Hue Food Market is also known as Dong Ba Market and it is the oldest market of its kind in the city. You will find Hue Food Market over on Tran Hung Dao Street and there are hundreds of stalls inside that sell everything from handicrafts and household items to food and clothing.
All those vendors are inside a large gray building, which happens to be located on the northern banks of the Perfume River. There is approximately sixteen thousand square meters of space inside, so there is plenty of room despite the crowds.
This market was constructed back in 1887, after Qui Gai Thi Market was burned to the ground. While the original market was popular for many years, that popularity soared with this new market and it is the largest commercial center of the entire ThuaThien Hue Province.
The atmosphere that surrounds this Hue Food Market is enough of a reason for you to go, but while you are there, you should pay close attention to the surroundings. One of the first things you will see is the old bell tower, which stands in the middle of all the buildings. The original building is still standing, but nine new ones have been added over the years to make room for all the newer vendors.
The Hue Food Market is divided into sections to make it easier to find what you are looking for, but don’t expect it to be perfect. You still may need to walk around a little before you find what you are looking for. The entire upstairs is where you will find most of the clothing, but some could be tucked away downstairs as well.
You must purchase all your souvenirs at the Hue Food Market, because they have all the traditional items readily available. One of the most popular souvenirs is the non la bai tho, or a conical hat that has poems woven into the design. These are made from latanier leaves in Phu Cam Village. Other souvenir items that you may want to consider include me xung, which are candies, Tuan tea, and Truoi berries.
The food is the biggest draw at the Hue Food Market, and you can find some of the most delicious traditional cuisine there. A few dishes that you must try includes beef vermicelli, mussel rice, Hue sour shrimp, and leaves cake. The prices for these dishes are quite low, so feel free to indulge a little and order more than you normally would. It is best to lock in the price before you order though, so you do not find that the price is more than you are willing to pay.
When you arrive at this market, you must take the time to watch the locals do a little bargaining. This will give you an idea of what is expected of you when it comes to purchasing anything that you find. It is recommended that you begin by offering half of the listed price and you can save even more if you purchase things in bulk. It may take you some time to get really good at bargaining, but once you do, you will find that you can walk away with some amazing deals!
It is common for tourists to be charged more, so be willing to walk away if the vendor wants you to pay more than you are willing to. Many times, the vendor will call out to you to come back and give you the price that you want (as long as it is reasonable).
It is easy to reach this market via bus, but you can also make the journey via a motorcycle, as well as a cyclo. The Hue Food Market is open every day of the week from three o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock in the evening.
If you want to watch the locals purchase food items for their restaurants, you must arrive no later than three o’clock in the morning. There will be an eerie silence, as people bargain quietly and walk away with what they need for the day.
Of course, if you do not want to get up that early, you can arrive later. However, be aware that between five thousand and seven thousand people shop at the Hue Food Market every single day and that number can double during the holidays. Therefore, you may want to plan your time around mealtimes and the times when people are shopping for their dinnertime ingredients.
The Hue Food Market is a must-see attraction when you are in this part of Vietnam, so make sure you add it to your itinerary. We recommend planning on being there for a few hours, so you can thoroughly look around. If you need less time, that’s fine, but from experience, we know that it always takes longer than a person thinks.