Shopping tips

Guide to Convenience Stores in Ho Chi Minh City
Unlike many Western countries where numerous convenience stores are set up on almost every street corner, and most in a standardized form, the business of convenience store has by and large been an informal activity. Not until recently are more and more convenience chains springing up in Ho Chi Minh City, the economic center of Vietnam.
Its appearance aim to satisfy a customer market segment who are in need of  grocery late at night or early in the morning. The traditional retail chains such as supermarket or market are still playing its major role in the shopping habit of Vietnamese.
Nonetheless, convenience stores are essential and act as an emergency-aid for their urgent needs. Price of goods in these stores is a little bit higher than the market but still affordable.
Since 2006, there are several chains of convenience stores in Vietnam, mostly seen in Ho Chi Minh City. The 3 most popular ones are Shop & Go, Circle K and Family Mart.

Shop & Go:



Shop & Go was first established in 2005 at 74A1 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1. Until now, it has expanded up to 70 stores nationwide. It offers a wide range of products: alcoholic beverages,confectionery, food, groceries, newspaper, etc. Shop & Go also has other service: phone cards and ATM. There are over 2000 products in each Shop & Go store, both local and imported products. Therefore, if one is seeking some foreign products, they may find Shop & Go suitable.
List of some Shop & Go stores in Ho Chi Minh City:
* 74A1 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1.
* 254 Nguyen Cong Tru Street, District 1.
* 152B Tran Hung Dao Street, District 1.
* 161 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, District 1
* 194 Bui Vien Street, District 1.
More information about other stores can be found at: http://www.shopngo.com.vn

Circle K



The American franchised convenient store Circle K appeared in Vietnam in mid 2009 by GR International. Besides Vietnam, Circle K has been in China, Hongkong, Japan, Indonesia for a long time. Realizing the potential of the retailing market in a bustling economy in Vietnam, GR International aims to offer customer a new way of shopping beside the traditional way of going to the market or supermarket.
They offer wide range of products from snacks, tobacco, hair care products, stationery, to fast food. Some American products can be found at Circle K.
List of some Circle K stores in Ho Chi Minh City:
* 44 Lê Lai, District 1
* 95 Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1
* 139 Bùi Viện, District 1
* 15B1 Lê Thánh Tôn, District 1
* 251 Đề Thám, Pham Ngu Lao, District 1

Family Mart



Family Mart, a franchise convenient store business from Japan, started its operation in Vietnam in Decmeber, 2009. After 2 years, Family Mart has increased its number of store to 18 which is still too small in comparison with the giant Shop & Go (70 stores). However, with its Japanese-based , Family Mart has it competitive advantages. People love Family Mart because of its oriental taste of food and a variety of “hot” dishes for meals, the common cultural point of Asian countries. Hygiene and nutrition are two strengths of food offered in Family Mart. Rice Ball and Banh Bao can also be found here. Beside, train tickets, movie tickets and ATMs are available.
List of some Family Mart stores in Ho Chi Minh City:
* 69 Nguyen Khac Nhu Street, Co Giang Ward, District 1
* 38/1 Bis Tran Khac Chan Street, Tan Dinh Ward, District 1
* 56 Pho Duc Chinh Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1
* 494 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ward 4, Tan Binh District 1
More information about other stores can be found at Family Mart website.
Hanoi What to Buy?
You are in Hanoi for the first time and being allured by its diverse range of goods that you don’t know which ones are the essential you should buy? This article is going to make the complicated question become piece a cake!
If you think that Ho Chi Minh City is the only shopping heaven, think again. Hanoi has its unique charm when it comes to buying stuff - and by stuff - we mean strange unique things that cannot be found anywhere else. Below is a list of what we think visitors can take home with them, as a small piece of Hanoi.

Art work and print

Walking along Hanoi’s Old Quarter ones should notice an abundant number of art shops selling paintings and pastel pieces. If you want to keep memory or want some evidence about your trip to Hanoi, don’t hesitate to walk in and pick up one of Vietnamese propaganda posters or original artwork at a surprisingly low price varying between $2 and $30. If you are an art-holic who never satisfy with cheap artworks, upscale galleries around Hanoi are always open to you for spending several hundreds to thousands of your dollars.



