Vietnam Shopping Guide: What To Buy in Vietnam

Traveling to Vietnam and wondering what traditional souvenirs you’ll find for sale during your trip? We have lived in Vietnam for a year and shopped extensively in stores and markets across Vietnam. We now have a pretty good idea of the best Vietnamese souvenirs to buy for friends and family back home and where in Vietnam to buy them.

Based on our experience, we have put together this Vietnam shopping guide including what to buy in Vietnam, average price ranges for popular Vietnamese souvenirs, where to get the best prices, and how to bargain in Vietnam.

If you’re curious about the price or availability of a Vietnamese souvenir that we haven’t included in our list, just add a comment at the end of this article and we’ll do our best to help you find it and buy it. Happy shopping!


Bargaining in Vietnam

Shopping in Vietnam: Bargaining Tips

You can get the best prices on most of the souvenirs listed below if you buy them in markets around Vietnam. Market vendors in Vietnam rarely list prices on their products. So you’ll have to ask the owner of the stall for the price of every single thing you consider purchasing.

Not only is this a frustrating way to shop, but it never makes you feel very good about the transaction. It’s common knowledge that locals and foreigners who can speak the language get quoted better prices, while tourists (especially older ones) are given much higher prices.

In the markets of Vietnam, it is both expected and anticipated that you will negotiate the price of souvenirs in the markets. As a general rule, I don’t negotiate when prices are marked. And when a shop vendor quotes me a price, I usually counter with a number that is 50% of their offer and hope to land somewhere in the middle.

If negotiations are challenging or the shop owner is particularly stubborn (or if I’m just not sure I actually want the souvenir), I simply say “thank you” and walk away. If the shop owner yells or runs after you, that’s a clear sign that negotiations can continue. If not, you’ve probably suggested a price that is below the threshold they are willing to go.

Where to Buy Vietnamese Souvenirs

Shopping in Vietnam: Haggling Tips

You’ll find many of the souvenirs listed below all over Vietnam, but there are a few cities that sell more specialized goods. If you’re in the market for leather goods or colorful lanterns you’ll want to shop in Hoi An. There are leather shops all throughout the old town and a plethora of lanterns for sale in the daily night market.

Sapa is the best place in Vietnam to buy woven textiles. There are small shops all over that sell textiles and you’ll probably be bombarded by Hmong women asking you to buy their souvenirs every time you leave your hotel. The Sapa Market is also a good place to buy reasonably priced goods.

For paintings, propaganda posters, and matching t-shirts, Hanoi is the best best. The old quarter is filled with small shops where you’ll certainly find all of the Vietnamese souvenirs listed below. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, try the Dong Xuan Market or the popular weekend night market.

And finally, if you’re looking to pick up a few knockoffs during your trip to Vietnam, you’ll find a huge selection in the markets of Saigon. The Ben Thanh Market offers knockoffs, souvenirs, and food options, while the best prices can be found at Saigon Square and the Russian Market. Read all about shopping in Saigon here!


Shopping in Vietnam: Bargaining Tips + The Best Vietnamese Souvenirs

Leather Goods

Vietnam Shopping (What to Buy in Vietnam): Leather Bags

If you are planning a stop in Hoi An during your trip to Vietnam, you’ll definitely want to pick up a leather bag or a pair of leather shoes. There are countless quaint little shops throughout Hoi An’s Old Quarter with high-quality leather goods spilling out their front doors. If you have a few days to spend here, you can even get a piece custom-made.

Most of the leather goods that you’ll find in Hoi An are very high quality and will last you for a long time. Be sure to check the zippers and the lining (mesh lining will not hold up as long as it is thin and rips easily) prior to committing to purchasing.

You’ll have to do some serious negotiating to get a good price on your leather souvenir in Hoi An. The price for large duffle bags will usually start in the $100-120 USD range but you should be able to get the price down to $80 USD. Smaller bags range from $40-60 USD but you should be able to knock $5 or $10 off of the price at the very least.

Our favorite shop to purchase leather bags in Hoi An is Tuong Khang but the owner is a shrewd negotiator so bring your A-game!

Something Tailored

Vietnam Shopping (What to Buy in Vietnam): Tailored Dress or Suit

Another incredibly popular souvenir that tourists love to bring back from Vietnam is a custom-tailored dress, suit, or jacket. You can find tailors all over Vietnam but most of the tailors who cater to tourists are concentrated in Hoi An. I say that they “cater to tourists” because they can complete your design in just a few days. I had a dress tailored in Hanoi and it took weeks and several fittings to complete.

