We’re settling into our rental house in Hoi An and loving it, but what’s the point of having a kitchen if you have nothing to cook? Time to brave Hoi An Market, the central market, there are others not far away by bike, but Central Market is in the Old Town on the water’s edge and a fascinating place to visit even if you’re not shopping for food. Our local mini marts sell almost nothing other than soy sauce and beer, great, but we need some fruit, vegetables, cooking oil, rice and so on. Time to polish up our bargaining skills and head out shopping.
- Shopping in Hoi An Market
- First, Breakfast at the Street Food Stalls Within the Central Market
- Vietnamese Street Food and Hoi An Specialities
- The Fish Market
- The Meat Market
- Fruit and Vegetable Market
- Spices, Oil, Flowers, Incense and More
- Buying Coffee in Hoi An
- Where are We Staying in Hoi An ?
- Hoi An Market Opening Times
- Book a Hoi An Cookery Course, Food and Markets Tour Here
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Shopping in Hoi An Market
First, Breakfast at the Street Food Stalls Within the Central Market
The Central Market food court, if you can call it that, is one of our favourite spots for breakfast. A multitude of small stalls, each serving almost the same thing at better prices than the local restaurants. The food is good in the market but I’ve had better at stand alone street stalls elsewhere in town, this market food court is a sort of half way house between for locals and for tourists. You won’t find banana pancakes and omelettes here, you’ll find good Vietnamese food and it’s delicious at any time of day, the perfect way to get warmed up for some food shopping. We now have a full post on food in Hoi An.
Vietnamese Street Food and Hoi An Specialities
A full post on Hoi An’s food specialities and Vietnamese street food in general is begging to be written, but dishes to enjoy include:
- White rose, delicate rice dumplings with a single piece of prawn, steamed.
- Cau Lau, noodles with greens and pork, no soup ( Cau Lao has fascinating origins)
- Bun Bo, soup noodles with beef.
- Spring rolls, fried and fresh, vegetarian and vegan friendly.
- Vietnamese pancakes, banh xeo, with pork and shrimp, add herbs and greens, wrap in rice paper and dip.
- Mi Quang, noodles with such things as quail eggs, shrimps and pork cooked in a delicious stock or soup. ( read about Mi Quang here)
There are too many dishes to list! Banh Mi is a more western friendly option, filled baguettes, even a simple cheese spread sandwich is taken to a new level in Vietnam. Try Madam Quang’s Ban Mi shop, east of the Hoi An market, it was made famous by TV chef Anthony Bourdain, be prepared to queue.
The Fish Market
If you can get down to the river early enough you might get the chance to see the fish being delivered by boat. The market officially opens at 6.30 am and I’ve managed to get here at 5.30 am, but no fish delivery to be seen as yet, I’ll keep trying. Much of the fish on sale, from superb prawns to tuna and small sharks, is ultra fresh and often still alive. Women work, cleaning, chopping and preparing the fish and crustaceans for sale
The Meat Market
It gets a little grisly in the meat section, but it’s much cleaner and smells better than most Asian or Central America meat markets we’ve visited. I doubt we’ll be buying meat in Hoi An, it’s easier and cheaper for my carnivores to just eat out 3 times a day, but this is where we’d have to come if they want me to cook poultry, pork or beef.
Fruit and Vegetable Market
If you’re packing a nutribullet this is where you need to head to get the makings of an amazing smoothie! We filled our bike baskets with rambutans, passion fruit, mangoes, bananas and avocado for just a few dollars. I strongly suspect that we paid at least double the local price but we’re all under the weather with a respiratory virus and we just couldn’t face haggling over a dollar or two this morning. Next time we’ll know better.
Spices, Oil, Flowers, Incense and More
The market is a treasure-house and you could probably buy everything you need to self cater in Hoi An. We’ve bought a few basics, but it’s hard to know when to haggle ( probably, all the time) when you’re buying basics like cooking oil. We’re a bit worn down and tired at the moment, but we’ll figure out how to shop soon and for now, there’s food available on the street every few paces, it’s cheap and it’s good, we’ll eat out. We have coffee, smoothies and eggs and that’s plenty for now.
Buying Coffee in Hoi An
We cheated on the coffee, we headed to a western style coffee shop we use often ( Mia Coffee, they also do great carrot cake) to buy a bag of their arabica beans which they ground for us on the spot. That and a little cup sized coffee filter is keeping us well caffeinated when we don’t want to go out in the heat. You can buy a 1 cup filter in the market for a dollar or two, we stupidly left our travel coffee makers at home. The coffee they sell at the central market tends towards being chocolaty or caramel flavoured, we don’t like it and a lot of it is processed using civets or squirrels, it’s probably not nice to furry creatures and my inner vegan tends to avoid that sort of thing.
Where are We Staying in Hoi An ?
After a few nights in a hotel after arrival from Saigon, we quickly and easily found the most beautiful house to rent in a quiet residential street. We have wi-fi, air-con, purified drinking water and all mod cons, we couldn’t be happier with it. More on living in Hoi An to come soon. Have you signed up to follow?
Hoi An Market Opening Times
The official opening times for Hoi An Market are 8am to 7pm but we know that much of the market is open well beyond these times. Maybe those times refer to the actual market buildings, I’ll check!
Book a Hoi An Cookery Course, Food and Markets Tour Here
You can easily pre-arrange a huge selection of food tours and cookery classes in and around Hoi An and most will include a market tour. Choose from full day, morning, evening or half day tours and classes. Check some of the options below. Arranging them locally can be time-consuming and there are touts to avoid.
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So shopping in Hoi An is a little tricky, even for us as long-term Asia lovers and expert hagglers, but we’re good, we’re getting there. Hoi An market is absolutely a place you should visit if you’re in town, try to get there early or late at night, the days are long and hot and the market is best in dawn light or lit up, as all of Hoi An is, in the evenings. Want more on travel in Vietnam? Our full Vietnam Travel Blog and Guide is here for you.