Eat like a local at this Saigon night market

No frills, just tasty food. This vibrant market opens every night from 6:30 p.m. until 11 p.m., right in front of Pham Van Hai Market in Tan Binh District. The place was set up around a year ago, believed to be one of the few well-organized venues for street vendors who once were treated as sidewalk invaders.

Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, 31, prepares to set up her sticky rice stall. “Back then I was nervous all the time. I was always scared that police would chase me away,” Anh said of the time before she moved to this market two months ago. "Now I’m very happy having my own place.”

Food stands selling porridge, broken rice and crab noodle soup line up along the sidewalk. The vendors pay a fee of VND500,000 ($22) a month, and they have unlimited access to water and electricity.

Nguyen Thi Gai, 46, sets up her snail and seafood stall. "It's better than having to push a cart on the streets.”

Chao trang, or "white porridge" may sound plain but it is a favorite supper for a night in Saigon. Diners can add red beans, salted eggs or braised shrimps. Luu, the 40-year-old vendor in this picture, moved to the market from a nearby street corner. Many of her regular customers still come around.

A busy stall selling Vietnam's famous fresh spring rolls and crab soup. “We did not want to sell on the sidewalk. We just could not find an affordable place,” Kieu Oanh, 30, recalled the old days.

A stall serving boiled duck embryos with laksa leaves. The snack might spook some first-timers, but it is beloved across Vietnam.

Quynh Tran

By Quynh Tran