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The historic and photogenic Dong Ba market

People often say that “In order to know how people eat and live, we must come to see their market”. And it is completely true. Đông Ba market is a must-see on your trip to Hue. Besides being the most centralized and bustling trading center, it is also a historic place. Learn more where, when, and why Dong Ba market is one of the best places to shop in Hue. Our final tips share you how to visit it individually or on a guided cultural or food tour.

Where is Dong Ba market?

Dong Ba market is the most important commercial center and best places to shop in Hue. It is located by the northern bank of the Perfume River. After crossing the iconic Truong Tien bridge, you can turn right on Tran Hung Dao Street for about 200 meters. The market is a large compound stretching on your right-hand side until Gia Hoi bridge.

When is the best time to visit Dong Ba market?

The market is active from 4 am to late evening because the trade is very diverse. It varies from farm produces to food, groceries, handicrafts, etc. However, as a tourist, you’d better come around 8 am to 4pm when all the stalls are fully operational.

Why is Dong Ba market one of the best places to shop in Hue?

A brief history of Dong Ba Market

In 1805, Emperor Gia Long ordered to establish a market in front of the Eastern Gate (East means Đông) of the newly built Citadel. The market facilitated the trading between the ships & boats anchoring on Dong Ba Canal, Perfume River with the citizen, officers inside the Citadel. The original market was located nearby the Đông Hoa Fortress (today Phan Đăng Lưu Street). Hence its name was Đông Hoa market. In the beginning of the rule by Emperor Thiệu Trị, 1841, the Court asked to change the name Đông Hoa to Đông Ba. The reason was that Hoa was the name of his mother Hồ Thị Hoa. (Under the feudal time, it is not allowed to use the same name than those come from the royalty). Meanwhile, Ba and Hoa still has the same meaning as “flower”.

On the 20th October 1898, Emperor Thành Thái stamped a royal decree to establish the municipality of Huế. This decree was suggesting a planning and modernization of the landscape along the Perfume River. Đông Ba market changed to today location. At the early days, it was still modest, marked with one chapel and the 4-face clock on top, rounded by 4 blocks of shops. Today, the market compound has expanded to more than 47.614m2. This place witnessed the ups and downs of Huế more than a century.

Dong Ba market in the old day

Dong Ba market: damaged and rebuilt

Unfortunately, during the battle of Huế in 1968, this place endured bad damage. With the love of Hue people, it has come back strongly as seen today. Dong Ba market was always lying at the central of economic and local living of Huế. Especially, before Tết holidays, this commercial center is so enchanting with all exposition of craft products, food and offering. The wet market and the road between the main hall and the river is convenient to explore on foot, bicycle or cyclo.

Dong Ba Market 1962-1963

What is the best way to visit Dong Ba market?

Normally, a guided city tour often include Dong Ba market and the Citadel in one half day. This attraction is in a short distance from your central hotels. Therefore, you can take a leisure walk to explore independently. Taxi, or cyclo are available and may cost from 50,000 to 100,000d/trip.

Travelers on our cycling tour to Kim Long village, also make a warm-up ride through Đông Ba wet market in the morning. It’s lively, it’s photogenic! Our guide share more stories about Dong Ba market from past to present. Alternatively, you can rent a bike and cycle around Hue to visit the Citadel or Gia Hoi Old Quarter. Then you can not miss out Dong Ba market.

Our top 5 itineraries for cycling from Hue city center give you some tips to explore this historic and photogenic spot by your own. If you want to explore afield, why not hop on a sampan which will take you through to Cồn Hến Island, like all the locals do every day.

Keep reading: Top 5 itineraries for cycling from Hue center

What you need to know when browsing Dong Ba market?

If you’re a foodie and like to explore local dishes, Dong Ba market is a heaven. You can see, photograph, learn from many open kitchens and food stalls. For tasting or eating, please consider the hygiene conditions. If you are unfamiliar with local species, it is better to take precautions to avoid stomach upset.

Like any other crowding places, you need to stay vigilant to your belongings. You may encounter someone offer to help you with shopping in case you need a facilitator speaking foreign language. Judge it by common sense! If you prefer doing it by your own, then it is better to politely refuse the assistance at the beginning.

Bargain is possible and it is also fun to do. Nevertheless, do avoid hard bargaining when the shops just open. Local believe that the first sales must be smooth otherwise it brings bad luck for the whole day. Certainly, you don’t want to be the target of any blame, do you?

We hope the above give you a quick overview about the historic Dong Ba market. More than being one of the best places to shop in Hue, it prevails the local living and culture. It is very convenient located thus you can easily plan it on a guided tour or self exploration. Cycling, walking fit in ideally. The cycling itineraries by Slow Travel Hue offer you the insights to combine its with the surrounding villages, old quarters and attractions.

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