Do you want to authentically experience the real life of Vietnamese? Then go nowhere but the traditional markets. Once in the market, to fully understand about the local culture and more, do not hesitate to grab some local food. Vietnamese food has the most diversity, ranging from the North to the South with different taste and appetites.
If you happen to be in Danang, Cho Con Market (also known as “Con Market”), one of the most famous markets in Danang, would be the perfect place to experience South-Central Vietnam’s food specialties. With only 100.000VND (~$5), you can actually try a wonderful lot of dishes here, it’s like a really good bargain right? So, let’s find out what Con Market has to offer you.
- Location: 290 Hùng Vương, Vĩnh Trung, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng
Opening hours: 6AM - 7:30PM
I. Origin of Con Market
In 1940, a market was built on a high dune in the heart of Da Nang, and it was named “Con” – which means “a high place”. After that, in 1984, the market officially changed its name to “The Commercial Center”. However, local residents and other people still use the name “Con Market” because it’s easier to call.
II. Structure of Con Market
The market is relatively large, consists of 2 buildings and 6 big corners, with over 2000 different stores and booths. Since it is a vital and long-standing wholesale market of Da Nang, Con Market sells everything you need, from fresh food, fruits, clothing and footwear to essential household items,….
However, the most special thing in Con Market that excites the visitors is definitely the “food heaven”. It has all kinds of street food and specialties available only in Da Nang, at an extremely fair price, but the quality is number one.
1. Local Goods
The outer part of the market is full of fresh, locally-grown coffee and tea stalls. You can also find other ingredients here like spices, sugar, cereal… and hand-made baskets as well. If you go a bit further, you will see the fruits and dry food section, along with fresh vegetables.
Keep going inside, you will reach the ‘wet market’, where butchers and fishmongers sell day’s fillets and cuts. If you enjoy fresh food and want to cook them yourself, this is a place with great diversity and you will probably see many different species that may not appear in your country.
Finally, inside the building, you can find some cheap accessories and clothing. They sell a wide range of affordable outfits and also fabric if you want to get custom made clothes. Also, if you need household appliances, this market is also a good place to shop for those.
A small tip: If you’re mainly looking for clothing or household stuff, you can go to Han Market instead, since Han Market has a more moderate price and more diversity of products, while Con Market is most famous for being a food paradise.
2. Food Zone
The culinary area at Con market is divided into 2 areas: outdoor and indoor area.
2.1. Dry Food Zone:
This is the area that most tourists would visit when they come to Con Market, since not only can they buy and immediately try the items available, but they can also buy fresh and delicious dried products as a gift to their family and friends. Since dried food has very quality packaging. tourists do not have to worry when packing it in their luggage and bring it home. The variety of dried food here is great, and each type of dried food actually has a different taste, but they all have a common feature: the smell of the sea in Da Nang.
2.2. Food Court – Indoor Food Court:
The indoor foot court’s layout and arrangement is very neat and easy to follow. Along the path, it is divided into 2 neat and clean sides. On the left side, you can see many booths that trade sweet dishes such as tea, smoothies, fruits like pickled toad, pickled tamarind,… Looking to the right side – this is the most interesting one – you’ll see countless hot dishes that are ideal for main meals like breakfast, lunch or even dinner…
Some famous dishes are: all kinds of noodles (bun, pho, mien, mi,…) , grilled meat vermicelli, banh beo, banh xeo, banh can, … Surprisingly, the price is extremely affordable, only fluctuating about 15,000 – 30,000 VND, so only ~$1-$2/person for a full, delicious meal.
2.3. Street Food – Outdoor Food Area:
The outdoor area of Con Market has always been known as the “snack paradise”. This is a place where you can visit anytime during the day to quickly grab something to eat and drink. There are a lot of snacks such as spring rolls, noodles, banh canh, quang noodles, beef dry salad, duck eggs, banh beo,… If you need some beverage to kill your thirst, the options for drink are also very wide: the famous Ca Phe Sua Da (Iced Milk Coffee), banana tea, rub pomegranate seeds,…
Just like the indoor food court, the price is even cheaper out here. An interesting thing is that the sellers only need a few chairs and a small space with moderate space to serve a dish. That way, they can carry their booth to anywhere they want.
