Crafts

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.
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.

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.
XQ
Address: 64 Ð Tran Phu
Website: www.xqhandembroidery.com
Phone: 058 352 6579

Description:

XQ is an unique and well-known hand embroidery shop designed to look like a traditional and historical rural village. XQ hand embroidery pictures bring about a new color for Vietnam hand embroidery, promoting typical Vietnamese culture and also serve as a precious gift meaningful souvenir for international visitors on their occasion to Viet Nam. You can watch the artisans at work in the embroidery workshop and gallery are invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of green tea as you wander around.
Ngoc Bich Gift Shop
Address: 12 Tran Phu Street
Tel: (058) 590 066
Website: http://vngold.com/nt/ngoebich/index2.html

Description:

Ngoc Bich Gift Shop is a big and popular gift shop in Nha Trang specializes in fine arts and unique handicrafts including tortoise shells, lobsters, sea shell and much more things of that kind.
Local Handicrafts
In Sapa there is a high chance that every female meet on the street will try to sell you handcrafted goods. It is an amazing scene to see them making colorful handmade crafts which could make unique presents to bring home whenever they sit down for a moment; They also sell hats, traditional jewelries, necklaces, bracelets and also all kind of colorful wall-decorations. The price is about US$1-5 depending on how much you are willing to bargain and how nice the lady you bargain with is.
Hoi An House of Traditional Crafts
Address: 41 Le Loi St Hoi An, Vietnam 

Description:
House of Hoi An Traditional Handicraft is an unusual silk shop which possesses an incredible collection of traditional from hand woven sleeping mats, textile, pottery and lacquer ware. It uses real live silkworms which are brought up through various stages of maturity, helping reveal the origin and treatment of this unique, traditional fabric. Contemporary artistic creations can also be found here.
Lifestart Foundation Workshop
Address: 77 Phan Chu Trinh, Hoi An  Vietnam 
Website: http://www.lifestartfoundation.org.au/workshop/
Email: sue.long@lifestartfoundation.org.au
 
Description
Lìfestart Foundation is a non-profit organization opening a workshop which specializes in making unique handmade arts/crafts for the goal of supporting those who have difficult lives. Each item is skillfully handmade by workshop members and the entire proceeds from the sales go directly to them in order to provide them a sustainable income. They also provide half-day tours for tourists to make a Hoi An lantern and a traditional painting class.
Things
Address: 16 A2 Ly Nam De, Hanoi
Phone:  042413431
Website: www.decorathings.com

Description:
A small home furnishings shop on Ly Nam De – the so-called “computer street.” It has many ‘things’ from useful IKEA baby items such as the ever-popular high chair, bibs and eating utensils to plenty of kitsch wall stickers and also a great 'retro' range of wall and bedside clocks. A little quirky gift can be found here.
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