Ho Chi Minh City night market is one big tourist trap

By Nguyen Tran Tam, Thanh Nien News

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The Ben Thanh Night Market in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tran Tam The Ben Thanh Night Market in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tran Tam

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Many tour guides in Ho Chi Minh City say they always warn their clients against visiting the Ben Thanh Night Market, even if they do not have anything else to do after sundown. 
The guides say fake and cheap products are sold widely here and many tourists can be tricked into paying a lot of money. 
“Many tourists still visit the market during their free time in the evening anyway,” said one guide, who asked not to be named. "I always tell them to bargain, even for food, and always hold on to their bags tightly,” he said.
The night market that sells mostly food, clothes and accessories opens from 7 p.m. until late outside Ben Thanh Market.
Thanh Nien reporters posed as tourists to visit the night market recently and found many products are sold for unreasonably high prices.
At one stall, a fake handbag was priced at VND800,000. The seller quickly cut it to VND600,000 and then VND300,000. She insulted any prospective customers who walked away without buying anything. 
At another stall, a knockoff T-shirt was on sale for VND280,000. The vendor quickly said “OK” after she was offered VND100,000.
Some stalls sold lacquer paintings with unknown origins and the paintings peeled off easily. Tea and coffee shops also sold dubious products bearing popular brands.
A Rolex watch for $65
Just a short walk from the market, several shops and malls in the city downtown are selling fake products or those without a clear origin.
At a shop Taka Plaza on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, a fake Piaget watch was sold for US$65 and a fake Rolex watch for $150.
The shop owner claimed that the quality is high even though he admitted that they are knockoffs.
At the Saigon Post Office, a popular tourist destination in the city, many stalls sell brocade, lacquer products and potteries. Most products do not have a brand or origin.
Alexey, a Russian tourist, asked about its origin after choosing a bracelet. The seller only said that it is locally made.
A director of a tourism company in Ho Chi Minh City, who wanted to be unnamed, said the night market and many shopping streets in the city have failed to boost tourism and increase revenues.
“Tourists may visit these places once and will never return. Tourism agencies should take action to stop overcharging.”
“The night market can be a good place to promote tourism. Don’t waste it!”

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