The market culture in the life of the Vietnamese people

Many people believe that if you want to learn about the life, culture, and customs of a region or a certain village, you should go to the local market. It is because the market is the most complete expression of the socio-economic and cultural life of an area.

In the process of integration and development, market culture in Vietnam has many changes. However, it still retains its basic features as a place for trade, exchange, purchase and sale of goods, and also an area to preserve many cultural characters, a site to connect the community, and living space associated with the lives of workers.

market culture in Vietnam
The market culture creates a typical feature in Vietnam. © havantai/pixabay

Here are the details of the market culture in Vietnam to note when searching Vietnamese culture.

Buying and selling local products

The markets are a great place to introduce local products, especially in villages. Because of the habit of small farming, indigenous people have anything in the garden, and they will sell it when they do not use up.

Thus, when you go to the local markets, you can find different items, and mostly Vietnamese vegetables and fruits. The indigenous people have contributed to making the market diverse with local products. As a result, most farming things are not labeled, but people often know their origins.

Nowadays, trade and exchanging goods is much better, so the rural markets do not lack industrial products and agricultural items from other regions in Vietnam. Since then, it creates various choices for local people when shopping.

Therefore, everyone going to the market needs a little skill to differentiate between local agricultural things from the other areas. One outstanding feature is that local products are green, seasonal, and usually only available in small quantities.

Meeting and chatting with each other

The market is not only a place for trading, but it is also an area to meet and chat for local people.

Local Market in Vietnam
Chatting is a fun thing for the locals in the market while squatting. © tayphuong388/pixabay

Most Vietnamese people want to go to the market, sometimes not to buy goods, just to look at the items, watch people, mix in the excitement, and meet acquaintances.

Plenty of the locals in the countryside want to go to the market every day. Typically, some of them often bring a few goods to the market to sell, only a few, every day is the same.

Ultimately, they do not have to sell it, that is an excuse to go there to meet friends. You can see common images in most countryside markets, many women wear the traditional Vietnamese hat, and sit together and talk.

They tell stories from the beginning of the village to the hot news; they all bring everything to discuss and exchange. All just want the market to be fun.

The market is the place to find a half for a lover

Not only stopping at the daily exchange of stories, but the market is also a site to exchange love between boys and girls, to find the ideal lover for themselves.

bac ha market
Bac Ha Market | @h.m.mukit

This specific thing usually takes place in some mountainous markets, especially the Bac Ha market in Lao Cai (a province in Northwest Vietnam). The market only is held once a week; at that time, young people with beautiful clothes go to the market, not to buy and sell, but to find a lover.

The boys usually show off their talent for blowing the flutes, and the girls show the skill for embroidery through the clothes worn on the body. Both of them play together, such as traditional games of throwing balls and swings for them to find half of their life.

These uniquely interesting love markets gather plenty of people. Although today the active style of these markets is reduced more or less because of better communication (ex phone …), they still go on in the mountains.

Therefore, the markets have become a place that attracts many tourists to visit. Not only boys and girls, but also older people come there to trade, meet friends, chat, and enjoy local food.

Showing the friendly behavior of local people

The market culture shows most clearly with friendly behavior, because most people stay in the same village, the same town, so they have already known each other. It is because of the acquaintance, the seller says not a too high price, and the buyer just bargains a little bit lower. Both sides are satisfied and happy, so the relationship between the buyer and the seller is quite dear and truthful.

Ending the market, they will tell each other to see them again to buy in the next day. Just like that, a beautiful culture in the market formed and has live in life. The seller and the buyer are happy, and both trust each other. The friends are the customers, so the owners trust the customers as friends. The way of trading is very simple and harmonious, imbued with the love of the villagers.

At present, sometimes, due to the stressful life, disputes may take place here and there. However, when quarreling with each other, they do not let the conflict get too tense. At the same time, the other market sellers will act as solvers to cool down the quarrels. As a result, then everyone is staying together in the market again.

Being happy to buy and sell

As mentioned above, the seller says a different high price, and the buyer tells a little lower. But, both feel good to buy and sell and receive the joy.

Although the owners do not say the right price, just a little high, it is not untrue, and the bid of buyers is also not really an odd. This habit covers a culture of wanting to communicate and interact with others when they bargain.

