Dam Market (Cho Dam in Vietnamese) is one of three major markets in Nha Trang. The other two are Xom Moi market, which is a food market in the city centre, and Nha Trang Night Market, which is an open air market with cheap souvenirs and clothes on sale primarily to tourists.
Entrance to Dam Market in Nha Trang
Dam Market is a multi-purpose market selling a wide range of goods from electronics to dried food stuffs and everything in between. Both locals and tourists use this market, although the locals tend to visit earlier in morning (the market opens at around 05:00) and the tourists tend to go later in the afternoon. The street stalls around the permanent market building set up from the mid morning onward. The market closes at around 18:00.
About Dam Market
Dam Market started operating in 1974. The concrete building in the centre of the market, which is predominantly a clothes market, dates back to this time. Its a large, unique and ugly structure with stalls closely grouped together. Its slightly chaotic which is part of its charm.
Clothes section of Dam Market
The clothes section of the market covers two floors of this concrete building. The upper floor is in reality merely a wide balcony from which shoppers can look down onto the lower floor with a narrow walkway to the side of closely market market stalls. In the centre of the market is a pool with a now non-functional fountain, around which there are chairs and tables for customers at the food stalls nearby. At the time the market was designed it was clearly intended to be a cutting edge facility. The design, however, has not stood the test of time and the building is a vintage reminder of the post-war aspirations of the newly unified Communist state of Vietnam that didn’t quite work out as well as intended.
Inside the clothing market at Dam Market
Most of the stalls sell clothes. Every conceivable style and type of clothing is on sale. Some of the stalls sell very cheap (fake) designer goods. Some sell t-shirts intended to both foreign and domestic tourists. Other stalls sell clothes which local people might wear. There are no fixed prices and if you aren’t local expect to be charged a lot more than those who are.
Souvenirs on sale in the clothing section of Nha Trang Market
Amongst the clothing stalls there are stalls selling other types of goods. You can buy cheap domestic items, such as plugs, lamps, kitchen utensils, kettles and irons here. They also sell souvenirs of all types, sunglasses and pretty much anything else an enterprising stall holder reckons he or she can sell.
Food section of Dam Market
Next to the main market building is smaller and newer rectangular building where foodstuffs are sold. This part of the market is nowhere near as chaotic as the clothes market. The stalls are organised into rows with wide passageways in between and the wider entrance ways make this building much less oppressive than the original circular market building next door.
Dried shrimp and fish at Dam Market
The main product on sale is seafood. Nha Trang is famous for its seafood, particularly its dried shrimp, squid and cuttlefish, which are all key ingredients in Vietnamese cuisine. Some the dried food products are sold loose in containers, other than are packaged up in boxes and suitable to be taken away and transported elsewhere. Vietnamese visitors to the city often come to Dam Market specifically to buy pre-packaged dried seafood to give their friends and family when they return from their holidays in the city.
Toys and souvenirs at the food market in Nha Trang
Amongst the food stalls are other stalls selling souvenirs and children’s toys. Like the rest of Dam Market the prices are not fixed and you need to bargain hard to get anything cheap here.