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Dong Ba Market, a Truly Authentic Vietnamese Market in Hue City

Looking for souvenirs for your friends and family while in Vietnam? Think of local markets! Dong Ba Market, the soul of Hue City, is considered to be the biggest and most logistically important market in Central Viet Nam which makes it a must-see while you are traveling in Hue.

First look at Dong Ba Market

1. The History of Dong Ba Market

Before the opening of Dong Ba Market, there was a grand market named “Qui Gia Thi” which referred to the return of Nguyen Dynasty to Thuan Hoa – Phu Xuan (Hue nowadays). In the summer of 1885, the capital city was attacked and Qui Gia Thi Market was burned to ashes. It took a while for the market to be rebuilt in 1887 by Emperor Dong Khanh. He also renamed it as Dong Ba Market.

Since then, the market has functioned as the main food supply resourse for the Royal Families, local people, restaurants and so forth… The Dong Ba market, which is located near the Perfume River, has been as its present location since 1899 thanks to the Western-thinker, Emperor Thanh Thai even though it suffered huge damages during the wars, especially during the Battle of Hue in the year of 1967 and 1968. It was then recently undergone a complete renewal in 1987 that made it have the look as it is nowadays.

dong ba market
Local people wore traditional clothes selling goods in Dong Ba Market in the early 20 century.

2. The Name “Dong Ba”

Even though Dong Ba Market has undergone several projects, it still embraces many old features nowadays.

Bell towers in Dong Ba market
One of the colonial-style feature, which is the bell tower at Dong Ba Market is still beautifully existed in the market.

As a whole sale market, the average daily-visited consumers and sellers is between 5,000-7,000 people; The figure can grow dramatically to more than 12,000 people during national holidays, such as Tet Holiday, Full Moon festival,…

“Dong” means Eastern direction from Hue Citadel and The Imperial City; “Ba” means three. In the other words, the market opens daily at 3 a.m and closes around 6-7 p.m. No kidding!

How Can I Get to Dong Ba Market?

For century long, it noticeably stands on the North bank of the charming Huong River, on Tran Hung Dao street in Hue city and stretches from Truong Tien Bridge to Gia Hoi Bridge. We would highly recommend you to walk there since it is only a nice short walk if you stay in the city center; simply walk over Truong Tien Bridge and take a right turn. If you are driving a car or motorbike, there should be a big parking lot in the rear, parking fee is around 5000 VND/ motorbike or 20,000VND/ car.

location of Dong Ba market

 

What Can I Find in Dong Ba Market?

Dong Ba market is the biggest wholesale market in the Central Viet Nam, so you name it what you wish to buy!

1. Craftmen Products

goods in Dong Ba market

The market is like a smaller version of a traditional village in Hue where each craftsman bring their home masterpiece to the market in hope for their products to be bought completely by buyers. Each village in Hue would be famous for one made-with-heart product.

For instant, you may see conical hats everywhere in Vietnam, but the poetic conical hat is specially found in Hue. What makes it so special? Phu Cam village craftsmen initially started this traditional occupation with the usage of thinly soft golden bamboo leaves, abundantly found in their community. Not only stopping to help local farmers protect themselves from the sun, these passionate village entrepreneurs even charm up Vietnamese lady with a with beautiful silhouettes inside the conical hat. Conical hat together with Ao Dai is an iconic look of Vietnamese ladies.

conical hat
If you raise your hat up under the sun, you will see the iconic Truong Tien Bridge and Thien Mu pagoda, an in-love couple and note supposedly described the man’s love for the lady.

Meanwhile, Sinh villagers are proud of their products, worshipping money, papers, clothes. Being the religious center of Vietnam for centuries, Hue is the place where spriritual practice is well-considered by locals. You will surprisingly find not only paper money from US dollars to Euros, but even gold, houses, fancy Mercedes Cars being sold daily. It even reaches its busy time during full moon festivals or Autumn festival.

paper money store
You have to check out a fashion store for the death in Dong Ba market.

Phuoc Tich villagers also make great pottery products which is well-known among Hue locals for almost 500 years while fish sauce, shrimp paste from Phu Hai village is a must in every delicious Bun Bo Hue dish made by Hue ladies. And many more other local commodities are available for locals and tourists as well.

shrimp paste in Dong ba market
A variety of Shrimp Paste from the famous Phu Hai Village
pottery products
Phuoc Tich Pottery

2. Clothing and Fabric

Step upstairs, you will be amazed with colorful and diversified clothes, fabrics shops suitable for any difficult customers. Among them, Ao Dai is the outstanding one. Persistence and some bargaining skills will reward you greatly for your effort if you wish to buy a nice piece of cloths for your dream dress.

Ao dai store in Dong Ba market
Ao dai cloths in Dong Ba Market

3. Tropical Fruit

Along the walking route at the back of the market, you will see all kinds of tropical fruits in Vietnam such as jackfruits, avocados, rambutans, custard fruits, durians, bon bon, dragon fruits, quavas and so on. Do not miss out a chance to try a small portion of our tasty fruits in Vietnam, you can kindly ask the vendors to sell you 10,000 VND of custard apple or rambutans, they will be happy for you to try.

Fruit vendor in Dong Ba

4. Local Food? Absolutely!

Passing through those fruit stores, there are a long chain of food stalls with irresistable smell from royal pancakes, Nem Lui or Bun Bo Hue (beef noodle soup) and so on. Price of food here ranges from 20,000 VND a Banh Khoai ( Royal Pancakes, to 50,000 VND for a plate of 10 Nem luis ( Pork Skewers dipped in peanut and sesame sauce) or 30,000 VND for a bowl of Bun Bo Hue. You should also ask for the price first before sitting down for food.

woman selling Banh KHoai
A Banh Khoai Food stall in Dong Ba Market

Are you tired now after all that shopping? Reward yourself with a glass of Tuan tea for 2.000 VND or a glass of Che (sweet soup) – a common dessert in the summer with only 10,000 VND per glass, I am sure that you would be refreshing again for the rest of your adventure in Dong Ba market.

Che, local Hue dessert
Che display in front of shops

What else?

They are fresh seafood, live duck or chicken, vegetarian food, jewelery, shoes, groceries, cosmetics  or anything you can think of in this oldest market. They are over all of good quality but there are also other ordinary products that they sell at affordable prices for people with smaller budgets.

Vegetable on streets
The lady is selling Betel Nuts and Trau Leave, a traditional symbol of love and happy marriage.

Great tips to visit Dong Ba Market

If you’re not Vietnamese, it is more likely that you will be overcharged. These useful tips below would make your time in Dong Ba market awesome:

Be ready to bargain or simply say no if you feel it is too much.

  • Wear your bag in front of you.
  • Don’t stand in front of a store for a long time
  • Always walk on the right and watch out for traffic coming to you from the front and the back.
  • Use the art of “pin point” to order what you wish,  especially food.

Shoud I go? Definitely a Yes!

Dong Ba market is worth a visit since it is expected to satisfy you with everything: fresh and colorful commodities, amazing food and truly authentic local way of life. A glimpse into Vietnamese culture!

Pros

  • The goods are abundant and have many different quality levels.
  • It is a only short walk since it is located in the city centre.
  • The parking space is quite large.

Cons

  • The narrow alleyways makes moving around a bit inconvenient.
  • Bargaining sometimes become a obstacle preventing you from buying things.

So while in Hue, do as locals do, go to Dong Ba market!

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