Saigon Plaza Santee Alley - Markets in LA

Two very different markets for scoring bargains in Los Angeles

Saigon Plaza and Santee Alley Snapshot


Saigon Plaza is located in the heart of Chinatown in LA not far from the Chinatown public transit station. The Santee Alley Market is centered between E. 12th Street and Olympic Blvd from Santee Street to Maple Avenue.


Saigon Plaza’s hours vary depending on the vendor, but most are open 7 days a week from roughly 8 or 9 AM till at least the late afternoon.

The Santee Alley Fashion District Markets are open 365 Days a year, 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM.

What You'll Find

Saigon Plaza is typical of many Chinatown markets. You can find clothing, household goods, electronics, and many Chinese traditional foods, medicines, and trinkets. 

Santee Alley is loaded with shops selling clothing, shoes, accessories and more. While some of it is fake or lower quality, it’s possible to get some wholesale legit goods here!

Los Angeles Market Video 

Los Angeles Fake Market Spree!

This is the MOST requested city that I visit from all of you – Los Angeles, USA! We are going on a journey through multiple markets here in LA including Saigon Plaza in Chinatown, and Santee Alley. We’re bargaining for a wide variety of stuff, really whatever we see. From shirts, accessories and even real gold jewelry (and much more).

Check out what you can find at the markets in LA and if it’s possible to bargain for a great deal here in the States!

 Everything to Know About these Markets in Los Angeles

How to Get to Saigon Plaza & Santee Alley Markets in LA?

Getting to Saigon Plaza in Chinatown

If arriving by car from the west take the 110 and the 10 if from the east. Metered parking is available on street as well as nearby parking lots. Free parking is available on Main St. by the Los Angeles Historic State Park.

For those without a car, Saigon Plaza is also serviced by public transit off of the Metro L Line Chinatown Station and by buses 81, 91, 94, 28, 45 and 83.

los angeles metro sign at union station transportation to chinatown

Getting to Santee Alley Fashion District

The Santee Alley markets are centered between E. 12th Street and Olympic Blvd from Santee Street to Maple Avenue.

By car the Santee Alley can be reached by taking the 10, 110 or 101 towards downtown L.A.

If taking public transit, the area is serviced by the following bus routes: 30, 40, 51, 52, 733 and D.

Limited street parking is available in the area, most parking lots in the area are attended and charge $5 a day.

Shopping in Chinatown & Santee Alley in LA

Exploring the markets of LA was a bit different than other markets around the world. Although it is possible to do a bit of negotiating, you might have to be creative to score some deals here.

Shopping at Saigon Plaza – Chinatown

saigon plaza sign LA market in chinatown

Saigon Plaza is a hidden gem located in L.A.’s Chinatown where you can still engage in some bartering and find products that can be hard to get elsewhere, like fresh sugarcane. Located in the heart of Chinatown, this shopping center is a full of products that practically overwhelms the senses — quite similar to the markets you find in Asia!

Individual vendors sell their goods in small storefronts that encourage patrons to stroll by and window shop or stop briefly to sample goods. Haggling is possible here for those looking to get the best deal. If you aren’t sure if the price is negotiable, then just wait a bit to “think it over” and see if they offer to come down in price. 

Then you know they’re open to haggling!

Products Available at Saigon Plaza

It’s not just cheaply made children’s clothing and knock-off qipaos, good deals can be found for those that are patient and look around a bit. Besides good deals on clothing, jewelry and other home goods, you will also find a variety of vendors offering deals on consumer electronics such as cell phones and accessories. Lastly, you will find vendors selling Chinese cultural goods, such as traditional food, medicine and religious items.

Shopping at Santee Alley Fashion District

santee alley fashion district outdoor night market in LA

The Santee Alley Fashion District markets are home to something uniquely L.A. Thanks to the city’s famously gorgeous weather, the fashion district’s market is able to have over 150 shops that are open and outdoors year-round.

Personally, I love the feel of this market! Maybe it’s the weather, I don’t know. But the atmosphere in this market was great and shopkeepers seemed to be a lot more open and relaxed than in Saigon Plaza. 

The area’s skinny alleys are filled to the brim with different vendors selling everything from shoes and sports jerseys to hats and perfumes. And fashion items aren’t the only things available to visitors, as many inventive eateries around here have great foods try out

Products Available in Santee Alley

More so than many traditional markets, the quality of the goods to be found here in Santee Alley are quite good. While there are some cheaper knockoffs, I found some good quality items that you can buy in bulk too.

Visitors can find artisans and vendors dedicated to single items, such as hats or belts. There are also vendors that cater to consumers on a budget. You can also find stores for children’s products, menswear and athletic apparel. Women’s wear vendors are also everywhere, along with smaller shops dedicated to health and beauty.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles, California?

Since Los Angeles is such a popular tourist destination for people from the US and all over the world, you can pretty much find any type of accommodation you want. 

From luxury hotels, budget hostels, boutique hotels as well as Airbnb apartments for rent. It really just depends on your budget.

Although, LA is a pretty big town and traffic can get bad. So I always recommend finding somewhere to stay that is central to where you will be going out and finding things to do. You definitely don’t want to be traveling clear across LA everyday during your visit.