Dried fruits

It would be a big mistake if tourists fail to taste dried spiced beef sold on Hang Giay Street and dried sweetened fruits or vegetables (“Ô Mai” and “Mứt”) available on Hang Duong Street. Also, Hanoi is the only place you can see such delicious and authentic “Ô Mai” in Vietnam. This type of snack is very rich in term of species which ones may spend up to million and weeks to taste them all.

Wooden Puppet

If tourists have had chance to watch a show of water puppet, ones should have been mesmerized by special wooden puppet floating and acting vividly like real actors under the skillful hand of water puppet artist. If it is ones’ wish to take one of those puppets to bring home, don’t ever think of stealing one because there are many souvenir shops around the theater area selling reproductions of those puppets. Paying a price starting from $10, ones would possess a piece of sophisticated handmade wooden buffalo, a hero on horseback, cute dancing girls or a mighty dragon.



T-shirt and Silk products

Hanoi and its foods make you fall in love with this country so much and the only thing you want is shouting loudly “I love Vietnam”? You don’t need to compete with all kind of transportation running on streets to contribute more noise to this peaceful city by that way because souvenir shops on Dinh Liet or Hang Gai Street are always available to you with their lavish collections of T-shirt printed with cute slogan like “I Love Hanoi”; “I Love Vietnam” or “I Love Pho” – with picture of hot steaming bow of Pho on; and also in many sizes and colors. Also, on the same streets, ones are advised to buy one of silk products like scarf, tie or clothe; or brocade like bags; hats and accessories.

Main Shopping Areas in Hanoi
1. Hoan Kiem Lake and Old Quarter area: Popular and Fun

When travelers ask local people or tour guides where they can find the most various types of traditional Vietnamese gifts to purchase as souvenirs, most of them will receive “Hoan Kiem Lake” and “The Old Quarter” as the answer. The reason is that this is the most exciting tourist area in Hanoi where attracts a huge number of foreigner tourists to visits every day, so there are numerous souvenir and present shops located in this area.
International travelers are easily caught wandering around this area all day and night to visit and explore the beauty of Hoan Kiem Lake and the ancient houses in the Old Quarter, and also to purchase some souvenirs to bring home as a memory of this charming city.

Especially in the evening when some popular shopping streets in this area like Hang Ngang and Hang Dao turn to walking streets, more foreigners come to those crowded and busy streets to merge with local people lines and enjoy the amazingly exciting atmosphere of these places.



Beside Hang Ngang and Hang Dao Streets, Bao Khanh, Hang Gai, Luong Van Can or Hang Can are also favorite locations for buying souvenirs. It can be ensured that souvenirs and gifts in this area are not only greatly diverse in types with hundred kinds of traditional Vietnamese items but also ingenious as they are mostly handicraft products made by skillful hands of experienced artists in famous vocational villages in Hanoi.

However, foreigners purchase items in this area might have to endure significantly more expensive price than local people. That is the result of high rental cost of those shops in central position of the city, and also perspective of local vendors that international travelers always have cash Be prepared to bargain!

What to buy:

Ly Quoc Su Street: Unique T-shirts with "I love Uncle Ho" and the like
Gia Ngu Street: Quality underwears at reasonable price
Bao Khanh Street: CDs and DVDs on latest TV shows at a reasonable price
Luong Van Can Street: kids' toys and other decorative items.
Read Our Guide to 5 cannot missed streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter for more information.

2. Ba Trieu Street : Local Frenzy

Ba Tieu Street is a long road that begins at Hoan Kiem Lake area and leads to Dai Co Viet Street. If there is a title to describe this road, this should be only “Street of shopping”, especially luxurious shopping. This road itself act as a market of various shops, restaurants and other service destinations that serve all customers in any range and class, but deluxe products seems to be more dominant and diverse in this street.

Along the 2.5 km length of this road, numerous luxurious shops are located densely on both sides with different types of products and services, including motorbike, clothes and accessories, restaurant, phones and entertainment devices. Beside those high class shops which are pretty expensive, Ba Trieu Street also has a wide range of shops for middle class consumers with affordable price and acceptable quality. The biggest and most remarkable midrange place at this street is Vinatex Fashion Center, where exhibits and sells clothes and accessories made by domestic producers with competitive price to middle class customers.



