Food, colours, smells, souvenirs, smiles, yelling and laughter. The essence of any country lies in its markets, and Vietnam’s are like no other. They form the heart of each community, and you can see the locals at their most authentic pace.
Resting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, bustling Hoi An Central Market is certainly worth a look for its authentic slice of Vietnamese life. There is a vast array of foodstuff for sale including spices such as saffron and cinnamon which are superb purchases as are the exotic fresh fruit and vegetables on display. Due to its riverside location there is also a huge selection of fresh fish available.
The market is busy throughout the day with locals bargaining hard alongside tourists so its best to arrive first thing in the morning. The negotiating over fish usually starts around 07:00 as the fishermen drop their catch off and the market vendors and local buyers dive in to get the best fish. Be warned that it can get very messy, nevertheless it’s certainly a sight not to be missed.
Inside the market there are also plenty of live ducks and chickens tied together and ready for sale alongside row upon row of Vietnamese cooking ingredients. The smell can get quite strong as the day heats up and the market will also become a lot busier and louder as the day progresses. If you want to avoid this, then head to the east side and the large shed type building which houses the tailors and all manner of Asian silk and textiles.
As a tourist browsing round Hoi An Central Market you can expect plenty of stall holders pushing their wares on you quite hard, the best course of action is to simply smile and continue on your way. When you do decide to make a purchase then remember that the first price you will be told will be over inflated, you should then offer around half and then work up to a price that you are both happy with. Be prepared to walk away and you might be surprised by the fair price you are then offered.