WHERE TO SHOP AND WHAT TO BUY IN VIET NAM

I.HANOI SHOPPING

image (2)If you’re particularly enthusiastic about quality textiles, clothes and handicrafts, shopping in Hanoi will not disappoint. The city also has a good range of day and night markets, both indoors and outdoors and you’ll find that night markets are more of a social than shopping occasion but that doesn’t preclude finding bargains at night. There’s a good arts scene alive in Hanoi and let’s face it; in a city this size with a shopaholic population you’re going to find a lot to buy but under less stressful conditions than frenetic Ho Chi Minh City

1.Hang Bac Streetimage (1)

Hang Bac Street is one of the oldest streets in Vietnam and has its roots in silver making dating back to the 13th century when silver casters where brought here from rural villages by request of Le Thang Tong. Silver goods are still produced here today with most of the work being completely original made by secret methods that have been passed down for generations. This is a charming street to explore, rich in history and culture in addition to jewellers selling beautiful Vietnamese pieces Opening Hours: 10:00-20:00 Location: Hang Bac Street, Hoan Kiem District

2.Hang Dau Street

Shoe shoppers will be in retail heaven with hundreds of shoe sellers lining Hang Dau Street. Western men may not find much over size nine but there is plenty of choice in women’s shoes. Most of the footwear consists of brand names made at Vietnamese factories that have been rejected as seconds, making them a great purchase with usually only a small imperfection. There are also plenty of fake reproduction bags where Hang Dau Street meets Lo Su. Opening Hours: 09:00-20:00 (For most stores) Location: Northeast Corner of Hoan Kiem Lake, near the Lo Su intersection

3. Hang Gai Street

Personally tailored suits made to measure from superb quality silk are best bought from a tailor on Hang Gai Street, renowned for its quality and choice of craftsmen. Most stores take credit cards and you should start bargaining at around 50% of the asking price and pay no more than 70%. Suits can be ready in 24 hours and it pays to go to a better quality store and avoid the market street traders to guarantee the best quality silk. This is also a great street to buy rice paper products including paintings, notebooks, lamps and cards. Opening Hours: 09:00-20:00 (For most stores) Location: Hang Gai Street, Hoan Kiem District

4. Intimex Supermarket

Hanoi has its fair share of niche gourmet retail outlets including Intimex which sells a good selection of imported foodstuff and wines on its ground floor. There is also a department store on the second level, small but well stocked – prices are fixed so there’s no need to bargain. Opening Hours: 07:30-20:30 Location: 22-23 Le Thai To Street, West side of Hoan Kiem Lake

5. Trang Tien Plaza

Imported brand names covering the world of fashion, apparel and electronic goods pack the three-storey upmarket Trang Tien Plaza, attracting a young trendy local crowd. Most products are in the luxury bracket at this thriving western-style mall with products including jeans such as Levis and Sony Cameras. The mall is situated on the edge of Hoan Kiem Lake and features a supermarket on the top floor. Opening Hours: 08:00-21:00 Location: Southeast Corner of Hoan Kiem Lake

II.HA LONG BAY SHOPPING

imageThough there are limited options for shopping in Halong Bay, what is actually available can be very interesting. Try the night market at Bai Chay Town. It is set up with many small open-air stalls with good collections of Vietnamese products includes the famous traditional Vietnamese silk dress (ao dai), lacquerware, chopsticks, trinkets, ceramic tea sets, Vietnamese conical hats (nón lá) and dolls. Experienced shoppers recommend bargaining hard to 30-50% of the original offered price. Most shops accept US Dollars as well as the local currency, Dong. Another fun way of shopping is from small floating shops. Local people row boats filled with goods such as beer, vodka, cigarettes, potato chips, cookies and other snacks. Their small boats are usually laden with goods in a very organised way and even if you’re not buying anything these vessels are fascinating to see and photograph. It is important for shoppers not to encourage vendors selling stalagmites and stalactites as they should stay where they belong – inside Halong’s caves and grottos.