Places to Visit in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is famous as a tourist destination. So there are a ton of things to do around town, and nearby LA.

Hollywood Boulevard, Walk of Fame, and the Chinese Theatre

For those looking for a little of the “Old L.A.” glitz and glamour, an iconic stop for many people visiting LA is the Hollywood area. Here you can stroll Hollywood Boulevard and find your favorite stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Previously known at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the famous Chinese Theater here in Hollywood has been home to many movie premiers, including the original Star Wars. The theatre is still open to the public and you can catch a flick here yourself if you care to, on one of the largest IMAX screens in the world.

Be sure to check out the handprints of famous movie stars out in front of the theater along the concrete walkways.

More Popular Sights Nearby LA to Visit

Other popular things to see in do in and around LA include:

  • Disneyland Resort and theme parks
  • Universal Studios Hollywood
  • Venice Beach
  • Santa Monica Pier & Beach
  • The Griffith Park & Observatory
  • Visit the Getty Center
  • LA County Museum of Art
  • Warner Brothers & Paramount Pictures Studio Tours
  • Dine at the trendy Grand Central Market

What to Eat in Los Angeles?

No trip to L.A. is complete without enjoying some of the great local food the city has to offer. And the options when you are here are nearly endless. L.A. is known for its excellent cuisine that is often the pride of its local immigrant communities.

World-class Thai and Vietnamese food can be found in humble neighborhoods, and local favorites like bubble tea have been given new popularity and spread across the country. No matter what your favorite food is, you are bound to find a great example of it in L.A., but below we will focus on two types specifically, Korean and Mexican food.

Mexican and Korean Food in LA

Two of the most popular, and influential, ethnic foods in L.A. would have to be Mexican and Korean cuisine. The two styles represent incredibly different countries and can hold a variety of styles and flavors.

Those looking for quality Mexican food should frequent one of the city’s parking lot taco stands, for some of the freshest, most authentic (and cheapest!) Mexican food around. A spot like Leo’s Taco Truck (located at 1515 S. LA Brea Ave.) is famous for their smoky Al Pastor tacos that are representative of the proprietors Mexico City roots.

Korean food may not be as familiar to some, but it is growing in popularity worldwide thanks to its inventive and tasty flavors. One of the best ways to experience Korean cuisine yourself is to go to a Korean BBQ. Luckily, Los Angeles has many great Korean BBQs where you will be able to marinate and cook your very own prime slices of pork, beef or seafood right on a tabletop grill.

One example would be Hae Jong Chon Korean BBQ Restaurant (located at 3821 W 6th Street in Serrano Marketplace), where you can BBQ your meet on their distinctive circular grills.

About Chinatown in Los Angeles

L.A.’s Chinatown has one of the most vibrant histories you can find anywhere in the states. The Chinese community’s origins in the Los Angeles area dates back to the 1860s. This is when mostly male Chinese laborers were brought over to work on the western section of the transcontinental railroad, and afterward they began to settle in the city.

These early immigrants hailed mostly from Guangdong province, and it is this specific culture that continues to influence and provide cultural roots for the city’s community today. Despite the city’s first Chinatown being demolished to make way for Los Angeles’ Union Station, a second Chinatown was built soon after, in 1938, and remains largely vitally intact today.

chinatown sign in los angeles

You’ll find L.A.’s Chinatown just northwest of the city’s main downtown district, bordering Little Tokyo to the south, with the Chavez Ravine and Dodgers Stadium rising to the north.

The “new” Chinatown has come to be a mix of Chinese and American-influenced architecture and was designed and built with extensive community input. The new Chinatown has been constantly added to over the years, for example, the downtown plaza was refurbished in 2011 and the nearby wishing well was added in 2001.

The pagoda-themed architecture and traditional dragons can be spotted throughout the area, even the local Metro Rail L Line stop’s Chinatown Station gets in on the action.

Introduction to Los Angeles

LA is much more than just Hollywood and famous actors. The “City of Angels” is a vibrant melting pot with a ton of history and even more things to do.

L.A. is home to diverse communities, of which the Asian and Latino communities are just two, each with their own history and cultural influence on the area. One specific example would be L.A.’s Chinese community, which has historically centered around the city’s Chinatown and which has deep ties to the city’s cuisine and its role as a global trade powerhouse.

Luckily, for those looking to explore aspects of L.A. like these, doing so is as simple as leaving the city’s theme parks behind and exploring the Los Angeles that is already all around you.

History of Trade & Producing Goods in Los Angeles

While L.A. is popularly known for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the city also is home to one of the busiest ports in the world, the Port of Los Angeles.

The port is one of the main arteries through which goods are shipped into the United States, in fact it is the number one container port in the country. This makes Los Angeles one of the hubs for global trade and an important producer and seller of domestic goods in its own right.

long beach port in los angeles

There is an entire business community in Los Angeles dedicated to efficiently moving products from L.A.’s port across the country. Because of all of these factors combined, L.A. can be a great place to come if you are looking for a deal. With less middlemen between you and your goods, things can be cheaper, if you know where to look. 

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