We actually found the process of attempting to get something tailored in Hoi An to be quite frustrating. The reason being that they can’t really quote you an accurate price until you’ve selected your design and the fabric. So you spend a lot of work coming up with something you like, and then the price is quite higher than you would expect. It’s not easy to shop around to find the best price unless you’re willing to dedicate a lot of your time and energy to it.

Expect to spend upwards of $100 USD for a custom-tailored dress, and $150-200 USD for a custom suit. These prices seem quite high by Vietnamese standards, but if you consider what you would pay for a custom suit in the US, it’s actually a great deal. You just have to be prepared to drop some dough.

In Hoi An, Ba Ri Tailor has a good reputation for doing high-quality work at a reasonable price. And I had a dress made in Hanoi at Jade Hanoi Tailor but as previously mentioned, you can’t expect a speedy turnaround.

Designer Knockoffs

What to Buy in Vietnam (Shopping in Vietnam): Designer Knockoffs

You’ll see designer knockoffs in markets all over Vietnam – and they are done so well that you won’t even be able to tell that they aren’t the real thing! Don’t let any market vendors convince you that you’re purchasing an authentic pair of Nikes or a Coach bag, you’re not. The taxes on imports are quite high in Vietnam so you’ll pay more for a pair of Nikes here than you would in the US. And they are sold in proper stores in malls all over the country, not in night markets.

But knockoffs in Vietnam can actually be pretty high quality! You can find a plethora of knockoff shoes, athletic clothes, luggage, bags and purses in Ho Chi Minh City at either Saigon Square or the Russian Market. Both are open all day long and in covered buildings, so you won’t be forced to shop in the heat.

If you need to purchase an extra piece of luggage to get all of your Vietnamese treasures home with you, we have found that the knockoff North Face duffle bags are very durable and incredibly cheap! You can get a medium-sized duffle for around $16 USD in Vietnam, whereas the original is closer to $150 on Amazon!

Silk Robes

Vietnam Shopping (What to Buy in Vietnam): Silk Robes

You’ll see lovely “silk” robes sold all over Vietnam. They come in a variety of colors and are usually covered in a floral design. I say “silk” robes because the price per robe is only around 150,000 – 300,000 VND (~$6 – $13 USD) so it is not very likely that you’re actually purchasing silk, no matter what they tell you.

The price of one of these robes should start at around 300,000 VND and you’ll likely be able to negotiate down to 200,000 VND (~$8.50 USD). If you are buying multiple robes for friends back home, you should try to get the price down to 150,000 VND each.

I would definitely recommend picking up a few of these for your friends back home because they are lightweight, pack down small, and one size fits all! But don’t forget to get one for you too! But don’t worry if you forget, similar robes are also available on Amazon.

Hand-Woven Textiles

Shopping in Vietnam (What to Buy in Vietnam): Handwoven Textiles

If you travel around northern Vietnam you’ll undoubtedly encounter brightly colored hand-woven textiles for sale, especially in the Sapa region. If you travel to Sapa you’ll be bombarded by Hmong women selling these embroidered bags as soon as you get off the bus. You’ll also see them for sale in many shops in Hanoi. However, they are far less common to find in Ho Chi Minh City so don’t expect to find them all over Vietnam or you’ll be disappointed.

You can find woven blankets in the Sapa Market in town for $40-60 USD. The small change purses that the Hmong women sell shouldn’t cost you more than a dollar or two for each. And our absolute favorite place to purchase hand-woven bags in Hanoi is Nunal Boutique. It’s a tiny shop with high-quality bags at really reasonable prices.

Straw Purses and Bags

Shopping in Vietnam (What to Buy in Vietnam): Straw Purses & Bags

Straw purses and bags are souvenirs that you’ll see all over SE Asia. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from small clutches to large beach bags. And some come with various tassels glued on the side.

You can purchase them for about half the price of similar bags on Amazon, just remember that they are fragile and aren’t exactly easy to get back home. Don’t make the same mistake I did – be sure that your phone will actually fit inside the bag before you purchase!

Colorful Lanterns

Shopping in Vietnam (What to Buy in Vietnam): Lanterns

Trust me when I tell you that it will be impossible to walk through the Hoi An night market and leave without purchasing a colorful cloth lantern. Not only are they cheap, but they also pack down relatively small so they are easy-ish to travel with. Plus if you buy one (or more!) the stall owners will let you snap as many Instagram-worthy photos as you want. They can get a little testy if you try to take a photo without making a purchase.

The larger balloons that are shaped like a hot air balloon will run you 100,000 – 120,000 VND in the night market (~$4-6 USD) and a bit less as some of the shops around the Old Quarter. Of course, we would recommend purchasing from photogenic shops so you can leave with a cute photo and a fun Vietnamese souvenir!

