Today we continue our tour of Vietnamese markets with Saigon Square. The mecca of fashion boutiques and designer knock-offs, Saigon Square is a located in District 1 between Ben Thanh market and the Saigon Opera House. It used to be located near the embassy on Le Duan street, and many websites and tourist maps still list its location there, but it’s now open from 9-9 daily on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia.
A well known “Russina market”, Saigon Square is the one-hop stop for Saigonese looking for a shopping fix. The sprawling complex has almost everything the modern Vietnamese or expat needs to live in relative luxury in Vietnam from jewelry and watches to bags and jeans. Several stores near the main entrance even offer “ipods.”
Like most places in Vietnam, Saigon Square is roughly divided into sections each offering a specific type of good. Outside the main entrance are the shoe vendors and other miscellaneous shops. The recently-added South wing is full of bag shops and a few shirt vendors. The main complex, meanwhile, is divided into two floors with a mixture of vendors, though the top floor focuses more on clothing.
Standard Vietnam bargaining rules apply and you can expect to be overcharged here, though perhaps not as badly as in Ben Thanh market. The vendors seem much more reasonable however–perhaps a function of the slightly less touristy nature of the market–and great bargains can still be had.
Whether you’re in a shopping mood or not, however, Saigon Square is worth a visit just for the experience. Crowded and bustling, Saigon Square has the claustrophobic yet energetic feel of Ben Thanh market and a hundred other Vietnamese markets. But the sleek, bright complex with giant Japanese air conditioning machines blasting from every gives it the feel of budding modern shopping mall. An amalgam of old and new, Saigon Square is in many ways a bridge between traditional and modern Vietnam.
So next time you’re in Saigon, take a cab to Saigon Square, grab some sugarcane drinks at the food shop next door, and get a taste of a market unlike any other in Vietnam!