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Shopping Destinations

Sapa What to buy?
Sapa, the small tourist town of Vietnam’s northwest region, reminds us of a wildly beautiful area where travellers can gain great trekking experience while discovering the rich culture of ethnic minorities groups. The wet markets and souvenir shops here are also the perfect places for ones who are longing to buy local unique gifts.

Brocade



Visiting Sapa market, you can easily get lost in the maze of colorful brocades. It is amazing when knowing that only a one-span piece of brocade can take up to two weeks of sewing. Local girls may spend months just completing one dress, as the clothes represent their skills and extreme patience. Nowadays, in an effort to satisfy the complicated requirements of customers, there are two kinds of brocades available in the market: mass-produced and handmade ones. Mass-produced brocade is brighter with more designs, while the handmade one is darker with more harmonious pattern, containing the high traditional value. Brocade can be made into clothes, dresses, bags, backpacks, purses, scarfs, and even bed coverings.
Another place to get your brocade is to get one when you trek to ethnic villages such as Cat Cat and Ta Phin. Many women offer in-house shopping and you will know for sure you are supporting the less advantaged.

Local fruits



With the much cooler climate than most of other areas in northern Vietnam, Sapa brings tourists a chance to try the special local fruits that can only be found in temperate zone such as peach and pear. Fruits are grown organically in gardens scattering along mountain sides. Sapa’s peach and pear are not larger than a tea cup, covered by a thin layer of white powder, with a sour, sweet and a little bit acrid taste. Fruit are not kept in plastic bag but in bamboo baskets that help avoiding bruised. In addition, tourists can buy local vegetables like chayote and dried mushrooms.
Note that many countries impose a law against carrying foreign fresh fruits and plants home so double check before you pack. These fruits also do not contain preservatives so it is best to be consumed while inland.

Vietnamese medicinal herbs



You can find various kinds of Vietnamese medicinal herbs, both fresh and dried in Sapa market. However, foreign customers are advised to have a local friend or guide in order to choose the right herbs they need at reasonable price. Herbs are sold separately or packed together for treating different diseases. Those herbs can be used for herbal bath and traditional massage as well. In addition, raw honey is also among one of the most favorite products in Sapa. Light weight make these products all perfect to carry home.
Cai Rang Floating Market (Can Tho)
People said that “If one has not visited floating market, he has not visited the south-west of Vietnam”. Literally, floating markets which have been around for a long time make the liveliest part of life in the south-west, the land of rivers, canals and ditches.

For tourists who travel to Can Tho, metropolis of the south-west, it would be regretful if they could not by and purchase something in Cai Rang (6km from Can Tho city), one of the most famous and biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

Colorful market:

From Cai Rang Bridge, the market stretches half kilometre downstream Can Tho River. Hundreds of boats gathering here from the dawn till before noon makes the area extraordinary animated and the water surface colorful with numerous tropical fruits. The large sized anchored boats create meandering lanes for smaller ones to weave through. All create a bustling and joyful atmosphere that can attract any tourist.



Most of the boats here are packed with a lot of farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh district and the nearby areas like vegetables, coconut, banana, watermelon, grapefruit, dragon fruit and so on. Small boats that sell soft drinks, wine and food for breakfast go among the others to serve market-goers and visitors. Other services and products like mending machine, selling gasoline, mobile card, clothes, cosmetic, spicy, etc all are available here, not different from what are sold in common markets on land.



Trading from boats brings excitement to buyers when catching some sample of products that are thrown by sellers from other boats. While shopping on boat, one can also enjoy fresh fruits and see floating house of the locals along the riverside.

Unique advertising tool:

In this bustling floating market, the cries of the sellers seem to be swallowed in the vastness of the river and lost into the noise of boat engines. The disadvantaged condition turns out to facilitate the birth of an unique advertising tool: pole of sample goods.

Every boat has a long upright pole with samples of the goods for sale hung on, so the sellers do not have to cry out what they are selling and buyers can easily see from the distance the goods sold on that boat. Just look up and ones can know exactly which boat selling the products they are seeking for.

Tips:

To catch the liveliest scenery and enjoy the most animated atmosphere of Cai Rang market (often 6 am to 8 am), travelers should stay overnight in Can Tho and come here at the dawn, about 5 a.m.



