Ben Thanh Street Food Market: A Trendy Food Hall in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Ben Thanh Street Food Market: A Trendy Food Hall in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

It’s funny, Ren and I love street food when traveling. We don’t shy away from it. But when we’re home in Manila, we never touch the stuff. We do eat street food fare all the time like taho (tofu snack), turon (banana spring roll), and balut (duck embryo), we just never eat them on the street. 😆

I guess it’s because we grew up in Manila so we’ve heard all the stories. As a kid, I remember my sister telling me how her friend’s cousin’s brother’s classmate’s sister (or something like that) bit into a fish ball and wound up gagging on the vendor’s toenail clipping. I don’t know how much truth there is to that urban legend, but I believed it and have largely stayed away from street food ever since. In my mind, it’s dirty.

I didn’t have those fears or biases on our recent trip to Vietnam. We enjoyed all the eateries on our itinerary, many of which were street food vendors, and not once were we concerned about finding toenails in our food. Like the Manila version of me, I understand not all travelers have that same carefree attitude when it comes to street food. If you’re curious about Vietnamese street food but are worried about hygiene, then Ben Thanh Street Food Market in Saigon was made for you.

Ben Thanh Street Food Market is a trendy food hall just a stone’s throw away from Ben Thanh Market. See where those motorcycles are headed? At the end of the block is Ben Thanh Market.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Stylish food halls like this one have been all the rage in Manila the last few years. It’s a fun concept. Take a bunch of eateries and put them all in one place to give diners more options.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Not sure what this makeshift stage was for. Live bands maybe?
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

I didn’t count but I’m guessing there are 20-25 vendors here selling all kinds of Vietnamese food. There’s a stall selling many types of beer as well.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

There are bench-style tables at the front and back of the market. If I remember correctly, they have evaporative air coolers at the back so it feels cooler to sit there.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

See the speaker? They were playing top 40 music at the market so we were bobbing to Ben Sheeran over beers and bowls of bún thịt nướng.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Funky mural. I forgot to take pictures but the bathrooms were stylish too. They used painted barrels as sinks and had graffiti-type art all over the walls. Like many establishments these days, Ben Thanh Street Food Market was made for Instagram.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

I read that Ben Thanh Street Food Market was created specifically for tourists. Many tourists are afraid of eating street food so they opened this place to make it more hygienic and appealing to foreigners. When we were there, nearly all the customers were non-Vietnamese.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

See those open panels in the ceiling? Those parts were retractable, like a car’s sun roof, to let in more light and air on sunny days.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

There’s the lady vendor preparing our bowl of bún thịt nướng. Bún thịt nướng is a cold rice-vermicelli noodle dish topped with grilled pork, fresh herbs, and vegetables, then drizzled with fish sauce.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

I’m not an expert on Vietnamese food so I don’t know how authentic this is, but it was delicious. We paid VND 60,000 for this bowl which does seem pricier than its counterparts on the street. This street food market caters to tourists and there’s more overhead so the elevated prices were expected.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

A plate of Thịt bò nướng lá lốt which is grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Rolled in bite-sized pieces, these are great to munch on with beer. We paid VND 50,000 for this plate of 5 or 6 pieces.
Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

You’ll notice we didn’t order too many dishes here. We enjoyed the place but we had an itinerary of well-known street food eateries to get to so we couldn’t afford to overeat. As described above, I’m not sure how authentic the offerings are at a place like this. Like heritage hawker stalls in Singapore or Penang, nothing beats street food vendors that have been around for decades. I’ll be writing a Vietnamese food guide so we needed to find the best and most authentic places. Ben Thanh Street Food Market is nice, but it caters to tourists.

With that said, unless you’re Vietnamese and eat these dishes everyday, then you probably won’t know the difference between authentic and touristy examples of Vietnamese food. Or you won’t mind it as much. Compared to typical street food eateries, Ben Thanh Street Food Market is pleasant and comfortable. You can easily spend a few hours there just drinking beers and whiling away the time. You wouldn’t think of doing that sitting on those tiny plastic stools by the sidewalk. 😆

Ben Thanh Street Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

26-28-30 Thủ Khoa Huân, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Tel: +84 90 688 17 07
Facebook: BenThanhstreetfoodmarket
Email: benthanhstreedfoodmarket@gmail.com
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun, 6AM-12MN

HOW TO GET THERE:
Ben Thanh Street Food Market is right next to Ben Thanh Market. CLICK HERE to see exactly where it is on a map.

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Nitin Khanna at 7:46 pm

    After seeing all the pictures of Food Street, Vietnam. I would like to make plan of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I don’t shy while eating delicious food in restaurant or its available in street food market. Love to enjoy in little things.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brady and Shelly at 11:53 am

    There is a similar place in Hanoi called Quan An Ngon. It’s got a bunch of stalls, and a menu, you order your food and it’s delivered to you. A great way to try the local street food before buying it on the roadside stall and learn the names of the dishes. I didn’t know this place existed and the next time I am in Saigon, i’m there! Thanks!

  3. JB Macatulad at 3:37 pm

    Oh cool! We spent a few days in Hanoi as well but didn’t know about that place. Something for our next visit. Thanks for stopping by Brady and Shelly! 🙂

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