A Heartwarming Charity Market in Ho Chi Minh City: Trading Leaves as Currency

In the unique market, customers are bestowed with leaves as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year. Rather than using currency, these leaves serve as a means of bartering for essential items.


In the afternoon of March 10th, the charity market at Hoc Mon market in Hoc Mon district, Ho Chi Minh City, attracted a large crowd. This annual event aims to support disadvantaged people in the district and is organized by the Management Board of Hoc Mon Market’s Trade Union and the Thien Phat volunteer group.

Nguyen Tuyet Nhung, Head of the Hoc Mon Market Management Board, announced that this year’s market introduced a unique form of currency – leaves. The market is organized by the Management Board of Hoc Mon Market as a special gathering for shoppers to exchange wishes for the new year. As more people became aware of the market’s purpose, the event grew in scale.

The leaf market drew a large crowd early in the morning. Photo: PLO
Each person receives three numbered Bodhi leaves which can be used as currency. Photo: PLO
The market consists of numerous stalls selling nearly 5,000 essential items including vegetarian dishes, savory dishes, tea, drinking water, vegetables, eggs, and spices. All these goods are donated by the Thien Phat volunteer group. Photo: PLO
Nguyen Thanh, a resident of Hoc Mon district, Ho Chi Minh City, shared that the Hoc Mon market holds an annual 0 VND market for disadvantaged people, but this was the first time she had seen and experienced a leaf market. Photo: PLO
Customers can use leaves to exchange for any goods at the market, regardless of the actual price of the goods. Photo: PLO
Ngoc Chau, a resident of Hoc Mon district, Ho Chi Minh City, happily showed her purchases of tea and vegetables. Despite the hot weather, there was a large turnout and everyone was welcoming, she said. Photo: PLO
The program conveys a message that money should be a tool rather than a goal. It advocates for a life of love, sharing, and non-reliance on materialism. Photo: PLO
Many essential items were distributed to the people. Photo: PLO
AS Tuong Vy