After enjoying local breakfast and watching the sun rising, one can charter either a motorized boat or a non motorized one to begin a morning shopping in floating market. The area where most of boats for charter are located is along Vo Tanh road. The fee is charged differently based on the kind of chartered boat.
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.
Shopping in Da Nang
When visiting a fabulous tourism city as Da Nang, spending time shopping in Han Market is invaluable. Built from nearly a decade ago, Han Market has become the most crowded market in Da Nang. Due to its location near Han River, farming products as well as seafood can be accessible to be traded. Previously, this market was just for the rich. However, nowadays, most local people and foreigners visit Han market to buy a wide range of products, from fruits to traditional clothes with reasonable price.

Not far from Han Market, Da Nang shopping mall is considered to be the most attractive place in Da Nang. The building is located in the central of the city with two giant complexes where people can purchase fashion items or even food or enjoy relaxing time in entertainment places, for instance bowling clubs and cinemas. Associated with the rapid development in business and infrastructure, numerous well-known supermarkets are in the making in Da Nang, namely Metro, Big C and Intimex.
 
Besides, art crafts and ceramics are sold commonly in souvenir shops, vending streets, and even in hotels. However, people prefer buying in Non Nuoc village, where they can observe the process of making these products. Non Nuoc village is located in Ngu Hanh Son Mountain and famous for its masterpiece products. There are plentiful handicraft gifts in various shapes and full of colors that visitors find it convenient to choose their suitable ones. Undoubtedly, souvenirs from stone are part of Da Nang‘s attraction.
Shopping in Halong Bay
Shopping in Ha Long Bay could be a fantastic experience despite of limited options for visitors. Night market in Bai Chay town should be mentioned firstly. There is a collection of open air stalls that sell enormous types of traditional products including chopsticks, ceramic tea sets and conical hats. Remember to make a bargain as traders often quote prices by 30-50 % more than original ones.

To foreign travelers, it could be a surprise for them when seeing local people selling products on a small boat. Such floating convenience stores can catch your eyes immediately when you are on junk boat tours in Ha Long Bay. Visitors could buy drinks, chewing gums, fruits and vegetables, biscuits and snacks when enjoying the lively life. How fascinating it is!

When traveling to Ha Long bay, you should not miss the chance to visit Ha Long market. Situated at the central of Ha Long city, the market is popular for its fresh and cheap seafood. Especially, you can taste some delicious Vietnamese fast food such as hot squid ball. Mong Cai market is also a worth sightseeing place. Goods sold in the market are mainly from China, ranging from fruits, fabrics, clothes to high-tech products.

Far different from the above markets, Binh Lieu market is located in the highlands of Quang Ninh province. Most of traders there are from ethnic groups called “Tay”, “San Chi”, “Dao” and agricultural products are their main trading goods, for example rice, corn or oils of cinnamon, anise,  especially forest honey.  More interestingly, sellers will not sell their products until purchased prices are exactly what they are expected in advance.
Shopping in Nha Trang
Different from fussily decorated shops in Ha Noi or stores in Ho Chi Minh City, simply designed shops in Nha Trang can give you a more laid-back atmosphere. If you can wake up early, try to visit Nha Trang market. Centrally located and easy to find, Nha Trang market often sells a variety of seafood that has just been caught from the sea. Along with raw products, dried squid is also famous in this market; however, you should make a bargain before buying (read how).

Another attraction is Bambou, a popular T-shirt shop in the heart of Biet Thu Street. Perhaps, the high quality as well as the unique design make these T-shirts outstanding from others. It is also worth checking the local shop called Kim Quang. Created by a local talent painter, Kim Quang is famous for its hand painting on T-shirts and this special gift is definitely a huge surprise to your friends.

If you plan to buy some embroidery products, XQ (65 Tran Phu) can be the best choice. This place looks like a traditional rural village where skillful craftswomen are embroidering countless beautiful pictures. By taking a trip around XQ village, you can enrich the knowledge about both Vietnamese traditional decoration and culture features presented in this unique art.

Your next stop can be Ngoc Bich gift shop (12 Tran Phu) which situated at Tran Phu Street. As can be seen from its name, the shop specializes in selling jewelry made from jade stone. Souvenirs from tortoise shells, lobsters and seashell curtains are also well-known products in this shop. 