However, the paradise of superior shopping is situated at the other end of the road, where Vincom Tower is located. This commercial center is the complex of deluxe shopping malls and luxurious services which predominantly serve propertied people are has bigger purse than normal one. This place gathers almost reputable and famous domestic and international brands in Vietnam in any industry, from clothes, shoes to electronic devices. Consumers come to this commercial center will experience truly top class services and shops which might be only found in Vincom Tower.

In order to best enjoy your shopping experience on Ba Trieu street, read our Tips on Buying Clothing in Vietnam.

3. West Lake: New and Unique

West Lake, or also called Ho Tay in Vietnamese, is the biggest lake in Hanoi and also in the second position on list of the most fascinating lakes in this beautiful city. This area is also the most popular living residence for expats and foreigners in Vietnam with a considerable number of non-Vietnamese residents in the region. The massive expansion in number of expats living in West Lake leads to the increase in demand of special goods for this kind of residents, especially convenient products such as foods, beverage and clothes, with a new green market emerging and attracting many local attentions.



Therefore, various home shops which provide such kinds of goods have been established to satisfy the requirement of foreigners here. Those shops offer wide range of international products which cannot be easily obtained in Hanoi. Such food items as turkey for thanksgiving, Kraft Dinner, Kitkat Bar and Twinning's Earl Grey Tea are available for purchase here. Health products such as whole grain bread and brown rice are sold here as well.

One can find those shops along streets around the West Lake such as Xuan Dieu, Au Co, Yen Phu or To Ngoc Van. Price at those places is slightly more expensive than other normal products or when buying in foreigner countries, due to the tax rate, but still acceptable and affordable to expats living here.
Shopping Tips for Buying Clothes in Vietnam
Are you going to Vietnam in order to buy clothes with popular world famous brand names?

Certainly not (recommended)!

Trendy or brand name clothes are often sold at an outrageous price, even for some with the tag "made in Vietnam" on it. Imagine the import tax + Vietnam sale tax + the supreme rental cost in Vietnam added all together. So what advice there is for those hunting for some good new pants or tees?

In Vietnam, clothes are sold in three main areas, including shopping centers, local markets, and small shops along streets. If you have nothing to worry about your purse and care much about the quality of your clothes, it is advisable to orient towards shopping malls, nowhere else.

Shopping malls are located mostly in big cities in Vietnam, namely Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hai Phong, Danang and the likes. In shopping malls, apart from high-end clothes, you still have a chance to grasp clothes of your taste with reasonable prices and of good quality, which are of Vietnamese popular domestic brands such as Blue Exchange, N&M, Canifa and Ninomaxx. Nem is a Vietnamese brand but its price is as costly as other international brands (expect $70 for a decent dress). Prices in shopping malls are fixed, thus your obsession with bargaining would be completely eliminated.

To save your money, it is suggested to go to local markets and make full use of your smile and bargaining tips to get the best deal. Almost all clothes items sold at local markets are made in China with low quality. Moreover, almost all shops in local markets have no place for you to try on clothes, so it could be quite inconvenient to find your best suit. Yet, sometimes, luckily, you could catch clothes of acceptable quality and in trendy designs. Just keep in mind that you have rights to bargain and you should not miss the chance to do that.

Saigon Square in Ho Chi Minh City and Nga Tu So Market in Hanoi are favorite local markets for shop lovers. Yet, as foreigners, you had better to avoid going to Nga Tu So Market because only local shopping experts could survive with bargains in this market.

If you are not fond of local markets, its ambience as well as its inconvenience, clothing shops scattering on streets could meet your demands. Shops with Made in Vietnam signboards would be your ideal choice as their clothes are of quite good materials, in elegant designs and at reasonable prices. Better still, they have your size as almost all of their products are made for exporting.