III.HUE SHOPPING

image (5)A must-buy item in Hue should include the Vietnamese Nón lá, the conical-shaped hat made by woven palm leaves.

The hat has been around almost as long as the country and is worn by men and women everywhere. The lighter the hat is the more elegant the look.

In Hue especially, the hat makers insert poems into the weaves and the poem can only be seen when the hat is held up to the sunlight, making it even more special.

1.Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba market is on the north bank of the Perfume River, not far from where the Hue Citadel sits.

It has hundreds of stalls selling almost everything from clothing, house-ware items to souvenirs and all at reasonable prices. You will also find local food, fruit and Vietnamese wine sold here.

2.Posh Boutiques

There are some really cool posh boutiques located near the junction by Trang Tien Bridge. To be exact, they are located between Duy Tan Hoteland Trang Tien Bridge. They are all tastefully decorated and usually accept credit cards.

3.The Gift Shops at the Pilgrimage Hotel

These gift shops are outstanding. Divided into four types of crafts, silk/fabric, woodwork, ceramics and rattan/wicker, they feature an assortment of tasteful, traditional and local crafts. There are also local craftsmen on hand to demonstrate their work. The quality of the merchandise is good and the selection and prices are reasonable.

IV.HOI AN SHOPPING

image (2)For most people who visit Hoi An, the two main shopping allures are the Central or Riverside Market and the plethora of cheap tailors downtown.

With the sheer number of tailors available Hoi An is definitely a buyers’ market and the visitor who doesn’t bargain down the price of a suit or silk shirt is really missing out. Of course, many other items are on sale in Hoi An and the ancient charm of the town makes an afternoon or evening out shopping a delight.

Tailors speak both French and English – most stores are open from 08:00 to 21:00

1.Hoi An Central Market

 image (3)Resting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, bustling Hoi An Central Market is certainly worth a look for its authentic slice of Vietnamese life. The market is busy throughout the day with locals bargaining hard alongside tourists so its best to arrive first thing in the morning. The negotiating over fish usually starts around 07:00 as the fishermen drop their catch off and the market vendors and local buyers dive in to get the best fish. Be warned that it can get very messy, nevertheless it’s certainly a sight not to be missed.

Inside the market there are also plenty of live ducks and chickens tied together and ready for sale alongside row upon row of Vietnamese cooking ingredients. The smell can get quite strong as the day heats up and the market will also become a lot busier and louder as the day progresses. If you want to avoid this, then head to the east side and the large shed type building which houses the tailors and all manner of Asian silk and textiles.

2. 155 Art Gallery

155 stands out amongst an assortment of galleries that grace Hoi An’s streets. With mostly water and oil based pieces decorating the wall the pictures for sale here are all by local painters. Most revolve around traditional Vietnamese life including nature, people and costumes; many depict a bygone era. There are some outstanding works of art for sale by very talented local artisans.

Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00
Location: 155 Tran Phu Street (next to the Japanese Bridge), Hoi An

3. Cloth Market

The Hoi An Cloth Market is a dream of silk with some of the finest in Vietnam on sale. The range is wide and varied with plenty of tailors to run up your dream silk suit. Select your cloth yourself from the Cloth Market and choose only the best, remembering to haggle politely on price. When you are ready to take your fabric to a tailor it usually pays to find someone who will not make it in a rush, so avoid the 24 hour merchants where possible.

Opening Hours: 06:00-22:00
Location: 01 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An

4. Lotus Jewellery

Lotus is the place to buy superior quality sterling silver jewellery made by owners Phil and Nguyen. Designs are original and very well made with their trade mark lotus flower pendant being a very popular purchase. From elaborate and striking, to discreet and delicate, there are rings, necklace, broaches, bracelets and more to suit any taste. Service here is also second-to-none and prices are very fair.

Opening Hours: 08:00-22:00
Location: 53, Le Loi Street

5. Yaly Fashion

Yaly is rapidly gaining a reputation as the tailor to go to for quality and cutting-edge fashion tailoring. Prices here are higher than elsewhere but the finish and fitting is superb. Yaly can copy pretty much any catwalk or designer outfit in about three to four days. Bring some photos with you and have your dream couture outfit created just for you. There are a couple of branches across Hoi An plus a larger department store style outlet.