A happy seller in the local market
A happy seller in the local market | © hyakshow/pixabay

However, due to the development of trade and tourism, many guests come from other places to visit the local markets. Market sellers recognize the visitors visiting and shopping from elsewhere. Thus, they often say higher prices than usual because tourists are usually one-time buyers. Since then, a challenge for a high rate has been formed, which causes misconceptions for market culture: a feature of saying challenging high prices.

As a result, if you visit some markets such as Dong Ba Market in Hue City (Vietnam) or Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh, you will have to bargain at a high price. However, with other local markets, especially in the countryside, the price is not too high. The bargaining is sometimes just for fun, and only for industrial products and travel items (such as bags or clothes), but for food and drink, no one bids the price.

Gathering local cuisine

The market is not only for shopping and sightseeing, but it is also a place for people to have a chance to enjoy local food and learn more about Vietnamese cuisine.

food market
Food Market | @az_azusaiida

From the countryside to the city and from plains to mountains in Vietnam, nearly any market has areas dedicated to selling indigenous food. Typically, there is a food market near the Old Town of Hoi An, and the street food market in Saigon near the Ben Thanh Market.

Coming to the market, some people want to eat a cup of cold sweet soup for a hot day. The others like to taste fragrant pho, or like fresh rolls. Depending on each region, every time you go to the market, you can smell, watch, and try the unique local flavors.

However, if you are a foreign tourist, you should pay attention to ready-to-eat food in the markets because of hygiene issues.

Indicating the organization

Trading with friends and selling as groups show clearly in the sense of organization of markets in Vietnam. The management department divides the market area into small sections. At each part, a kind of products will be displayed, such as home appliances, clothing areas, green vegetables, fish sales, butchers, fresh local fruits, and a food court.

fish market
The fish secsion in Hoi An Market | @ shotak.photravel

This culture style affects the method of business organization of Vietnamese people, which clearly shows the centralized trade habit. In the Hanoi Old Quarter, there are 36 streets, and each street specializes in the business of a specific type of product.

This cultural feature attracts plenty of foreign tourists. Many guests wonder, how can many people sell the same items in the same place? Actually, the Vietnamese consumers have a habit of remembering which area sells what. They only need to go there to buy. For example, they need vegetables to go to the vegetable section. Once there, they can compare the quality by going through many stores, whichever is better, they will stop buying.

Therefore, when selling the same items in the same place, it is convenient for people to go shopping.

Denoting the development of the local economy

When you arrive at the market, you can see to what extent that locality is growing. If the market has a variety of goods, the life of the locals is rich and well-equipped. On the contrary, any land is still backward, poor, sparsely populated, difficult to live in, the market is quiet.

rich market culture in dong ba
Dong Ba Market is one of busy ones in Vietnam. ©Vietnamdrive

The all-day market shows that there is a strong demand for commodity trading and prosperous life. This feature is seen easily in markets in the city. In contrast, to the rural life in agriculture and fishing, the need for a half-day market is sufficient.

For upland markets, meetings only happen once a week, or even once a month. The opening time, sometimes, is from the previous midnight until late afternoon the next day.

Initially, it was purely a place to exchange the products of the people in the village or neighboring villages, covering fabrics, specialty vegetables, or staple foods like corn, potatoes. In addition, it is also an opportunity for boys and girls from different villages to have time and a chance to meet and find their love.

In addition to local markets, wholesale markets are an indispensable part of Vietnamese life. The market is only held for a short time and sells certain items, but the amount of exchanged goods is quite large, fast, and powerful.

The trading style here is also different from popular markets. People buy and sell faster, and the stage of the bargain is less but highly decisive. Buying and selling at wholesale markets almost do not bring elements of sentiment, exchange feelings, and it strongly shows the imprint of the market economy.

Wholesale markets often open for a short time, like vegetable markets that usually happen from midnight to 3:00 am or 4:00 am, Thanh Ha Fish Market in Hoi An that is crowded from 5:00 – 5:45 am, other seafood markets on the beaches that open only 1 to 2 hours, or the fish market on Tam Giang Lagoon in Hue at 4:00 am – 5:00 am. They happen quickly because the wholesale markets have specific features of the places for goods transshipment to other areas. Although these markets have a short time, the amount of purchase is a large quantity.

The unique culture shows the national spirit through the markets, becoming a tourist attraction to explore and learn about the country and people of Vietnam.

Visiting local markets is also the time when people are immersed in the expressive nuances of the Vietnamese and experience the colorful culture.

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.