Below are some addresses of some authentic Made in Vietnam shops in Hanoi: 58 Ba Trieu, 7A Cha Ca, 20 Hang Thung, 56 Quan Thanh, 193 Giang Vo, 65 Tran Nhan Tong, 266 Tay Son, 162 Ton Duc Thang, 89 Cau Giay, 275 Bach Mai, M2 55C Ly Thuong Kiet…

Shops of Vietnamese names or with English names that sound funny such as” Boys”, “Vietnamese Name+ Mode”, “Vietnamese name+ Fashion” and the likes often display and sell clothes made in China, and the quality as well as the price are also “better” than those sold at local markets.

Yet, in some shops, despite of their showy façade, their clothes are no more than a collection of clothes sold at local markets. Vietnamese popular domestic bands also have their own stores laid on crowded streets.
Ho Chi Minh City- What To Buy
Ho Chi Minh City – What to buy ? This article points out some insiders' recommendations for visitors who are at a loss for ideas of what to bring home: souvenirs, gifts and everything in between.

1. Handicrafts

Handicrafts are popular gifts readily available in Ho Chi Minh City as well as in Vietnam. There are many different kinds of handicrafts such as embroidery, lacquer ware, vases, trays, rosewood boxes, wood-block prints, oil or watercolor paintings, blinds made from bamboo, reed mats, carpets, ceramics and leather work. You can easily get one in Ho Chi Minh City.

These you-name-its are truly works of arts. They are made by the skillful hands of the Vietnamese artists. The patterns are usually about Vietnamese people’s life so it is attractive to foreign people who are always curious about the life of an agricultural country. One way is visiting the handicraft shops in Ho Chi Minh City. There are many of them which are usually located in the center of the city (District 1 area). And there are some shops that are specialized in selling one kind of handicrafts only. Visiting these shops, you can find out more beautiful handicrafts with nice details that are skillfully and carefully designed. Just notice that the prices in these shops are usually higher.

Approximate costs: $4-8 for a quality silk scarf; $3 for reed mats, $2 for rosewood boxes.

2. Souvenirs

There are many different souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh City for you to choose from. They include magnets, statues, chopsticks and many more. Magnet usually has many different shapes. It can be a kind of fruit in Ho Chi Minh City like mangoes, coconuts, jack fruit or the dragon fruit. It can also be a shape of traditional man and woman in Vietnam in ao dai, Vietnamese traditional costumes. So are the statues. The statues usually are Vietnamese man and woman in ao dai. They have many different colors and different sizes. They are usually sold in pair or as a collection of 4 or more statues.



Chopsticks are also a popular souvenir. They are special because of the material they are made of - which is usually special wood in Vietnam. These souvenirs are easily found in Ho Chi Minh City. You can buy one from the street vendors along the boulevards in the city center. The souvenirs sold here are at affordable prices but you can negotiate to get cheaper prices. These souvenirs can also be found in Ben Thanh Market where you need to be more thoughtful about the price so as to avoid being ripped off.

Approximate costs: $3 for a set of chopstick; 50 cents for a magnet.

3. Vietnam's Traditional Dresses

If you visit Vietnam, you certainly can’t miss Vietnamese traditional dress called “ao dai". Ao dai is famous for its unique design which is said to make the woman’s body look more beautiful and attractive. You can buy ao dai in many tailor shops in Ho Chi Minh City. Visiting a tailor shop, you can choose the type of material you like with your favorite color and beautiful patterns. Then the tailor will jot down the measurements of your body and make you an “ao dai” as your wish. The waiting time is not very long. In some places, you just need to wait 3 – 4 hours to get a pretty one with high quality.



Another place for you to see more diverse patterns and materials is Ben Thanh Market where you have a wide ion for beautiful materials to make your ao dai more special and unique.

Approximate costs: $35 - 100 per outfit, depending on where you have it made

4. Sand Paintings

Sand paintings is one of the most special gifts in Vietnam. The artist use sands to pour in a cup to make beautiful pictures. These stuffs need an extremely focus and skillful hands to paint the picture. You will be very impressed with every work of this art and a huge admire for those artists. So are the receivers of your gifts.



The pictures made of sand are usually about Vietnamese lives. It can be a house in a country side with coconut trees, the rivers, the fields with cows and buffaloes. It could be a day of working on a field of the farmers or pictures of beautiful girls dressed in white ao dai which gives you the feeling of peaceful and cute. There are many different pictures on these cups.