Opening Hours: 07:00-20:30
Location: 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu

V. NHA TRANG SHOPPING

image (1)Nha Trang may not have the sleek designer shops of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but there is still plenty of opportunity to shop in a much more laid-back atmosphere than in the big cities. Try the daily market on Doc Lop Street and the small shops in town for some terrific local artwork. Have some clothes made for you at one of the many tailors in town. Near the port are lots of little shops selling seashell souvenirs.

Outside of established shops and supermarkets always remember to bargain and never pay the asking price.

1. Artful Gallery

Owned by French photographer Thiery Beyne, who has been living and taking pictures of Vietnam for the last 15 years. At the Artful Gallery (there’s also a café attached) you can find all his work, limited editions and original black-and-white prints, of his impression of the country he now calls home.

Address: 20A Nguyen Thien That
Tel: +84 126 376 1020

2. Nha Trang Market 

Centrally located and easy to find, Nha Trang Market is a veritable treasure trove of fresh fruit, vegetables, freshly fish and squid from the sea, raw produce, footwear, textiles and trinkets. There are bargains to be had here but you have to haggle hard to get the prices down.

Don’t ever pay the asking price, even if you think it’s already a snip!

3. Ngoc Bich Gift Shop

This shop specializes in jewelry made from jade. It also stocks a range of fine arts handicrafts including tortoise shells, lobsters, shell curtains amongst others. Small seashells made to look like animals are fun too as are mother-of-pearl pictures of the Vietnamese countryside.

Address: 12 Tran Phu Street
Tel: +84 58 359 0066

4. XQ Nha Trang

More of a craft centre than a souvenir shop, XQ Nha Trang is part of the big venture XQ, which runs similar embroidery and cultural centres in many big cities in Vietnam.
The centre is cleverly designed to look like a traditional village where women in ao dai (Vietnamese dress) produce framed embroideries of fantasy landscapes, flowers and animals of Vietnam, portraits of many important statesmen and celebrities
And of course you can have your portrait embroidered here as well.

Address: 64 Tran Phu
Tel: +84 58 352 6579

VI. HO CHI MINH CITY SHOPPING

image (6)Ho Chi Minh City is a fun place to shop for bargains. Some goods can be unique and fascinating – old propaganda posters, for example; we found one that exhorted people to plant garlic for export.

Clothing includes silks and hand-woven fabrics with a reputation for high quality. Vietnam is also famous for handicrafts including bamboo ware, ceramics and lacquer. There are, too, all the usual holiday souvenirs such as T-shirts and beaded handbags at prices that are hard to beat.

1. Ben Thanh Market
image (8)Situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, bustling Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs.

Here, you’ll find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much

The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day but all the same its well worth a look. When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish and meats.

One of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.

2. An Dong Market (aka Craft Market)

This three-story market (both a retail and wholesale market) is not at all fancy but it has some modern architecture including escalators. Located in District 5 (Chinatown), it is a must for handicrafts enthusiasts. Just go directly to the top floor and spend time hunting for good quality woodwork, lacquer ware, knitwear and various type of Vietnamese crafts. An Dong is also famous for fabrics. Prices are cheaper than other bigger markets, especially those downtown.

Location: conveniently located right by the An Dong Plaza andWindsor Plaza Hotel
Remarks: Best time to go is early in the morning

3. Antique Street

Le Cong Kieu Street, otherwise known as the major antique market of HCMC features many small shops selling antiques and original arts objects (as well as fake and imitation products) within the range of the 100-metre long street. Among the goods found here are vases, ceramics, Buddha images, ivory, Asian-style food carriers, vintage coins and money and old electronics items such as radios, TVs and lamps. Take the camera.

Location: Opposite Ben Thanh Market and not far from the Fine Arts Museum

 

 

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