What to Buy in Hanoi
Silk, handicrafts, ethnic minority products, artwork and pictures, rice paper products, souvenirs, T-shirts, colourful bandanas, wooden carvings, Ao Dais (Vietnam's national dress) and much, much more; shopping in Hanoi is a veritable treasure trove and a riot of colours, tastes, smells and unfamiliar sights.
Have fun and remember to bargain prices down outside of established shopping malls.
There are a good number of these in Hanoi, often dealing in silk creations catering to Hanoi's Beautiful people. However, tourists also buy ao dai's (Vietnamese traditional long dresses) to fit their size. Many young local designers cleverly mix Vietnamese and western styles which make the Vietnamese fashion industry even more attractive.
A couple of good designer boutiques are: Khai Silk, 96 Pho Hang Gai Tel: +844 825 4237; La Boutique and the Silk 6 Pho Nha Tho. Tel: +844 928 5368.
Ethnic Minority Products
Vietnam has more ethnic minority groups (see Hanoi Museum of Ethnology) than any other Asian country (about 54). Most of them hail from mountain villages in the north.
Each has their own style and colours of clothing, with distinctive embroidery and weaving patterns.
With the surge of tourism, many of their handicrafts and clothes are now sold in craft shops, especially in Hanoi.
If there's one thing Hanoi has no shortage of it is art galleries and most are conveniently located in the old quarter. Young hopeful artists make full use of Hanoi's many private art galleries – most situated on Pho Trang Tien, between Hoan Kiem Lake and the Hanoi Opera House.
Typically the galleries are open until 21:00 and bargaining is expected.
Hanoi's ethnic greetings cards, watercolor and folk paintings, bamboo-bound notebooks and vogue table lamps are all made with 'Do' paper (rice paper) made from the bark of the Do Tree.
Rice paper cards with embroidered squares cost around $2, bamboo bound notebooks $1.50 and hemp covered notebooks, from $2. Shops along Hang Gai and Hang Bac Street sell rice-paper products.
Hang Gai, or Silk Street, is the best place to shop for silk in Hanoi. Located on the edge of the Old Quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake, Hang Gai consists of two or three blocks of small shops that all specialize in silk and embroidery. The merchandise at the various stores is similar but the prices, selection and service vary.
Souvenirs in Hanoi
T-shirts, bandanas, wall hangings, tribal handicrafts and weavings – they're all to be had downtown Hanoi old quarter.
You'll have to be willing to use your bargaining skills in most of these shops and stalls to get prices down.
Air-conditioned Hanoi Moment (101 Hang Gai Street) comes highly recommended above the sometimes grimy street markets.
There are so many natural woods that this results in a broad range of handicraft products in Hanoi. These are transformed into carvings, statuettes, chopsticks and boxes.
Look out too for water puppet figurines, hand-carved for centuries in traditional artisan villages. All these are available in countless souvenir shops in the Old Quarter.