Other pictures are about flowers, portraits, icons or scenery. You can buy one picture from the shop or you can choose your favorite picture from the catalogue, order it at the store and wait for a few days to receive it. Sand pictures are usually sold in specific shops with its famous brand names such as Y Lan sand pictures or Van Thien Sa sand pictures. The prices are affordable too so you can buy a beautiful, unique souvenir from Ho Chi Minh City.

Approximate costs: $5 - 15

5. Dried Food

Another thing that can be bought home with you is dried food. There are many different kinds of dried food from the salty, spicy ones to the sweet ones. The most popular ones in Ho Chi Minh City is probably dried squid, dried beef and many different kinds of dried fruit such as jack fruit, coconut or banana. Note, however that, your home country may not allow animal-related products upon your return.

There are many different brand names for these foods. You can come across many of them when you are in a supermarket or market. Most of them are good but to pick out the best one, you can get advices from the shop owners. Another place you can get delicious snacks or food to munch is Ben Thanh Market. Different from what is sold in supermarket, dried food is often sold in bulk and not pre-packed. You can buy in grams and the sellers will measure and pack all later.

This is a good idea for a unique gift because it brings you the chance to enjoy the taste of Vietnamese food. It is something that is particularly special about Vietnam. Who knows, you might miss it when you’re coming back to your home country.

Approximate costs: $3 for a big size dried food packs.
Shoes Making in Hoi An
You are anxious about having your own handmade shoes with the reasonable price while walking around, contemplating ancient architecture and enjoying the most mouth-watering cuisines. Hoi An is welcoming you!

Wait a minute.

What are you worrying about? Where you could get the most quality handmade items, where you are going to be treated like a VIP and where you are not fooled by unscrupulous shop owners are questions well worth being on your top list.

In Hoi An, shoes shops catch your eyes on every corner. They provide you with a massive catalogue and you would certainly feel confused. You are free to pick whatever style you want as a large number of wonderful copies of expensive designer shoes are available. Then, you are able to choose every aspect of your shoes, ranging from the color of the leather to the type of buckle and sole.

An imprint of your feet, after that, would be taken to make sure that your shoes will fit you well. If your feet could not fit in any pair of mass produced shoes, these shoes shops would be ideal destinations for you. However, beware of the fact as pairs of shoes in Hoi An only cost you 10 to 40 USD (depending on leather types, designs) compared to 300-400 USD in your own countries, therefore, the design is maybe good but the quality of leather is somewhat acceptable.

Although in Hoi An, you have to wait only 24 hours to have a pair of shoes done, you are supposed to order them in advance to avoid being in a rush, especially when you find your shoes not living up to your expectations and need some modifications. It is advisable to make a bargain in every shop.


Here are some recommended shoes shops.
     
The First Shoes Shop (275 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street)

It is a bit out of the town centre but quite close to The Life resort. The shop assistants speak excellent English and have a keen sense of fashion. Services are excellent as they are obliging with alternation requests although most of the time, customers are happy with their shoes after the first fitting.

Dong Shoes Shop (16 Tran Phu Street)

It looks like a typical shoe shop in Hoi An, nothing more. However, according to some foreign travelers, you would certainly be satisfied with your custom made thongs and boots. Services are quite good

Linh Shoes Shop (16 Tran Phu Street) 

Bargaining is easy and the price is hilariously low while the quality is acceptable.
 
Want more shopping tips for Hoi An? You may want to find out about The 7 Best Tailors of Hoi An!
InViet Travel Co. Ltd
Address: 9 Cau May Street

