Hoi An Central Market is the granddaddy of the town’s markets, in terms of scale and the sheer quantity of local and foreign visitors it receives. It’s an assault on the senses – and often your wallet, too – but it’s never dull! Read on to make the most of your visit to the Central Market in Hoi An.
Tips for Visiting Hoi An Central Market
Before heading to the Central Market in Hoi An, put on a smile and brace yourself. Here is a short guide on how to properly visit the bustling market and have the best experience.
Explore your options
The Central Market will stimulate all your senses but make sure to visit a few vendors, before deciding to buy something. Take your time and wander around the market for a few minutes and then go back to the stalls you liked the most.
Learn how to bargain
At the Central Market in Hoi An, every item is negotiable – from big-ticket items like motorbikes to smaller things such as medication. Every price tag is moveable, so try to keep smiling and enjoy the experience! Plus, if you are in town for a while and the market ladies get to know you a little, then the prices will soon begin to tumble.
What Can You Buy at Hoi An Central Market?
From souvenirs for your loved ones back home and bamboo kitchen utensils for yourself, to fresh fruits and vegetables, kids toys, shoes, clothes, bags, jewelry, luggage, fabric, local dishes and tailors, you can find anything and everything at the Central Market in Hoi An. Take your time to stroll around the stalls for at least half an hour before buying something and do not leave until you have a bite at the food court.
Central Market Food Court
At the Central Market, you’ll find the food court entrance at the intersection of Tran Phu St and Nguyen Hue, open every day from 5am to 6pm. There are about 24 stalls in total and all of them have a wraparound bar and small plastic chairs where diners sit while eating.
The Central Market Food Hall has some of the tastiest and best-value meals you’ll get in all of Hoi An, if not Vietnam. So if you fancy a steaming bowl of Cao Lau and a replenishing mango smoothie for around a dollar each, this is the place to go. With dishes costing anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 VND (0.80 USD to 2 USD), it’s a fantastic place to get an affordable meal and a taste of local flavors.
On top of this, a handful of stalls specialize in making juices, smoothies, and coffee beverages. Prices start as low as 15,000 VND (0.65 USD) so don’t hesitate to quench your thirst here!
With its shared benches, the Food Hall is also a great place to meet other tourists, expats and locals stopping by to fill their bellies.
Best time to visit Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An Central Market is busy from before sun-up till mid-afternoon and the Food Hall from midday to well after sundown. You can really go whenever you like and still be guaranteed to find some form of action. That said, if your goal is to take photos or just mix with locals get down early. From 8.30am onwards the food tour groups arrive so space becomes more limited.
History of Central Market
During the 15th century, Hoi An was a commercial center for the empire of the Cham, a Malayo-Polynesian people who controlled much of the lower and central coastlines of Vietnam. Later on, in the 16th and 17th centuries, it became an international trade port and was considered to be the best place for trading in South-East Asia. Nowadays, the commercial spirit is still intact and the Central Market along with the Cloth Market are considered to be well-preserved examples of those times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hoi An’s Central Market is on Bach Dang street on the corner of the Old Town. It’s hard to say exactly where the sprawl begins and ends but roughly speaking the market starts at the Cam Nam Bridge and stretches along the Thu Bon waterfront until almost the Museum of Folk Culture. Within that area are two main blocks containing the Food Hall and the Cloth Market.
Selling traditional Vietnamese dishes, the Central Market Food Court is one of the cheapest places in town. The food is delicious, the prices are fair and there are plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. However, if you want to buy fresh vegetables and fruit, you may find the prices to be higher than the likes of Tiger Market or Ba Le Market. Regular visits and friendly bartering can make all the difference though!
The Central Market is located very close to Thu Bon River, where you can enjoy a boat ride or simply have a coffee at one of the many cafes by the river. If you are up for more action, head to the Cloth Market, to practice your bargaining skills even more. A host of Old Town restaurants and cafes are within reach of the Central Market and you can get to the famous Japanese Bridge in less than 10 minutes on foot.
Whilst it is cheap by Western standards, it is not the cheapest market in town. The market sellers here know how to barter and they know tourists often have (by Vietnamese standards) huge amounts of cash to throw around. But if you keep your cool and barter well, you can come away with some great deals.