Hanoi’s largest indoor market, Don Xuan Market is jam-packed with stalls selling everything from clothing and cosmetics to household goods, pets, and plants. Although geared more toward local Vietnamese and wholesalers, it’s a great place to get a pulse on local life, and there’s also a lively food court and weekend night market.
Originally founded by the French in 1889, Dong Xuan market was rebuilt after a 1994 fire and now covers 1.6 acres (0.65 hectares). Like many Asian markets, there’s a wet market on the ground floor. Clothing and other goods can be found in the upper floors. There are a few souvenir shops, but you can usually find better options and prices at other markets. Many visitors come here more for the experience than to actually buy anything, though the food court remains popular. There’s a lively weekend night market, with cultural performances such as Xam singing, Cheo theater, and Quan Ho folk duet singing. A number of sightseeing tours will feature a stop here, particularly those that focus on local life in Hanoi, or food-oriented tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The market gets very crowded; those with claustrophobia should avoid.
- Wholesalers will usually refuse to sell small quantities.
- Buyer beware, as not all the branded goods here are authentic.
- Don’t forget to bargain for better prices, though most vendors do not speak English.
- The market is not very wheelchair-friendly, as there are numerous narrow and crowded aisles.
How to Get There
Dong Xuan Market is located at the northern end of the Old Quarter. From Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s about a 10-minute walk. Taxis are an easy way to get there for those coming from further afield.
When to Get There
Although the market is can be visited all day, many vendors may be closed for lunch or a nap in the middle of the day. It’s best to visit in the morning or later in the afternoon. A lively night market is held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
Local Foods to Try
In addition to the food court within the market, there are a number of food stalls just outside, particularly during the weekend night markets. Popular local foods to try include bun cha (marinated grilled pork with noodles), banh cuon (rolled cake), and bin rieu (rice vermicelli soup with meat). For the more adventurous, there’s also fried frog and tiet canh (duck blood soup).