Description:
InViet Travel is a great travel stores offering a wide range of travel equipments including hiking shoes, sweaters, fleece jackets, toques, back packs, day packs and, interestingly, the obligatory souvenirs. The outdoors of the store is packed with back packs, warm North Face jackets, and Daypacks and the indoor provides you with the wider range of products. The staff here is friendly and often offers a good deal although bargain is highly recommended.
Buying books in Vietnam
Like clothing shops, while some bookstores in Vietnam are scattered along streets and even leave no trace down narrow alleys, other shops are close together on some streets so-called book streets such as Dinh Le Street, Trang Tien Street, Lang Street in Hanoi and Tran Huy Lieu Street in Ho Chi Minh City. Other shops are located in shopping centers and in areas surrounding schools, universities and research institutes.
Interestingly, pavements are the ideal places for unsettled bookshops to display their books spaciously and sell them with highest discount rates, ranging from 30% to 50% off the publisher’s recommended retail price.
In bookstores, you do not have to waste your time bargaining as books are sold at their retail prices and sometimes discounts are available for those who buy in large quantity or for frequent customers only.  Yet, if you want to find English books or books in your languages, it could be harder than you expected.  For normal bookshops, which do not state clearly in their signboards that they sell English-language books or information in their signboards is not in English also, your chance of grasping an English-language book is quite slim, except for books for English study. 

Hanoi

Hanoi used to be regarded as the only capital city in Southeast Asia that could bring nightmares to bookworms as finding an English-language book in Hanoi is as difficult as crossing road in the city. Today, you are able to find your favorite English-language books if you try to spend time checking out one of following bookstores. They offer both new and secondhand books of contemporary fiction and nonfiction. 

Xuhabasa Store, 32 Hai Ba Trung Str., Hanoi
The Bookworm,  44A Chau Long Str., Hanoi
Fahasa Bookstore, 338 Xa Dan Str., Hanoi

Wandering around Dinh Le and Trang Tien Streets, you are more likely to find your desired English-language books than in other streets. Although there are still a few things for English-speaking readers to flip through along those streets, the solid ion of large-format, colorful books on art, design, architecture could be a redeeming feature of bookshops here. Besides, if you are fond of fiction books, those streets are right places for you.
For books, that albeit interesting, were published for a long time or have been on shelves for years, you only have to take about 2-3 $ out of your pocket to become their owners. It is such a bargain, right? Be patient and you could find your good companion on your journeys.
You also could find English-language magazines and newspapers in those streets. If you just want to read something without buying them, it is suggested to go to American Centre, 1 floor, 170 Ngoc Khanh Str., Hanoi to enjoy your time. 

Ho Chi Minh City

There are two largest bookstore chains in Ho Chi Minh City: FAHASA and PNC (Phuong Nam Corp.) In the city center, it is easy to find a FAHASA bookstore. On Le Loi street, within walking distance from Ben Thanh Market, you can see Saigon FAHASA Bookstore on your left.

Nearby Saigon Bookstore is Nguyen Hue FAHASA Bookstore which is on  Nguyen Hue Boulevard. At these bookstores, beside books, you can almost find everything you need, such as: paper clips, pens, notebooks, maps, etc. Price is fixed and labeled, therefore, there’s no need to bargain.
It is rather simple to shop at the bookstore. When entering a bookstore, pick up a basket and collect all you need then proceed to the check out which is often near the door. Most book shops are not equipped with an electronic system with which you can trace down the book you want but the good news is, most stores are easy to navigate and staffs are always ready to help you.

Saigon Bookstore, 60-62 Le Loi Street, District 1
Nguyen Hue Bookstore, 40 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1 
General Shopping Tips
Welcome to Vietnam, the new paradise for shopping. If you look at the surface, you will be disappointed by the large number of mass produced and many times low quality items in just any cities. If you dare to search, you will be caught in a complete surprise: Vietnam has every shopping scene that can match popular names such as SoHo in Manhattan, Kensington Market in Toronto, Chapel Street in Melbourne and Chatuchak in Bangkok. Here are a few tips before you begin your exploration: 
 
Bargaining

Yes, unfortunately, you will have to bargain most of the time to get the price right (see tips on bargaining). Unless you plan to go to shopping mall or supermarket where price is printed on the product. It is not an intimidating task like it seems, and once you will get used to it, you will miss the bargaining scene found in Vietnam and in most of Asia.
 
Sale

Vietnam does not have a sale culture like many other countries. What are on sale are usually products that can no longer be attractive enough or they might have many defects. Here and there in big cities you will catch sight of a local crowd surrounding a sign “Đại Hạ Giá” but don’t bother to join unless you want to sweat or to give your bag to some pickpockets. In shopping malls, there are price marked down but do not expect it to go below 30%. The good news is, most items are affordable even without sale.
 