III. What To Eat In Con Market?
1. Banh Xeo
A kind of crispy rice cake topped with shrimp, beef, bean sprouts and vegetables, dipped in a special fish sauce. You will find a lot of booths selling this cake, as it’s the most famous specialty in Da Nang. A set of Banh Xeo usually consists of: 5-7 small pieces of Banh Xeo, extra vegetables, and a bowl of special fish sauce. Usually, visitors also order for 4-6 more sticks of “Nem Lui” to eat with Banh Xeo – a kind of meat-stick. The whole thing would probably cost you 50.000VND (~$2).
2. Quang Noodle (Mi Quang)
This is a special noodle in Vietnam’s South Central area. This noodle is sophisticatedly made, from the cake, to the filling, side dishes and especially the broth, with its own characteristics that are creamy and fatty. There are different versions of Quang Noodle so that you can choose the one that fits your appetite, such as chicken noodle, shrimp noodle, snakehead fish noodle…
When you order a bowl of Quang Noodle, lightly mix the combination so that the broth can be absorbed into each noodle thread, mixed with raw vegetables, peanuts and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice. After that, you can enjoy the most of its flavor. A bowl of Mi Quang would cost about 30.000VND – 50.000VND (~$1 – $2)
3. Dry Pancake Rolls with Pork (Banh trang cuon thit heo)
This is a kind of cake that is also made from rice paper, like Banh Xeo. However, the rice paper here is slightly dipped in water so that it becomes soft and chewy. Delicious pork is cut into very thin pieces yet it still remains its plasticity. Served with raw vegetables with a variety of vegetables from lettuce, cilantro to mangoes, green bananas … Everything is then rolled up and dipped in a special fish sauce whose taste differs in each restaurant. One set of Banh trang cuon thit heo (for one person) is usually 50.000VND (~$2)
4. Bread Soup (Banh Canh)
Banh Canh is a typical dish of Hue, however it has been changed to fit with the taste of Da Nang’s locals. Like Mi Quang, Banh Canh also has many flavors such as pork, shrimp, and snakehead fish. The noodle yarn is also very diverse: flour noodle, rice noodle… A bowl of hot soup cake with delicious broth, with a few pieces of red pepper in the winter – not only the visitors but the local people also love Banh Canh and can eat it everyday without getting bored of the dish. A bowl of Banh Canh is around 30.000 – 50.000VND (~$1-$2)
IV. What to Take Home as a Gift?
There are many things from the dry food zone in Con Market that you can take home as a gift for your family and friends. A few famous things are listed below:
- Mực rim me Đà Nẵng: Fried squid with tamarind sauce
- Mực xé ăn liền Đà Nẵng: Instant grilled squid
- Cá khô Đà Nẵng: Dried fish
- Nước mắm Nam Ô Đà Nẵng: Nam O fish sauce
- Mắm nêm, mắm ruốc Đà Nẵng: Fermented Shrimp Paste
- Kẹo đậu phộng Đà Nẵng: Peanut Candy
- Trà sâm dứa Đà Nẵng: Pineapple Ginseng Tea
A Small tip: Most of these specialties are presented for you to try. Often people will invite you to eat until you eat, or even poke you in the face. But don’t feel the pressure being pulled. Feel free to try it if you like or decline politely and go straight.
V. How to Get to Con Market?
Located at the corner of Quang Trung and Ong Ich Khiem roads – Con Market stays right in the center of the city. You can get there by taxi or by GrabBike. It will only cost maximum 80.000VND (~$4) if you stay near the center.
You can download the Grab apps on your phone to estimate the price before booking a taxi or a motorbike. From the airport, it’s only 2.5km to the market.
VI. Extra Tips
- When buying things that are not hot and instantly-served food at the booth, try to bid down to 40-50% of the price offered by the seller. For example, you can see they sell a pair of sandals for 200.000VND, please pay down to 100.000VND only. Because you are a foreigner and people would assume that you don’t know the proper price for the stuff here, so be careful. The best solution is that you should look for and buy goods that have a listed price.
- Viewing products in many stores will be better, since there are many stores offer the same product but with different price. So you should visit around before deciding to buy something to get the best price.
- If you visit the market in the seafood corner, you should wear a plastic shoes to protect your feet from the dirty water, and also easy to wash after.
Feel fascinating yet? We hope to see you in Con Market soon to try the amazing local specialties and experience being a local resident for a day – going around bargaining for lower prices!