Back Heritage » Saigon » [Photos] A Shopping Trip in Ben Thanh Market in 1938

[Photos] A Shopping Trip in Ben Thanh Market in 1938

Dried fish? Pomelo? A chicken? Heels? Plates? Perhaps a fizzy soft drink or simple meal on the street? What is on your shopping list when you go to Ben Thanh Market?

As these photos from 1938 reveal, many of the items you travel to famous the District 1 market were on sale there in 1938. While one may certainly have arrived via a different mode of transportation and wasn't likely to see as many plastic-packaged goods, let alone foreign brands, the bustling commercial center was strikingly similar to today. 

When famed French photographer Eli Lotar traveled to Vietnam, he turned his lens towards nearly everything, with an intent to capture people in their normal activities, as opposed to stage shots. During a trip to Ben Thanh Market, this means he snapped people preparing and selling a variety of goods, families enjoying meals at the stalls surrounding the market, and a variety of transportation options waiting to take people wherever they needed to go.

Have a look at the photos below:

Lunch break.

Scales awaiting a deal.

Vegetable supplies dwindling for the day.

Dried fish and vegetables.

Sample pomelos skinned to show their quality.

Awaiting the next customer, looking relaxed.

Clipping vegetable roots.

How much do you think that head of cabbage cost?

Shoes for sale.

Need dishes, glasses and various dining room goods? This guy has you covered.

Roosters for sale.

A rickshaw driver taking a midday snooze.

A woman weaves a basket to sell.

What a friendly looking soda seller!

And an equally happy customer.

How does that man possibly keep that suit clean?

A grinning rickshaw driver beside street vendors.

A simple but effective means of providing shade.

A family enjoys lunch.

Children at the market pose for a photo together.

Transportation gathered outside the market.

Fancy a horse-drawn carriage?

Perhaps you'd prefer a rickshaw.

An automobile, the transport of the future, looms in the background.

[Photos via Flickr user manhhai]

Partner Content