Have it tailored

You are in Vietnam, and why bother looking for Nike and Louis Vuiton? You can have your clothes, shoes and apparels made to your size and preferred colors and styles at significantly lower costs. What you will have is unique, and it’s time to show off your special taste as well. Hoi An is a great place to start for tailor-made clothing items. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you will have to go out of your way but the quality is worth all the effort. 
 
Price matters

Do not buy things just because it is cheap. There are inexpensive items that will catch your eyes and cost you a dollar. And the next thing you know it is out of order. This mostly applies to garment products in green markets or electronic goods at certain stores in big cities. On the other hand, expensive does not equal top quality, since you might be ripped off or they are just not worth all the currencies. It is good to start with recommended places and you will develop an instinct how shopping works in Vietnam. 
 
Don’t overload

You have only so much space in your luggage. Unless you want to send some home over post, try to avoid heavy and massive items. Many stores offer free shipping service so check for your convenience.  Shopping in Vietnam is a culture, a ritual and a lot of fun. It is rewarding for those who really take it more seriously than just getting some souvenirs off the shelf. Whatever reason you come to Vietnam for, make sure shopping is one of the bullet points in your travel agenda.
Supermarkets and Retailers
RNCOS, a professional industry research firm which specialized in providing analysis and business research reports, has reported in its Analysis of Vietnam's Retail Industry: “Retail market in Vietnam is growing at the remarkable progress, far exceeding many other economies in the world, behind only India and Russia. This area received a lot of investment from abroad, and the market is firmly established with the opening of many trading centers and larger stores.”

The retail market in Vietnam can be roughly divided into six types of modern distribution with specific characteristics, including hypermarkets, supermarkets, commercial centers, shopping centers, convenience stores and specialty supermarkets.

Hypermarket is expansive retail facility which encompasses a large number of types of products - both groceries and non-groceries items. Examples of hypermarkets are Loblaw and Superstore (Canada), Fred Meyer, Meijer and Super Kmart (US), Asda and Tesco (UK), Carrefour and NTUC Fairprice (Singapore), to name a few.

In Vietnam, Big C is the only brand name of hypermarkets. Metro Cash & Carry stores give the impression of hypermarkets but are not. Metro’s clients are mostly industry and wholesalers while hypermarkets’ are final customers. The bad news for fans of hypermarkets is that Big C is present only in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang, Vinh, Nam Dinh and Vinh Phuc. Because of its size, Big C stores are usually located on the outskirt of the city. As fantastic as its collection of goods and the attached low price, most Big C stores are usually cramped so if you plan to shop there, try to void evenings and weekends.

Supermarket, whose retail price is a bit higher compared with a hypermarket, is better fitted for weekly shopper. Some of the most famous supermarket names in Vietnam are: Intimex, Co.opmart, Fivimart and Citimart. Supermarkets in Vietnam offer more or less similar goods and services. Some offer frequent buyer card, with which you earn points to get deduction on the following purchase.

Department stores sell luxurious items such as brand-name clothes, shoes and high class electronic devices. Parkson and Diamond Plaza are two most popular department stores in HCM City, while in Hanoi City there are Vincom, Trang Tien Plaza, Grand Plaza, the Manor and the most recent one- Parkson.

Shopping malls are relatively new concept in Vietnam, which may include a hypermarket, a supermarket, a department store, a cinema and special stores. Lotte Mart in HCMC’s District 7 can be qualified as a shopping mall, and there’s also one Lotte Mart being built in Hanoi. Convenience stores serve daily demand for sundry items, and can be found in all streets. You can easily get water bottle or other petty items such as toilet paper, shampoo, tissue and you-name-it.

Convenience stores in Vietnam are competing with roadside stalls and traditional markets; Co.opFood stores, under the Saigon Co.op store system, G7 Mart and Shop & Go can be listed as convenience stores. However, it is the no-name convenience stores that still make up the majority of the Vietnamese retail market. (read more about Convenience Stores)
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