Shopping in Vietnam



Shopping in Vietnam

Posted By : admin/ 191 0

Until a few decades ago, the most memorable thing about a Vietnamese store was the emptiness of its shelves. Today, the scene has changed dramatically, as shops all across the country are overflowing with a variety of products, including distinctive conical hats, fine silk, designer clothes, colorful lamps, delicate ceramic ware, and elegantly carved bamboo furnishings – all available at affordable rates. Perhaps the most coveted of all goods are the traditional wares, such as exquisitely embroidered textiles, handicrafts, and jewelry made by Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. While upmarket malls are present in major cities, the local markets and the shopping streets and districts of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the best places to shop. However, Hoi An, with its amazing array of lacquerware, apparel, and crafts is the ultimate shopper’s paradise.

Opening Hours

Most city shops open at about 8am and do not close until late in the evening at 8pm or 9pm. The newer malls and department stores in big cities open by 10am and close as late as 10pm. Keep in mind that staff tend to start shutting down an hour before the posted closing time. The traditional markets, such as Ben Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City and Dong Xuan in Hanoi, generally operate from sunrise to sunset. Some of these offer a thriving night market on the street outside as well, which runs until midnight. Virtually all retail operations operate seven days a week. However, during Tet, some shops shut for a few days, while others open later than usual.

How to Pay

Though the Vietnamese dong (VND) is the only legal tender in the country, nobody would refuse a US dollar. In areas that are very popular with visitors, especially the more expen sive districts, most shops prefer to quote prices in dollars rather than dong. The reason being that dollars are more profit able for sellers than the dong because of its fluctua ting exchange rate. Hence, as the buyer, always try and pay in dong as it will be cheaper. Major credit cards are accepted in high-end shops, hotels, and restaurants in big cities and major resort towns. However, in small towns and villages, as well as at local bus stations, markets, street food stalls, and other such places, only cash is accepted.

Rights and Refunds

As a rule, all sales are final. Though some depart ment stores in big cities may offer a return policy, by and large, once money, goods, or any services have changed hands, there is no going back. Some goods, especially electro nic items such as cell phones, do come with a guarantee. But even here, it covers replace ment, not refund.


Unless you are in an upscale  shop, mall, or national book- store chain, the asking price  of goods is not necessarily the final price. Except for food and drink, which have smaller margins, the rate quoted is twice or even more than what the merchant is willing to settle for. As such, be prepared to bargain. Effective negotiation requires three things. First and most importantly is a pleasant attitude, even a sense of humor. Remember that this is not just a commercial transaction, it’s a social encounter. Secondly, be ready to spend some time. You cannot get the price down from US$50 to US$25 easily. A transaction of that magnitude can take up to ten minutes. And lastly, try walking away. At times, this prompts a drastic reduction in price.

Department Stores and Malls

Luxury malls and department stores are present in most big cities. Vincom Shopping Center, in Ho Chi Minh City, is one of the country’s largest retail centers, with international brands and foreign fast-food chains. Another high-end shopping mall is Diamond Plaza, which also boasts a movie theater and bowling alley. Near by is Parkson, a classy, four-story department store, boasting brands such as Nike, Guess, Estée Lauder, and Mont Blanc among others. It also has  a supermarket and several eat- eries. The centrally located  Saigon Square hosts numerous small stores, and offers better prices than even Ben Thanh market. Zen Plaza, with six floors of outlets and cafés, is ideal for anything from clothing to furniture and artifacts. Close by is Saigon Shopping Center, with a supermarket, book store, and numerous toy and electronics stores. In the Cholon district, An Dong Plaza has many stores offering a range of goods, including a wide var iety of Asian items. In Hanoi, Trang Tien Plaza is an international level shopping center, hosting several brands, both foreign and local, while Big C Thang Long supermarket is not just a great place to buy quality foodstuffs. This two-story mall has goods ranging from fresh food to appliances, garments, home decorations, and electronics. However, the biggest of all is the Vincom Mega Mall at Royal City, which boasts an indoor water park and skating rink as well as a bowling alley and cinemas.

Markets and Street Vendors

While modern malls are cropping up in large cities, the traditional markets are still the best places to shop. They are considerably cheaper, and ideal stopping points to absorb the city’s atmosphere. The big gest markets in Ho Chi Minh City are Ben Thanh in District 1 and Binh Tay in Cholon. Both carry an amaz ing selection of products, from clothing and gro ceries to appliances and furnishings. For imported foods,  drinks, person al items, accesso- ries, and much more, the Old  Market is worth a visit. In Hanoi, Dong Xuan Market is a favorite among visitors, and carries a vast array of household goods, as well as clothing, souvenirs, and more. For a great selection of fabrics, visit Hang Da Market. You can also get clothes tailored here. One of the most charming markets in Vietnam is in Hoi An. While the day market teems with clothes, lacquer and ceramic ware, silk, footwear, and handicrafts, the night market is ideal for a fascinating evening stroll. In addition to local markets, the streets are overflowing with shops selling souvenirs, kitchenware, counterfeit goods, and clothes.

