Bến Thành Market (Vietnamese: Chợ Bến Thành) is located in the center of Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam in District 1. The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and an important symbol of the city. Ben Thanh Market is a famous destination for many local and foreign tourists from all around the world. The market operates all year round and opens at around 6am} every day until the official closing time at 6pm. After 6pm, the day market transitions into a night market which runs until 10pm.
Today, Ben Thanh Market welcomes more than 10,000 visitors per day to shop and visit. The market has nearly 1,500 booths with more than 6,000 small businesses selling wholesale and retail items from consumables to luxury goods. Currency exchanges are not required by some vendors but most prefer Vietnam's currency, Vietnamese dong.
The market developed from informal markets created by early 17th-century street vendors gathering together near the Saigon River. The market was formally established by the French colonial powers after taking over the Gia Định citadel in 1859 (see Citadel of Saigon). This market was destroyed by fire in 1870 and rebuilt to become Saigon's largest market. In 1912 the market was moved to a new building and called the New Bến Thành Market to distinguish over its predecessor. The building was renovated in 1985.
The original market started out in the early 17th century as an informal wet market founded by local street vendors. When the neighboring Gia Dinh citadel was overthrown by French imperialists in 1859, the market was properly constructed and declared a formal establishment along French Colonial lines. The original structure included a wooden thatched roof which would later be destroyed by fire in 1870 was rebuilt to become called "Les Halles Centrales".
In 1912, the market was moved into the building people are familiar with today, using fireproof metal structure to become the largest and most central of the markets in the city. When all the vendors moved into the new market building the old building was not demolished but instead transitioned to a wholesale market known as the Old Market or Chợ Cu. As for the new market, the name changed to Ben Thanh Market to be distinguished from its predecessor. The name Ben Thanh derives from the words "harbor" (Ben) and "citadel" (Thanh).
In 1985 the new market went under major renovations to keep up with the city's progress of a modern blend. Despite many restorations over time, the market remains one of the earliest and most iconic surviving structures of Saigon.
Wooden vaulted ceiling Ben Thanh market has a total area of 13,056 m². The 100-year-old building has a unique Indochina design that stands out among the modern and contemporary buildings around Saigon center. Throughout the years, the market underwent major renovations to both the exterior and interior but the overall architecture remained with its iconic clock tower in the foreground.
Since the building was constructed around the time of the French Colonial Era, the building holds strong French influence. Khuong Van Muoi, President of the city Architects’ Association, said the build adopted some of its unique features from French architects. He mentions the orientation of the building and banners along the roof that extends over the market to provide shade. These designs were integrated specifically for natural air-conditioning.