Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Out of nowhere, flea markets have appeared in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. But what makes them such a phenomenon? Words by Vu Ha Kim Vy and Emily Petsko


Ho Chi Minh City


Thanks to Facebook, I first heard about the Saigon Urban Flea Market at Saigon Outcast two years ago and Saigon Flea Market in District 7 last year. I recently discovered 1Spot in front of Victory Hotel on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia when I was heading to the Songkran Water Festival in April.


“It has been six years since we held the first Saigon Flea Market. Now we run it every weekend,” says Doan Thu Hang, founder of Saigon Flea Market.


It’s a humid and hot afternoon when I come to Hang’s flea market at IDECAF for a chat. Despite the weather, there are quite a number of visitors including locals and foreigners. Wandering around the market, I start to understand why the flea market has become a phenomenon.

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy 

Business Opportunities


“I sell my products online as I cannot afford a shop,” says Tuyen, owner of Ms. Tuyen, a stall specialising in fried meat. “So this is a good chance for me to get my products popular and find more clients.”


“I got involved last year and have seen my business improve,” she continues as she packs a box of fried pork for me. “So I think I will stick with this market for a while.”


Tuyen is not the only advocate; Nhung from Amy in Love also has a small corner for her table that displays handmade necklaces and stacks of fake tattoos. “We have had the stall here several times,” she explains. “Sales are still slow but now we have some regular clients.”

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy 

Photo by Rodney Hughes

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Treasure Hunt


Occupying the whole front yard of IDECAF’s library, the market has around 30 stalls with various products including clothes, bags, shoes, accessories, soaps, ceramics and more. My visit coincides with the first time that Saigon Flea Market has been held at the institute.


“We focus on handmade, designed and vintage items, second-hand goods and imported products,” says Hang. “This attracts visitors who are interested in one-of-a-kind products as well as limited collections.”


As someone who is a fan of buying things second-hand, I understand the feeling of being able to find the rarest items after searching for hours. These flea markets help save time finding those items. In addition, products are cheaper at flea markets than at shops due to taxes and rental.


“I bought this cute bag at Saigon Urban Flea Market for VND150,000. Yeah, I know, so cheap,” Sian, a colleague, told me not long ago. 

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy

A Place to Hangout


Although Saigon Urban Flea Market offers some entertainment including live music, rock climbing, henna drawing and food and drink counters, at IDECAF they put on their first live acoustic show.


“We are thinking about having food and drink counters in the future,” says Hang.


This is a good sign for not only Saigon Flea Market but also the whole scene, as people who are not interested in shopping (i.e. most men) can hang out at flea markets while the women have more time for their favourite hobby. Another advantage of flea markets is that they take place at weekends. — Vu Ha Kim Vy


 Photo by Vu Ha Kim Vy 

Photo by Rodney Hughes

Flea Markets in Ho Chi Minh City




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Saigon Flea Market


Saigon Urban Flea Market


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Viet’s Corner Flea Market


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