If you are interested in fresh fruit, the Dan market probably is the most must-go place. Travelers also love drinking areas nearby the market, where they are served with countless kinds of juice. The experience of shopping in Nha Trang is extremely exciting and you would certainly yearn for another trip to this coastal city.
Shopping in Sapa
As a tourist attraction in the northwest mountains of Vietnam, Sapa is an ideal destination for those who are looking for unique shopping experiences in an area of picturesque hilly nature and rich ethinic cultures.  Strolling around Sapa town’s placid streets, you will soon find some sourvenir shops here and there. Your purpose may be just to have a look to get a feel about that something special of Sapa. But, in no time, you will become captivated by various handicrafts delicately designed in the style of minorities such as silver accessories, animal – modelled wooden sourvenirs or clothes with colourful patterns. They all could make good presents for you to bring home. 

What is more interesting is that you save your time trekking down the hills and discover traditional markets of local  ethnic minorities like Sapa market, Bac Ha market, Coc Ly market. Here you will have a chance to buy souvenirs from the local hilltribes themselves. They trek surprisingly long distances to gather here and sell you their hand – made nice items, most impressive of which are colourful clothes made of local fabrics (tho cam). 
If you set off your trip to Sapa on weekends, Sapa market would provide you a deeper understanding of the local culture and lifestyle. Every Saturday and Sunday, local people, especially the youth, gather in the market to meet and get to know about each other through exciting songs for courting. You will hear flute tune, khen, dan moi which are local musical instruments and enjoy romantic melodies filling the night air. That’s why Sapa market has another meaningful name – Love market.

And if you visit Sapa right a few days before Tet holiday, you will be struck by Sapa’s peach markets. The whole Sapa will be covered by blossoming peach flowers. Choose yourself a peach branch or tree and your Tet in Vietnam will be more fullfilled by Sapa’s natural beauty in your beloved house.
Shopping in Hoi An
Not for nothing was Hoi An acclaimed as World Heritage on 4th December 1999. Wherever you come from, this old town will soon strike you as a true living museum of the once iconic trading port of Vietnam in past centuries, and now, a place of poetic human and natural beauties in great harmony. Then once you leave, the image of Hoi An keeps lingering on your mind with each mossy house you passed by, each smiling Vietnamese you came across, and each delicate souvenir you bring home. To many, Hoi An probably deserves a World Shopping Site if there is such a title.

What remind you of  Hoi An first and foremost will be products skillfully made from silk. They may be clothes, handbags, purses, scarves or home decors like lampshades and wall-hangings. The used kinds of silk are of the finest quality such as Ha Dong silk and Thai silk. For this, Hoi An is referred as Mecca of Vietnam when it comes to silk, just like a key point of the Silk Road as it used to be. 

You also will never forget the unique experience of getting your silk suit tailor – made in Hoi An. There are as many tailor shops here as there are tourists strolling along the streets. Among them, most praised around must be A Dong Silk and Yaly. You may buy silk materials from somewhere else like Cloth Market or Central Market at cheaper prices or just step in these shops and you will be consulted from different kinds of silk to which one suits you most by shopclerks. Just as soft as silk, they speak charming English and welcome you so warm – heartedly. More interestingly, your suit will be well – stitched as fast as you want, even within 24 hours, however sophisticated design you like. After all, this is a buyer’s market which will never let you down. 

Another Hoi An icon is hand – made lanterns. Created with ultimate dexterity, they are a perfect combination between the tough nature of bamboo sticks and the esthetic quality of silk. Their colors and designs are extremely diversified as you can see in Hoi An’s sparkling lantern festival celebrating every Lunar New Year. Together with other local souvenir items like lacquer ware, bonsai plants, paintings; bamboo lanterns convey the meanings of prosperity and happiness.
Shopping in Dalat
Dalat is not just a destination of romance - it is also a haven for specialty shopping such as jams, temperate vegetables and the famous champagne.

Dalat Central Market

Lying at the foot of a hill, Dalat central market is a multi – storey building with a unique architecture. It is linked to Hoa Binh area at the hill top through a bridge from its second level, and to Xuan Huong lake at the bottom by a walkway leading to its first floor. That’s why it’s often told as the meeting point of mountains and waters, of ups and downs. Day by day, it attracts local specialties from all over Dalat to itself. So taking a look around here, you will know what this wonderland is well - known for. 



