Binh Tay Market, in China Town, Ho Chi Minh City was built by a Chinese businessman, Mr. Quach Dam, in 1928. The market was designed by a French architect, yet bearing Oriental architectural style. In this article, VN Bike Tour would like to give you more information about Binh Tay Market and things you might not know.
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Quach Dam (1863 - 1927), who laid the foundations of Binh Tay Market, is still a strange name for many young people in Saigon. Due to late birth, this Chinese billionaire had not been listed in one of the Rich Four of Saigon in the early 20th century, including the District official Sy, the Governor Phuong, the Landlord Xuong, and Hui Bon Hoa. His journey from the homeless to the owner of the biggest market in Saigon is also a story with full of interesting things. Rumor has it that Quach Dam is orphaned and homeless. During childhood, he has a life of extreme poverty to live wandering the streets. As he grows up, He has tried his hands in various jobs to survive, and usually sleeps on the porch of the houses. Although the life is precarious, he still keeps his dream of being wealthy. After several years, Quach Dam has gained some decent capital. He started his business and became rich.
In the late 18th century, Cho Lon Market was growing more and more, many people from other places came here to do business. Therefore, the market became cramped and could not develop anymore. The government of Cho Lon at that time also planned to build a new one but could not find the land. Quach Dam spent money buying a large marshy land of 25,000 m2, then flattened and built a new market on its ground as a gift for the Government. He only asked to build several blocks of floor around the market and erected the statue in the middle of the market after his death. Unfortunately, Binh Tay Market was not open until 1930 because of the Quach Dam’s death in 1927.
Binh Tay Market is also known as Cho Lon (in Vietnamese,”cho lon” means “big market”). The market was designed with Chinese architecture in the shape of bagua (a Chinese religious motif incorporating the eight trigrams of the I Ching, typically arranged octagonally around a symbol denoting the balance of yin and yang, or around a mirror). The market has 12 different gates in four directions, with the main gate facing to Cho Lon bus station. It is the gateway to the Southwestern provinces, which is convenient for transportation of goods. Inside is a spacious campus for guests to rest overlooking the four dragons spraying water into the lake and 4 unicorns keeping the door.
Sophisticated patterns of Binh Tay Market have been still existed for nearly 100 years. The tower has the four clock faces with 2 dragons flanking the moon. The market main roofs are covered by yin-yang tiles with overlapping style to create ventilation. The roofs at the corners of the market are decorated with winding dragons and phoenix in accordance with the typical architecture of Oriental pagodas. Total area of Binh Tay Market is about 28,000 m2 with its inside area of about 8,500 m2 consisting of one ground floor and one floor is divided many small stores for traders. Presently, it has more than 2,300 stalls with more than 30 categories. Small traders in the market are mainly Chinese Vietnamese; they have been attached to Binh Tay Market for many generations.
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Binh Tay Market operates from 3am to 10pm and is full of bustle and hustle of transferring, buying and selling. Along the market, there are food stalls selling a variety of South Vietnamese dishes at very reasonable prices to serve the visitors and small traders. The food here is varied and plentiful. At night, the market is also vibrant and romantic under the red lanterns swinging in front of the wind. It is not only an important trading place but also one of the destinations of domestic and international tourists.
In 2015, Binh Tay Market was officially recognized by the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City as architectural relic. Although supermarkets and shopping centers are densely growing up, Binh Tay Market still retains the position of the largest wholesale market in Ho Chi Minh City. Nearly 100 years passed, Binh Tay market is still with time and always the pride of the Chinese community in Saigon.
On Saigon Motorbike City Tour, besides visiting many touristy destinations in Saigon, if you have the opportunity to go across District 5, you should be a guest of Binh Tay Market.