Vietnamese food is diverse. It’s sweet, savory, sour and spicy, but there’s one thing every dish has in common – the freshness of the ingredients that go into it.
Hoi An is a fantastic example of this. On one side of the town is an abundance of rice paddies. On the other side is the sea, with a wealth of fish and seafood. The rice and fish, along with fresh vegetables and free-range chickens, are delivered to Hoi An’s markets every day, waiting to be hand picked by everyone, from high end restaurateurs and street food vendors, to local men and women choosing ingredients for their daily meals.
If you’d like to take a trip to the Hoi An market, bear in mind that it’s advised to get there before 7am. As the day moves on, the temperature will rise and the strong smell of the market will only get more pungent. More tourists will start to gather in the market, more loud voices will begin to permeate the area, and the market stall owners may start to disappear as they sell out of produce.
The market is just a stone’s throw from Viet Deli, so make sure you come back to the area for lunch or dinner.
Visiting the market in the morning
Visiting the Hoi An market in the morning provides a genuine insight into everyday life. If you get to the riverside before 7am you’ll be able to watch as the market unfolds. Enormous piles of colorful vegetables are found at every corner and the herbs and spices stalls make for excellent photo opportunities. Best of all is the fish and seafood area: customers and fishmongers, predominantly women, haggle animatedly for the freshest fish, shellfish, and molluscs aboard their modest stands.
Time to suit up? Be ready to barter
Away from the fresh fish, you’ll be hit with a mix of different, more alluring smells. Fragrant herbs and spices drift through the air, and an explosion of colors adorn the stalls, with a range of Vietnamese silk available. Prices towards the entrance tend to be inflated for tourists, so you’ll need to take a deep breath and head into the belly of the beast if you want a bargain.
Hoi An is renowned for its cheap tailoring and this is fuelled by the fabric market. The tailors are located in a section all their own, with a selection of fine silk tailors cheaper here than anywhere else in the city. For every purchase you make, however, be sure to haggle for the best deal and don’t be afraid to walk away.