Discover a cultural concoction of manic markets, specialist streets, designer boutiques and cycling vendors. In any Vietnamese market, you’ll come across everything from tribal textiles to shoes, coffee to crafts, paintings to specialty foods.
Gentle haggling is part of the fun. Take a piece of the experience home in these traditional gifts.
#1 – VIETNAMESE COFFEE
Vietnam is the world’s largest exporter of Robusta coffee and they sure know how to make the most of it. You may never forget the flavor of the best coffee in the world during your trip : Cà phê đá (black coffee), cà phê sua đá (coffee with sweet milk), cà phê sữa chua (yoghurt coffee), cà phê trứng (egg coffee)… the delectable list of caffeinated beverages just goes on and on. The way to make this coffee is so special: you can pick up a single cup filter ( phin ca phe) and a bag of local coffee for just under 10$.
#5 – PROPAGANDA POSTERS
Propaganda posters & prints are everywhere in Vietnam, Plaster your walls with bold graphic memories of Vietnam’s political ideology and patriotic nationalist past. You can pick up a colourful piece of history for as little as $7.
WHERE TO BUY
You can buy in any souvenir store in the Hanoi Old Quarter.
#6 – CHOPSTICKS
When you return home from your Vietnamese adventures, a set of chopsticks will probably be the cheapest, yet most iconic reminder of all those delicious, piping hot bowls of phở and bún chả you ate on your journey. Starting at $1 per pair.
#7 – TRADITIONAL DÓ PAPER
Dó paper is handmade paper produced from the bark of the Rhamnoneuron Balansae tree. Traditionally, Vietnamese Đông Hồ paintings depicting ages-old folklore were printed on sheet of dó. This charming artistic process truly encapsulates Vietnam’s history, imagination and craftsmanship. Prices vary depending on the print.
BEST GIFTS FOR: Children and female friends or family members
PRICES: From 35,000 VND ($1.50) to 45,000 VND ($2) per item
PORTABLE LEVEL: Easy to manage
WHERE TO BUY
- Craft Link at 43 & 51 Van Mieu, Dong Da, Ha Noi, Vietnam
- Souvenir shops on Hang Gai and Hang Bac, Old Quarter, Ha Noi
#8- CONICAL HATS
Conical hats are the most recognisable and classic symbol of the Vietnamese silhouette. The handwoven, palm leaf hat is rich with history, cultural sentiment and designed to protect people from the rain and sun. These are worn by people of both sexes and all ages although you’ll see it is most favoured by those prone to working outside in markets, rice paddies and on the water.
Each among more than 20 ethnic minority groups living in the northern mountain villages of Vietnam has their own distinct culture, which can be recognised through their weaving patterns and clothing styles.
The products made by those people like scarves, bags, clothing items, textiles, paintings, woodworks, and ceramics are impressive and culture-rich. You can easily find those during your trip to Sapa or other destinations in the northwest of Vietnam.
BEST GIFTS FOR: Someone who is into exotic cultures
PRICE: Fabrics typically start from $15.
#10 – VIETNAMESE HERBS & SPICES
Vietnamese herbs and spices are the perfect gift for all those foodies back home. Recognised as the foundation of all the culinary sensations consumed around the country, Vietnamese cuisine is praised around the world for its brilliant balance of fresh flavours, mouthwatering smells and tantalising textures. Nearly every destination from the Mekong Delta to Sapa offers regional cooking classes at varying levels of difficulty, so why not take your channel your inner masterchef and take a taste of Vietnam home with you? Sachets of herbs start at $3.
#11 – AO DAI
The áo dài is a national symbol of traditional Vietnamese beauty, femininity and sophistication, especially in Hanoi. The elegant tunic consists of long sleeves, stand collar and side seam slits up to the waist and is usually worn with palazzo-style pants. Vietnamese women can be seen wearing áo dàis on a daily basis in Hanoi, but it is most popular at weddings and around Tet holiday (Vietnamese New Year). The dress shirt and pants combo start at $25 per set.
#12 – LACQUERWARE
Lacquerware in Vietnam originated from the Hanoi College of Fine Arts under the French occupation in the 1930s. The time-consuming skill is a technique that seals paintings, inlays, engravings and gold leaf designs under layer after layer of tree sap. Goods variously priced.
Bamboo bowls, baskets and bathmats are some of the products popular with both locals and tourists. This versatile material can be handcrafted into a multitude of traditional and modern designs at prices suitable for every budget.
VIETNAM SHOPPING TIPS
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.