Dong Ba Market Hue Vietnam – Comprehensive Travel Guide

Do you know where to get the clearest feeling about the lives of local people on normal days in Hue? Dong Ba Market is an ideal place for travelers to immerse in the authentic rhythms of daily life in Hue. From the fragrant aromas of freshly prepared regional delicacies to the dazzling array of handcrafted Vietnamese souvenirs, Dong Ba Market offers a sensory experience that captures the very essence of this captivating city on the banks of the Perfume River.

What do you know about Dong Ba Market?

Before the opening of Dong Ba Market, there was a grand market named Qui Gia Thi outside of Chanh Dong Gate during the reign of King Gia Long. The name Qui Gia Thi referred to the return of the Nguyen Dynasty to the city of Phu Xuan (presently known as Hue).

However, Qui Gia Thi Market was burned to ashes during an attack on the capital in 1885. Two years later, King Dong Khanh rebuilt and renamed the market “Dong Ba Market”. Since then, Hue Dong Ba Market has been a hub for local trade and has functioned as the main source of food for hospitals, royal families, army camps, dormitories of national universities, and the public.

In the last year of the 19th century, Dong Ba Market was moved to its present location. Established over a century ago, the market has long served as a vital center of local commerce, providing a dynamic marketplace for an array of traditional Vietnamese goods til now.

Dong ba market in the old days
Dong ba market in the old days

In a nutshell for your information:

Location: Dong Ba Market is located in the heart of Hue City, right by the Perfume River.
Open time: Open daily from 06:00 AM to around 06:00 PM.
Design areas: A central 3-story building called the “Bell Tower”, surrounds U-shaped buildings. Each floor has dedicated sections for different product categories:

  • 3rd Floor: Selling fabric, clothing, and specialty áo dài materials
  • 2nd Floor: Selling handicrafts, such as conical hats, metal wares, Phước Tích ceramics, bamboo products, and other souvenirs
  • 1st Floor: It’s the place for dried seafood from Central Vietnam and a variety of Hue specialty fish sauces (mắm) like mắm cô Ri and mắm nêm

What’s on this vibrant market?

1. Shopping with many Vietnamese craft items

Dong Ba Market in the city of Hue is a three-story shopping haven offering a diverse array of goods, making it an ideal destination to find Vietnamese souvenirs and gifts for loved ones. Here, you can browse through an abundance of options, including fabrics for custom-tailored clothing, exquisite handicrafts, and decorative metal wares:

Ao Dai: The traditional Vietnamese long dress, or Ao Dai, is a popular item sold at Dong Ba Market. You can find beautifully embroidered and tailored Ao Dais in a variety of colors and styles.

Lacquerware: Hue is known for its lacquerware, and you can find an impressive selection of lacquered bowls, trays, vases, and other décor items at Dong Ba Market.

Silk paintings: Talented local artists sell delicate silk paintings depicting Vietnamese landscapes, landmarks, and cultural scenes.

Woven baskets: Intricate woven baskets and other handcrafted items made by skilled artisans are abundant in the market.

Buying souvenirs with Vietnamese craft items in the market
Buying souvenirs with Vietnamese craft items in the market

2. Savor in mouth-watering Hue specialties

Dong Ba Market in Hue is not only a treasure trove of Vietnamese crafts and souvenirs, but also a haven for culinary delights. As you wander through the bustling corridors of this historic marketplace, your senses will be inundated with the tantalizing aromas of regional specialties.

Surrounding the market, numerous rows of tantalizing snack stalls come alive, beckoning passersby to indulge in a delectable array of local delicacies. Here is a wish list for your food tour in this vibrant market:

Banh Khoai: This savory fried crepe, stuffed with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts, is a signature dish of Hue cuisine.

Che Bap: This sweet corn pudding is a refreshing and delightful treat on a hot day. There are also many types of Che Hue (Hue sweet soup) for you to try.

Bun Bo Hue (must-try): The famous spicy beef noodle soup of Hue, with its unique lemongrass-infused broth, is a must-try.

Hue Cakes: An assortment of steamed and fried cakes, both savory and sweet, can be found at the food stalls.

Savor delicious food in Dong Ba
Savor delicious food in Dong Ba

Must-read travel information

Best time to visit

Anytime in a year, you could visit Dong Ba Market as it is open daily all year around. But for the best experience in a day, you should visit this market at around 15:00. Because at this time the weather is quite pleasant and cool, the flow of people in the market is not too crowded and also all the shops are open so you can comfortably explore.

How to get there?

It is very easy to reach Dong Ba Market due to its location in the center city of Hue. You can easily go on foot, car, bike, or motorbike or book a grab through your mobile phone as booking a motorbike or car through a mobile app like Grab is very common in Hue.

Visit Dong Ba Market

Tips for bargaining

When shopping at Dong Ba Market, one of the joys is the opportunity to engage in the time-honored tradition of bargaining. When shopping for craft items and souvenirs at Dong Ba Market, keep these bargaining tips in mind:

  • Maintain a friendly and polite demeanor when engaging with vendors
  • Greet vendors with a warm “Xin chào” to establish a positive rapport
  • Resist immediately offering a low price, as this can be seen as disrespectful
  • Listen to the vendor’s initial price, then counter with a reasonable offer (around 50-70% of the original amount)
  • Engage in a polite back-and-forth negotiation, but avoid becoming overly aggressive or confrontational
  • Remember that bargaining etiquette does not apply to fixed-price food items, so savor these local delicacies without the need to negotiate

How to get the best Dong Ba market day trip?

To make the most of your day trip to Dong Ba Market in Hue, consider the following tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes for extensive walking
  • Remember to bring VND cash for trading in Dong Ba market and also other local markets
  • Bring small bills and coins to facilitate transactions
  • Research local specialties beforehand
  • Start on the upper floors for crafts, then explore the ground level
  • Engage in friendly bargaining with vendors
  • Leave room in your luggage for souvenirs

By following these tips and after this travel guide blog, the Indochina Voyages team hopes you will have a complete picture of Dong Ba Market for the best experience in the Hue excursion. Consider combining your visit to Dong Ba Market with other top attractions in Hue, such as the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, or a boat trip on the Perfume River, for a well-rounded day exploring the cultural heritage of this historic city.

Hue is the perfect place for explore Vietnamese culture and off-beat experiences, maybe you’ll want to read more: Beyond the Ordinaries of Vietnam: 10+ Unusual Things to Do in Hue

Thuy Dang – From Indochina Voyages Team

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