When I first heard about this market, I was excited to visit – Vườn chuối means ‘banana garden’, and I thought that I’d be entering into a world combining The Secret Garden with banana plantations (minus the labour exploitation).
I was quickly put right however, as friends told me that it’s not a garden or particularly related to bananas. It is, however, a market. Disappointed, I went online to see what other people thought about the market, and was met with a tidal wave of positivity – some people even declared it to be Saigon’s best market. My enthusiasm was renewed, so I set off for a snoop around.
If it isn’t Saigon’s best market, it certainly comes pretty close. Housed in a nice building, the market combines all the best bits about other markets – some busy areas, some quiet areas, some pedestrianized areas, some areas with motorbikes whizzing through, some dark areas, some light areas… the list goes on. The stalls, range from nearly looking like real shops, to nearly looking like wandering street sellers. All this diversity and variety – amazing given the market’s relatively small size - makes visiting the market a really fun experience, made even more so by the jovial and helpful people who work in the market.
The stuff for sale is just as varied – ranging from clocks and gold to raw meat and vegetables, via cloth, bakeries, tinned food, health and beauty, etc. etc. One of places to go when you want to by something, but you’re not quite sure what.