0.5 USD). Besides sweet soups, the stall also sells Pandan leaf plain rice flan with coconut milk sauce and Steamed sticky rice.
Pho Loan serves one of the best Pho in Ho Chi Minh City, opens from 6:00 to 11:00. The price of Pho noodle soup at this stall is cheap, ranges between VND 35,000 and 40,000.
The over 70-year-old Hu Tieu Mi Giang Lam Ky or Mi Chu Cau stall sells delicious clear rice noodle soup (Hủ tiếu) and egg noodle soup with shrimps, kidneys, char siu pork, wonton noodle soup, rice noodle mix, etc. Prices range between VND 35,000 and 60,000. The stall opens from 7:00 to 21:00.
Nearly 10 food stalls in the food area of the market sells noodle soups and dishes from noodles: Crab noodle soup, Fermented fish noodle soup, Grilled pork rice noodle salad, Hue beef noodle soup, Noodle soup with meatball, Soup cake with pork leg, Crab soup, Pork brain soup, Crab cellophane noodle soup and many others.
In addition, some stalls sell traditional cakes such as Bloating-fern-shaped cake (Bánh bèo), Clear shrimp dumplings (Bánh bột lọc), Savory plain rice flan (Bánh đúc)
What is around Tan Dinh Market?
The famous “pink church” – Tan Dinh Church is only a few steps from Tan Dinh Market. Do not miss this attraction and take some nice photos at one of the most beautiful and photographed architectural work in Ho Chi Minh City.
Read more about Tan Dinh Church