Market visit as a social feature of Vietnamese culture
In Vietnamese culture, the market holds a special place, not just as retail space but also a communal and social space. Traditional markets, called ‘chợ dân sinh’, usually occupy a central spot in the village or town, frequented by locals. Both sellers and buyers usually know one another well and are sometimes close neighbors. Markets are either open every day or at weekends with vibrant morning hustle and bustle as motorbikes carry daily fresh produce and goods to the retailers.
Going to the market is not just a functional affair of grocery shopping but also a social time (called đi chợ or họp chợ as a colloquial phrase in Vietnamese) when people exchange stories or news and people form new connections, almost to the extent that there is a Vietnamese proverb that goes ’Trai khôn tìm vợ chợ đông; Gái khôn tìm chồng giữa chốn ba quân’ (Wise men find their future wives in a busy market. Wise ladies find their future husbands in the battlefield) 1
It is also a family occasion when mothers bring their kids out during easily the whole morning for breakfast, shopping and playtime. With a labyrinth of aisles, these traditional markets bring together a diverse host of merchants meeting all kinds of needs and delivering all sorts of experiences from grocery shopping, barbers, fashion stalls and tailors to street food stalls, toy shops and game arcades.