Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City as it is known today is the veritable cliché –A shopper’s paradise. The main feature of shopping here in the capital of Vietnam is that it is tourist oriented, almost everything on offer is meant for consumption by the hordes of visiting tourists. Having at least a basic knowledge of bargaining would serve you well here as there are many eye catching items on display, from the usual touristy fare to elegant antiques and souvenirs.
The shops in Ho Chi Minh City or anywhere else in Vietnam are far from being drab; they are a riot of colour from extensive decorative work to the colorful knick knacks on display, the color is an enticing prospect for tourists. The streets of the city are lined with small outlets selling indigenously produced toys, souvenirs and clothing most of which are very reasonably priced. Shopping in Vietnam is a mix of small vendors peddling locally made handicrafts to large western style department stores selling much more up market fare.
The main open air markets in Ho Chi Minh are Ben Thanh Market, the Night Market and the War surplus market. The biggest of the lot is the Ben Thanh Market, which is instantly recognized by the large clock tower near the traffic circle. It is a large old school open air market with hundreds of narrow alleyways that have store fronts. Due to regular patronage by tourists the market has now morphed into a tourist attraction, many stalls now sell Vietnam t-shits and counterfeit branded jeans, caps and souvenirs.
The Night Market is located almost right next to the Ben Thanh Market is usually open after 5.00 pm. This market also features a few food stalls where tourists can experience some local cuisine and try a local drink. However, the most interesting market of all is definitely the War Surplus Market; this market is sometimes referred to as the American Market or “Cho Cu". Many military items left over from the bloody American campaign against the Viet Cong rebels, that ended with large losses of life on both sides can be seen here. American war gear such as old military uniforms, GI helmets, US Marine t-shirts and old army knives can be bought here. This might be an interesting place to visit for collectors and Vietnam War veterans, though the authenticity of the ware cannot be verified.
For long stay travelers that visit Ho Chi Minh City for business purposes an excellent accommodation option are the Ho Chi Minh serviced apartments that are located in the heart of the city.
Naveen Marasinghe is an Online Marketing Executive at eMarketingEye which is a search engine marketing company that offers integrated Internet marketing services and specializes in serving the online travel and hospitality industry. (http://www.emarketingeye.com/ )