Right at the front of the market, flowers bloom up in myriads of stores. Here you can immerse yourself in the colors and flagrance of hundreds of series of flowers like orchid, mimosa, gladiolus, chrysanthemum, carnations and hydrangeas. They are sold as either sprigs or bunches, still fresh or dry. Oh! Dalat’s dried flowers are amazing. As fresh and lively as their fresh counterparts, yet more interestingly, their beauty stays unchanged for the whole two or three years. Thus, buying some dried flowers is obviously a wise choice if you want to bring home a piece of Dalat’s charm. 



When you move on inside, just after the flower stands, waiting for you are stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables. At 1,500m (4,920 ft.) above sea level, Dalat is characterized by its cool year - round climate which endows this hilly land with abundant natural produces found nowhere else in Vietnam. Many of them are made into delicate finished products such as strawberry preserves, mulberry syrups, artichoke tea, dried fruits or Vang Dalat wine. Feel free to ask the seller for samples, and you will find they are really worth it. All of them are Dalat’s  specialties. 



The second storey is filled with kiosks selling souvenirs and woolies of all designs and colors. Most charming are woolen jumpers, scarves or hats hand – knitted by Dalat’s  skillful artisans. Most exceptional are engravings on pine wood with a "fire-pen" devised by a family who still reserves the copyright. Yet most regrettable is that you have to end your shopping soon as the market closes at 6p.m. But seemingly in order to not make you sad for long, the night market ( also called Hades market by locals) will soon come up right along the streets nearby. Open until 4a.m the next day, Hades market gives room to just the same items as you could see during your day shopping, often at cheaper prices and still with little hassle. After all, a fun vibe pervades Dalat day and night.

Strawberry gardens

You may choose to expand your shopping trip by renting a motorbike or xe om to one of the many strawberry gardens on the outskirt of the city. If you come during May and June, you may lucky to go down and pick your own fruits. Otherwise, these jam produce house also give great opportunity for you to try Artichoke tea and home made jams.



A jar of strawberry or mango jam to bring home will make a great souvenirs. And if you are a fan of tea, the famous Dalat Artichoke tea is known to be healthful which helps cool your liver from alcohol on the one hand and put you to sleep easily on the other.

Come and discover Dalat yourself!
Shopping in Hue
“ Having come to Hue several times
I nurture a sweet love for 
Hue’s contemplation and charm
That is no where to be found" 


When you hold it up against the sunlight, you may find its inner side glimmering with those poetic lines. It is Hue conical hat, also called “poem hat” ( non bai tho), symbolizing Hue’s beauty  - deeply and charming. Thus, when considering what to give your nearest and dearest as a gift from Hue, a conical hat is your very first choice. You can buy one from almost any shopping site here as many families in the countryside around Hue make conical hats for sale. They create subtle hats with special dexterity but charge only about 15 – 20,000 VND (1 USD) for each. After all, that is how they make for a living and proudly tell the world about their culture. 

Hue is also particularly well – known for being Viet Nam’s old citadel for nearly 400 years (1558 – 1945). When shopping, you can feel this royal trait in souvenirs   having the shape of little things used by royalties like the Queen’s cosmetics box and germ jewelries. The royal life attracted a lot of artisans to Citadel Hue, and by now Hue has been home to myriad kinds of traditional artistic crafts for hundreds of years.

For an overview, you should come to Pilgrimage Village where crafts are categorized and displayed in four main groups: silk/ fabric, woodwork, ceramics and rattan. Here you will not only watch local artisans demonstrate their craftmanship first - hand but also can buy finished products for your keep sake. Other pocket names for you are XQ silk embroidery paintings, Duc guild’s bronze articles, Bao La artistic rattan and bamboo items, Phuoc Tich pottery and so on. 

Lastly, it would be a big mistake if you leave Hue without once shopping in Dong Ba market. Located on the north bank of the Perfume River a few hundred metres north of Trang Tien bridge, this is Hue's largest market. Its attraction is constituted by all the typical features of a Vietnamese traditional market, for example, the sampan landing, the bus station and the bazaars. Once going inside, you are not likely to be able to get out soon because of such a wide range of goods sold here. Especially, Dong Ba market gives room for you to taste delicious specialties of Hue including clam rice, beef noodles, shrimp cakes, pancakes, bean puddings, sour shrimps, and My Lai shredded lean meat.
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