A good shopping session in Vietnam might start off with clothing, especially tailored suits and dresses made from quality fabrics including silk. Many women tourists also buy ao dai to fit their size.
These are the traditional Vietnamese long blouse and pants made in light, floaty, material, perfect for warm weather.
Many young local fashion designers have learned to to take inspiration from both Vietnamese and Western styles, making their designs more attractive.
What to Buy
Traditional conical Vietnamese hats can be found everywhere, as well as such unique gifts as slippers, shoes, and handbags made from traditional materials like silk and bamboo. For those who love handicrafts, it is easy to find beautiful items such as lacquer ware, vases, trays, rosewood boxes, wood-block prints, oil or watercolor paintings, blinds made from bamboo, reed mats, carpets, ceramics and leather work. For more valuable items such as art, antiques and jewelry, you should know that some of these are subject to regulations governing the export of antiques. Ask the dealer about this.
Also, when buying really expensive items, get an expert to certify whether the item you plan to buy is a genuine antique or an imitation; copy “antiques” are not uncommon in the Vietnamese market. As for jewellery, although Vietnam is rich in gemstones, this does not mean they are cheap, so be suspicious of “special” deals. It is wise to shop for such items only at highly recommended outlets – the last thing you need is to pay large sums for coloured glass.
How to Buy
Experienced visitors to Vietnam recommend always driving a hard bargain when shopping in this country. Hard does not mean aggressive, however. The trick is to bargain with a smile and to be polite – this way, you will probably get what you want at a price with which you and the dealer are both happy. If you have time to spare, it is always wise to compare products and prices; don’t just buy the first item you see in the first shop.
Many people will also tell you that buying from street vendors is cheaper than buying in malls or markets, but this is not always the case, so shop around. It is better to take your time and enjoy searching for good Vietnamese souvenirs and gifts for your family and friends.