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We spent almost 6 months living in Hoi An Vietnam, so we needed to shop at her markets regularly. We started with the Hoi An Central Market near the river in the UNESCO listed Old Town. As we found our feet we started to use Tiger Market and more. The Hoi An Night Market is just for the tourists. More on where to shop in Hoi An, how, and for what in our guide to the markets of Hoi An.
Markets in Hoi An
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 Markets.
Morning Markets and Night Markets
The food and produce markets we mention below are all open early in the morning. The night market starts around sunset with stalls setting up from roughly 4 pm. The morning markets mostly don’t close as the day wears on but certainly, some stalls do and fresh supplies sell out. There are multiple morning markets but the Central Market, below, is the one most tourists will see unless they book a food tour with market visit in a more “local” market,
Hoi An Central Market, Cho Hoi An
Hoi An’s Central Market was the first one we tried, 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. That’s great, but we need some fruit, vegetables, cooking oil, rice and so on. Time to polish up our bargaining skills and head out shopping.
If you’d like to see this same market in times of flood, you need this post
Shopping in Hoi An Central Market
First, Breakfast at the Street Food Stalls Within the Central Market
The Central Market food court, if you can call it that, is a decent spot 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.
Vietnamese Street Food and Hoi An Specialities
A full post on Hoi An’s food specialities and Vietnamese street food in general is here, 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.
Hoi An Fish Market
If you can get down to the river early enough you might get the chance to see the fish deliveries. The market officially opens at 6.30 am and I’ve managed to get here at 5.30 am, but I haven’t seen a fishing boat delivery 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.
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, the local beans are slightly sweet. We don’t like it and a lot of it is processed using civets (squirrel coffee is just a brand ). It’s probably not nice to furry creatures. My inner vegan tends to avoid that sort of thing.
Hoi An Central 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.
Hoi An Night Market
The Hoi An Night Market is on the far side of the river, we call this the party side and you’ll soon see why. Music bars and clubs pump music, seemingly competing to drown each other out. This disturbance is confined to a small area near the night market, the rest of the old town remains relatively peaceful.
Mostly the night market sells imported Chinese junk and souvenirs but there are plenty of food stalls too. It’s open from around sunset every day.
On our most recent visit to Hoi An (2019) the Night Market had spread to the near side of the river, next to the Central Market. Stalls on wheels appear from around 4 pm meaning this street has lost much of its charm along with its lovely sunset views of the river. Hoi An is developing fast. We’ll be back in 2020 to share more.
Tiger Market, Cho Tan An
Tiger market is “our” market and we do most of our shopping here, it’s easy to buy fruit, vegetables, fresh rice noodles, tofu, meat and some homewares. It’s a small market and the prices aren’t much different to the Central Market but after a while the ladies charge you less or throw in more free gifts.
Right opposite Tiger Market there is a small supermarket that stocks a good selection of western foods, including vegan supplies.
Ba Le Market, Cho Ba Le
This local morning market serves the large expat and traveller community over in an Cam Chau and Cua Dai Rd. This market is bigger than Tiger but otherwise same same. It’s near Dingo Deli.
Where to Buy Bread, Banh Mi in Hoi An
You can buy a plain banh mi from any of the banh mi stalls if you ask.. To get them fresh from a bakery you can go to Ba Le Markat ( Cho Ba Le ). There is a bakery on the main street right opposite the fruit and veg market. It only sells bread in the mornings until it runs out.
Supermarkets and Mini Marts in Hoi An
The nearest supermarket is in Danang in one of the big malls there. In Hoi An you will find mini-marts like ours, above. In all honesty, they sell very little, only dried, processed goods and drinks. You need to get your noodles, fresh from the markets.
Are the Markets Open Over Tet ( New Year)
No, almost everything shuts in Hoi An over Tet, but it’s only a few days. Some food outlets will still be open but expect higher prices. Most shops and mini markets close for Tet. We found that the expat mini market opposite Jim’s Snack Bar was open most during the Tet period.
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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. Our house is in a quiet residential street but modern and comfortable. We have wi-fi, air-con, purified drinking water and all mod cons. We couldn’t be happier with it.
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 here. Arranging them locally can be time-consuming and there are touts to avoid.
So shopping in Hoi An is a little tricky, even for us as long-term Asia lovers and expert hagglers. We’re good, we’re getting there. Hoi An Central Market, or any of the other markets are absolutely places 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 in the evenings. Want more on travel in Vietnam? Our full Vietnam Travel Blog and Guide is here for you, or you can visit things to do in Hoi An with kids.