In cities, markets are usually crowded from early morning until late night. In rural areas, markets may only be open only in the morning or only in late afternoon. In mountainous areas, markets may only be open once in a while which people wait for the opening like some kind of ceremony.
All markets in Vietnam are very crowded, noisy and chaotic (especially to first-timers). But people who come here still enjoy the fun and the cheap prices. In the West, people go to the super-market once a week to buy a lot of stuff (whole week’s supply). In Vietnam, many local people spend half day or all day in the markets, they even eat and drink and enjoy the atmosphere.
Markets in different regions in Vietnam have different styles. Food markets are everywhere in Vietnam. There are all kinds of interesting seafood markets around beach towns. Highland markets have all kinds of stuff from the mountainous communities, from handicrafts to jewelries, from textiles to food, etc… In other words, each market in Vietnam is a different part of the Vietnamese culture as well as a part of the daily life.
Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi is a bit small but it has been in Hanoi for a long time and therefore become an important part of Hanoi. Ben Thanh Market in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is larger than Dong Xuan Market and it has always been the symbol of Saigon. Han Market in Danang is quite famous as well. Tay Nguyen highland has Buon Me Market. Sapa Market is the symol of North West Vietnam. Hue has the famous Dong Ba Market while Nha Trang has Dam Market. The only way to understand about these markets is to go there.
In terms of economics, markets in Vietnam have been playing a key role in daily consumptions of the people. Beyond trading and goods, Vietnamese markets have become attractions not only for the local people but also for visitors. For Vietnamese people who live abroad, going to the market is one of the first things they want to do once they are back in Vietnam. This may sound awkward but in fact, markets in Vietnam have become an example for sensationalism of the Vietnamese people.