Shopping in Vietnam: A Guide to Finding Unique Souvenirs and Handicrafts

Shopping in Vietnam: A Guide to Finding Unique Souvenirs and Handicrafts

Vietnam, a Southeast Asian gem, is renowned for its rich culture, diverse landscapes, and vibrant street markets. Shopping in Vietnam is an adventure in itself, offering travelers the opportunity to uncover unique souvenirs and handicrafts that reflect the country’s intricate cultural heritage. Whether you’re wandering through bustling urban markets or exploring tranquil rural villages, Vietnam promises a delightful shopping experience filled with handmade treasures. In this guide, we’ll explore the best places to shop, the types of unique items to look out for, and some useful tips to enhance your shopping experience.

Best Places to Shop in Vietnam


Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a bustling city that blends tradition and modernity. The Old Quarter, with its narrow streets and vibrant atmosphere, is a must-visit for any shopper. Here, you can find an array of handicrafts, including ceramics, silk products, and traditional Vietnamese paintings.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is a dynamic metropolis with numerous shopping options. The Ben Thanh Market is one of the most famous markets in the city, offering everything from clothing and accessories to souvenirs and handicrafts. For a more upscale shopping experience, visit the Saigon Square Shopping Center or Vincom Center for a mix of local and international brands.

Hoi An

Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its well-preserved architecture and tailor-made clothing. The Hoi An Central Market is a treasure trove of local crafts, including lanterns, leather goods, and custom-made clothing. The town’s numerous tailor shops are renowned for their high-quality, bespoke garments.


Sapa, located in the northern highlands, is known for its ethnic minority communities and stunning landscapes. The Sapa Market is a great place to find handwoven textiles, traditional clothing, and intricate silver jewelry made by the Hmong and Red Dao tribes.


Hue, the former imperial capital, is steeped in history and culture. The Dong Ba Market is a bustling hub where you can find traditional Vietnamese hats, conical hats (non la), and local delicacies. Hue is also known for its lacquerware and intricately carved wooden items.

Unique Souvenirs and Handicrafts

Vietnamese Silk

Vietnamese silk is renowned for its quality and craftsmanship. Silk scarves, ties, and clothing are popular souvenirs. Visit the Van Phuc Silk Village near Hanoi for an authentic experience and a wide selection of silk products.


Lacquerware is a traditional Vietnamese craft that involves applying multiple layers of lacquer to wooden items. These items are often adorned with intricate designs and patterns. You can find lacquerware products such as trays, bowls, and vases in markets and specialty shops across the country.

Ao Dai

The Ao Dai is the traditional Vietnamese dress, characterized by its long tunic and fitted pants. While purchasing a ready-made Ao Dai is possible, having one custom-made in Hoi An ensures a perfect fit and a unique keepsake.

Conical Hats (Non La)

The conical hat, or non la, is an iconic symbol of Vietnam. These hats are made from palm leaves and are both practical and decorative. They make for a lightweight and memorable souvenir.

Handwoven Textiles

The ethnic minority communities in Vietnam’s northern regions produce stunning handwoven textiles. These vibrant fabrics are used to make clothing, bags, and home decor items. Visit Sapa or Bac Ha Markets to find authentic handwoven goods.

Pottery and Ceramics

Vietnam has a long tradition of pottery and ceramics. Bat Trang Village near Hanoi is famous for its high-quality ceramic products, including vases, tea sets, and decorative items. These pieces often feature traditional motifs and contemporary designs.

Wooden Carvings

Intricately carved wooden items are a testament to Vietnam’s skilled artisans. You can find everything from small figurines to large furniture pieces adorned with detailed carvings. Hue and Hoi An are particularly known for their wooden handicrafts.

Tips for Shopping in Vietnam

1. Bargain Wisely: Bargaining is a common practice in Vietnamese markets. Start by offering about 50-70% of the quoted price and negotiate from there. Be polite and respectful during the process.

2. Check Quality: Ensure that the items you are purchasing are of good quality. Examine the craftsmanship, materials, and finishes before making a purchase.

3. Learn Basic Phrases: Learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can enhance your shopping experience. Simple greetings and thank-yous can go a long way in building rapport with sellers.

4. Carry Cash: While credit cards are accepted in larger stores and malls, many markets and small shops prefer cash. Carry enough Vietnamese Dong for your purchases.

5. Pack Lightly: Leave some space in your luggage for the souvenirs and handicrafts you plan to buy. You may also want to invest in a sturdy, extra bag to carry your purchases home.


Q: What is the best time to visit Vietnam for shopping?

A: The best time to visit Vietnam for shopping is during the cooler months from November to April. The weather is more pleasant, and you can comfortably explore outdoor markets and shopping streets.

Q: Are there any items I should avoid buying in Vietnam?

A: Avoid purchasing items made from endangered wildlife or cultural artifacts that may be illegal to export. It’s essential to respect local laws and customs when shopping.

Q: Can I ship my purchases home from Vietnam?

A: Yes, many shops offer shipping services for larger or fragile items. Be sure to inquire about shipping costs and delivery times before making a purchase.

Q: How do I know if an item is authentic?

A: To ensure authenticity, buy from reputable shops or markets known for specific crafts. Asking locals or your tour guide for recommendations can also help you find authentic products.

Q: Are credit cards widely accepted in Vietnam?

A: Credit cards are accepted in larger stores, hotels, and restaurants in major cities. However, small markets and shops may only accept cash, so it’s advisable to carry Vietnamese Dong.

Q: What should I do if I feel I am being overcharged?

A: If you feel you are being overcharged, politely negotiate the price or walk away. In many cases, the seller may call you back and offer a better deal.

Shopping in Vietnam is a rewarding experience that allows you to bring a piece of the country’s rich culture and history back home. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to find unique souvenirs and handicrafts that will remind you of your memorable journey through this captivating country.

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