Cho Ben Thanh

The trouble with having people over is not playing host — but spending together with them when they do some shopping.  It’s difficult to resist shopping yourself because you get to bargain along with them.  And the stuff you’ve been wanting to buy for a long time becomes more affordable because you are now able to “buy in bulk” together with your guests.

I am not fond of going to Ben Thanh market at all because the aisles are narrow and it becomes really smelly towards the afternoon when the sun is high, the place is packed and the smells of the wet and dry market starts to permeate the air.

But somehow all that is forgotten when you’re in the thick of things haggling, trying to save every dong or dollar.  Because truly, the first price the seller will tell you is over-priced.

When my mom and aunt visited last week, we bought a couple of beautifully embroidered slippers in Ben Thanh and was charged 400,000 VND EACH!!!  That was plain robbery.  That’s mall price already!  When we tried to get away, the saleslady asked me how much I want to pay for the slippers.  I said 120,000 VND each.  In the end, I paid 300,000 VND FOR 2 PAIRS.  I still think it was overpriced though.

When my friends visited, they wanted to buy scarfs and these were being sold at 170,000 VND each!

Luckily, I have had experience buying scarfs (last year) and I knew these can be sold up to 60,000 VND.  That’s a huge amount of difference.  We settled for 70,000 VND each taking in consideration FOREX changes for the past months.

Souvenir shirts are being sold too at such a hefty price of 100,000 VND up.  When we first got here two years ago, I remember buying souvenir shirts at 25,000 VND each.  Today, it costs 4x that.  We were able to bring down the price to 43,000 – 45,000 VND each.

Now bags are something else.  If you believe what the sellers are saying versus original and class A stuff, it’s a whole different ball game.  Although I want to believe that the bag I’m buying is original according to the seller, I just check the quality of the workmanship of the bags.  As long as it looks sturdy and can last long, then I say, go for it. My friends were able to buy 3 luggage bags, 2 sling bags, and 3 backpacks.

The lacquer ware were something I’ve been wanting to buy for the longest time.  I’ve been doing so little by little but only when I have friends over who are also buying with me.

We got pretty good deals buying stuff here.  But maybe we only were able to do so because my officemate bough a whole lot. 😀  Even these lighters that cost 180,000 VND each were sold to us for 2 for 180,000 VND. 😉  But don’t you think that the price is still too much?

These shot glasses were being sold at 150,000 VND each.  No thanks.

If you are looking to buy coffee beans, Ben Thanh market is the best place to buy BUT if you want those instant coffee types like the popular G7, Trung Nguyen, and Vinacafe, you should buy at the grocery where it’s more cheaper.  I think even the dried langka / jackfruit chips seem cheaper in the grocery.

My friends bought bags of cashew nuts and dried food.  I bought lots of plums. Best of all, you can taste ’em first before buying. 😉

 So there, happy shopping!

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