One of the truly wonderful things about Melbourne is its rich and varied multiculturalism. According to the 2006 census, this city is home to the second-largest Asian population in Australia, including the country’s largest Indian and Sri Lankan communities. We are made up of 180 nationalities who speak 233 languages, and almost a quarter of our inhabitants were born overseas.
For a travel junkie like me, access to a range of cultures is a necessity. And one of the best places to indulge my addiction is Little Saigon Market in Footscray.
If you come here around closing time – between, say, 5.30pm and 7pm, especially on a weekend – this place will be in full swing. Vietnamese-speaking fruit vendors will push trays of exotic-looking fruit slices under your nose, urging you to sample and buy. You can pick up entire bags full of fruit and vegetables for a pittance, then duck across to the meat and fish counters for your week’s supplies. The noise and the bustle is fantastic; you really will feel as though you have been transported to Vietnam without ever getting on a plane.
Address: Byron St, Footscray VIC 3011
Tel: 9687 3505
Opening hours: 9am–6pm from Monday to Thursday, 9am–8pm on Fridays, 9am–7pm on Saturdays, 9am–5pm on Sundays (despite these official hours, I’ve been there after 6pm plenty of times during the week and the market’s still going…)
PS After visiting the market, pop around the corner for a Saigon Pho and your Vietnam-via-Melbourne experience will be complete.