Hoi An Markets - Playing the Market Game
At the heart of many a town’s culture is its central market, and Hoi An is no exception. To some, a morning spent traipsing around stacks of material and pungent foodstuffs is an ideal excursion; to others, markets are their idea of hell. But if you’re interested in a slice of real ‘Hoi An’ life, and of joining the locals in their search for the freshest produce, you’ve got to play the market game.
Although a market visit isn’t exactly a relaxing experience, it can certainly be a thrilling and engaging one. And with our guide to talking the talk, making the right connections and snapping up bargains (or at least avoiding getting ripped off), you’re guaranteed a better hand.
Hoi An is famous for its various markets where you can find almost everything under the sun. You can start the day off on a food adventure and grab some breakfast at Hoi An’s Central Market in the Old Town; then kick back with locals and enjoy a bahn mi sandwich for lunch at the more relaxed Ba Le Market. End the day with tasty street food such as banh xeo and a spot of shopping at the action-packed Hoi An Night Market.
Hoi An Central Market
For one of Vietnam’s best shopping experiences, head south east to Hoi An’s Central Market. You’ll find a myriad of stalls where you can rummage through spices, silks, fruit, vegetables, trinkets, clothes, accessories… the list is endless. Being so close to the riverside, there is a vast selection of fresh fish on display, as well as some of the most authentic Vietnamese cuisine and local dishes. Travelers looking for local handicrafts and souvenirs can browse through an eclectic array of stalls. Prices are often steeper near the entrance so do a bit of exploring – and bargaining – before you settle on a particular vendor to hand over your cash to.
Tiger Market is where locals go to do their weekly shopping, as it’s a great place to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, tofu, meat and other homewares. You can also find stacks of second-hand clothes, which makes it a fun place to explore for vintage clothe-hunting. A five-minute cycle north of the Old Town, it’s quieter, smaller and less ‘in your face’ than some of the bigger marketplaces in Hoi An. Things get kicking around 8am, which is fairly late by Vietnamese standards.
Noi Rang Market
Just the other side of the new and impressive Cua Dai Bridge, Noi Rang Market is just far enough away – 15 minutes by scooter and 45 mins by bicycle – to be out of both the tourist and expat circuits. And it’s well worth visiting for that very reason. It’s a small covered country market with super-friendly stall holders and no other tourists in sight. Sweet. As with most markets, best to get there fairly early for the best produce.
Ba Le Market
Tucked away just off Cua Dai Ba Le Market is the market of choice for those staying in Cam Chau or Cam Thanh. About 15 minutes cycle from the old town it’s smaller and less daunting than the Central Market but it has everything covered with butchers, fishmongers, fruit and vegetables, toys, clothes and household goods. A favorite of expats because it’s more relaxed than the frenzied Central and Tiger Markets.
Hoi An Fish Market is where most of those delicious fishy things that end up on your dinner plate are bought and sold. It’s about 3km west of the Old Town, on the banks of the Thu Bon river, at the beginning of a friendly village called Thanh Ha (known locally as the “Pottery Village”). As most fishing is done overnight the market is in full swing at 5am and starts to quieten and run out of some items by 7am. It’s worth setting your alarm for the vibrant spectacle the Fish Market offers alone. There’s also a small covered market adjacent with general produce.
Hoi An Night Market
For those wishing to take home a piece of Hoi An’s lanterned charm, the Hoi An Night Market on An Hoi Islet (across the river from Hoi An Old Town) provides a large array of inexpensive souvenirs and snacks from which to choose. Though largely similar to countless souvenir markets found across Vietnam, Hoi An’s signature lanterns light up the booths lining the entrance to the market, providing a beautiful warm glow. Some vibrant night spots like Belleville Restaurant & Lounge and Mango Mango are conveniently nearby for dinner, cocktails and live music.