Shopping Streets and Districts

All the streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter are named after the products once sold there. For example, Ma (paper) Street offers paper goods, Hon Gai (hemp) Street has rows upon rows of silk shops, Chieu (mats) Street has rush mats and bamboo blinds, and Thiec (tin) Street offers tin and glass items, as well as mirrors. Although the placement of products on these streets is not so strict today, they remain excellent places to browse the wide range of goods at bargain prices. The main shopping area in Ho Chi Minh City is Dong Khoi, with a huge selection of outlets selling clothing, antiques, arts and crafts, and home furnishings.

Counterfeit Goods

Counterfeit goods can be bought on almost any street corner in Vietnam. Articles for sale include Rolex watches, army dog tags, Zippo cigarette light ers with regimental markings, and DVDs, CDs, and video games.

Coffee and Tea

Vietnamese coffee is unique, and comes in a wide selection of flavors, including vanilla, anise, and chocolate. There are three varieties of coffee – Arabica, Robusta, and Weasel. While Arabica is the most expensive and richest, Robusta is cheaper. Weasel is also expensive and is made from coffee cherries eaten and defecated by chon, Vietna mese weasels. Vietnamese tea is a green tea scented with lotus flower. The best place to buy coffee or tea is at markets such as Ben Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City or Dong Xuan in Hanoi. Street ven dors also sell them but overcharge.

Arts and Crafts

Traditional arts and crafts are produced almost everywhere in Vietnam. Exquisitely embroi ­ dered linen, intricately carved artifacts and figurines, colorful silken lanterns, as well as stylized paintings are just some of the specialties available. For fine textiles, espe cially good quality, hand­embroidered silk by French and Japanese artists, visit Chi Vang in Hanoi. Also check out Tan  My for gorgeous, hand- embroidered table cloths,  throws, and quilts. Craft Link is a non­profit outlet with a good range of tribal handicrafts and woven products. An outlet for crafts made by people with disabilities in Hoi An is Reaching Out Arts & Crafts. Dong Khoi district in Ho Chi Minh City is home to many silk mer chants, such as Bao Nghi, which also carries linen and other fabrics. Antiques and hill­tribe handicrafts made by ethnic minorities are avai lable in Hanoi at 54 Traditions, which offers a range of high­end textiles, jewelry and tribal objects including some antiques, while regular handicrafts are available from Hanoi Moment and Craft Window. In Ho Chi Minh  City, Miss Ao Dai offers high- quality souvenirs, while in Hoi  An, Hoi An Arts and Crafts Manufacturing Workshop has skilled craftsmen making pottery, carving wood and embroidering silks, all for sale, and also has daily cultural shows. Great ceramics – tea sets, vases, and bowls – are avai lable at Emem in Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi Gallery is a  good place to buy communist- propaganda art. In Ho Chi Minh  City’s District 1, Tara & Kys Art Gallery carries quality prints and Galerie Quynh showcases contemporary works by leading local and foreign artists. Hoi An Art Gallery in Hoi An is worth visiting, and Hanoi Art Gallery sells works by Vietnamese contemporary artists.


Hoi An is the most popular place to buy clothes in all of Vietnam. Boutiques here can copy any outfit from any inter national fashion maga zine in a few hours, and at one­third of the cost at home. The most stylish outlet, with extremely high quality goods and service, is Yaly Couture. They can also make a range of shoes, mostly women’s. For cloth purchases and simple tailoring, check out the Hoi An Cloth Market. For silk outfits, try Bibi Silk, while Bao Khanh Silk Tailors specialize in custom­made formal wear. You can also visit Thuong Gia for clothes, and Friendly Shoe Shop for shoes. In Hanoi, Khai Silk gets rave reviews, especially for formal attire, while Ha Noi Silk can tailor suits in 24 hours. For an excellent row of silk shops, walk down Hang Gai Street. For larger sizes, check out Things of Substance. In Ho Chi Minh City, H&D Tailors make outfits for men, and women can get an ao dai, a traditional Vietnamese dress, made at Ao Dai Minh Thu. Check out Creations for custom­made outfits.


Furniture is regarded as an art form in Vietnam. Most of what is available is finely wrought hardwood, often inlaid with  mother­of­pearl or richly car- ved. Special orders are gladly  taken, and most shops also arrange to ship your purchases home. In Ho Chi Minh City, Furniture Outlet offers some of the best pieces and prices, while Tien An carries light furniture, specializing in bamboo chairs, cabinets, and grass mats. The Lost Art offers  antique pieces and repro- ductions and Mosaique offers  not only furnishings but items of home decor as well.

Lacquerware and Ceramics

Vietnam is famous for its lacquer- ware and ceramics, such as  decorative boxes, tea sets, vases, bowls, plates, trays, and paintings to name a few. Some lacquer products feature an amazingly delicate inlay of eggshells or mother­of­pearl, while several ceramic pieces bear intricate designs. In Ho Chi Minh City, the note worthy Gaya carries works by renowned desig ner Michele de Alberts. Quang’s Ceramics in Hanoi has a splendid col lection, and Le Duan Street also has some good shops. In Hoi An, there are many such shops selling traditional Vietnamese goods.


0 / 5

Your page rank:

Leave your comment