Scenes from Vietnam’s Markets

At the outdoor market in Hoi An, Vietnam, baskets of fresh fruit (limes), vegetables (turnips), flowers, and live ducks sit on the pavement.

The stalls and baskets of Vietnam’s traditional markets overflow with a colorful spectrum of tempting produce: spiky green durian fruit, porcupine-like pink rambutans, chubby carrots, and spring-green onions that could inflict tickling torture. Ladies clad in nón lá hats share the new day’s gossip while selling mountains of rice paper, slabs of tofu, live chickens, flowers and herbs.


As a merchant walks past us with the traditional Southeast Asian twin baskets – suspended by a shoulder pole – we ask if we can give it a go. As I attempt to yoke myself to the carrier, I’m surprised at how challenging it is keeping the baskets balanced. The vendor protectively tends to the contraption, ensuring that no mangosteens, bananas or clementines rappel out of their woven vessel. After trying to lift the carrier for a few fleeting seconds, I am ever-more amazed that these diminutive ladies are able to gracefully carry such heavy loads of produce, as well as their entire businesses. (One petite and enterprising woman, for example, carried pots and pans, soup ingredients, a cooking element, and utensils.)

Having been in Vietnam for a few weeks, I’ve learned some words that come in handy at the marketplace and restaurants. Sữa, for example, means ‘milk,’ Cám ơn ‘thank you.’ The bargaining and Vietnamese cooking skills need some fine-tuning, though, the latter of which I’ll report on shortly! :)


Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

6 thoughts on “Scenes from Vietnam’s Markets

    1. Good Morning, Antoinette ~ nice to see you again! We’ve actually left Vietnam, but I have a plethora of pictures yet to share.

      The carrying techniques throughout Asia amazed me – from these Vietnamese twin baskets, to Indian ladies balancing heavy loads of firewood on their heads, to the Balinese ladies toting offering baskets. They’re so graceful.

  1. Bravo aux photographes pour ces magnifiques clichés hauts en couleur !
    J’ai l’impression d’avoir un peu voyagé avec vous ! Profitez bien de votre joli périple !

  2. Again, Tricia you blow me away your photography (it’s brilliant) and your writing. It is my daily pleasure to travel with you on your amazing adventures. Again and again I say Bravo. Virginia

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