Be sure to buy these in Hoi An as they aren’t nearly as common in the shops around Hanoi and they are almost impossible to find in Ho Chi Minh City.

Banana Shirts

What to Buy in Vietnam (Shopping in Vietnam): Banana Shirts

Cheesy? Yes. Worth it for a silly photo? Absolutely.

Don’t ask us why, but you’ll see banana-themed attire all over Vietnam. And you’ll also see lots of couples wearing coordinating banana outfits while holding hands and wandering around the city. Buttondown shirts, lightweight dresses, and floppy hats are the most common items that you’ll see for sale in the markets of Hanoi, Hoi An, and Saigon.

Definitely negotiate a good price on your new banana outfit since it’ll shrink after one wash and you’ll end up tossing it. None of the banana-themed pieces should run you more than $5 USD.

Silly Print Shirts

Shopping in Vietnam (What to Buy in Vietnam): Printed T-Shirts

Speaking of silly attire, there’s much more of that to choose from in Vietnam. Shirts with sayings like “we were made pho each other” spill out of the shops around the old quarter of Hanoi. Others pay homage to the movie with “good morning Vietnam” written across the front. And still others that aren’t exactly appropriate say things like “Pho King” to mimic the Burger King logo (say it out loud and you’ll understand).

T-shirts are a great Vietnamese souvenir to buy for friends and family members back home because they are cheap and won’t take up too much room in your suitcase. Just remember that they are Asian sizes meaning that if you normally wear a medium, you’ll likely be an XL in Vietnam. You really shouldn’t have to pay more than $5 USD for a t-shirt in Vietnam.

Paintings

Vietnam Shopping (What to Buy in Vietnam): Paintings

Paintings always seem like a great souvenir to take home because they can be rolled up and placed in a protective cardboard case. Plus they make a statement and won’t take up a ton of room in your house. Just remember that on top of the price you pay for the painting, you’ll need to pay significantly more to get it stretched so it can hang on your wall.

Shops selling paintings of various landscapes around Vietnam are common to see in Hanoi and Hoi An. They all sell relatively similar paintings and claim that the more expensive ones are originals while the cheaper ones are copies. That’s really difficult to prove one way or the other so we would recommend just buying whatever speaks to you – original or not.

We bought a large painting of a Vietnamese landscape in Hanoi as a gift for my mother. The price started at $100 USD and I ended up getting him down to $30. That’s probably not very common but my point is that the starting price will likely be very inflated and you’ll need to drive a hard bargain.

Be sure to watch as your painting is packaged to ensure that the canvas isn’t ripped or creased when it is removed from the wooden frame.

Lacquerware

Vietnam Shopping (Bargaining & What to Buy): Lacquerware

Painted lacquer boxes and bowls are other common souvenirs that you’ll find all over Vietnam. Square boxes painted with Vietnamese women wearing ao dais (pronounced “ao yai”) is one of the most popular in the markets. As are round bowls that have been painted with vibrantly colored flowers.

These are great souvenirs to take home because they are relatively sturdy and you can fill them with clothes while packing to keep them safe in your suitcase. You’ll find painted lacquer bowls and boxes for sale in Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City, and at the night market in Hoi An.

The prices for lacquerware vary widely depending on the type and size, but you should never pay more than $20 USD for each piece. The medium-sized bowls should be around 250,000 (~$10.75 USD) and, as with everything you buy, you’ll get a better price if you purchase more items from one vendor.

Embroidered Wall Hangings

Vietnam Shopping, Bargaining, What to Buy: Embroidered Wall Hangings

If you take the bus from Hanoi to Sapa or from Hanoi to Halong Bay, you’ll probably end up stopping for a “bathroom break” at a massive souvenir shop. And that souvenir shop will probably have people sitting at tables, hand-embroidering wall hangings. And if you take a few minutes to watch, you’ll find that their work is truly incredible.

If you want to buy one of these embroidered wall hangings, it’ll cost you a few hundred dollars. And you won’t find any that are this large or intricate in any night markets in any of the cities. There is one in Saigon called XQ Sai Gon but it’s the only one we’ve encountered outside of the bus stop souvenir shops.

However, you will find smaller and simpler wall hangings in the various souvenir shops and markets in every city in Vietnam. Expect to pay $12-15 USD for a simple 8×10 wall hanging.

Conical Hats

Vietnam Shopping (What to Buy in Vietnam): Conical Hats

Conical hats (known as nón lá or leaf hats in Vietnam) aren’t just for tourists, you’ll actually see many Vietnamese people wearing them all over the country to keep the sun off their face and neck. Conical hats are very cheap to buy and good to wear for protection while you’re traveling within Vietnam. But they aren’t exactly practical to take home with you as a souvenir.

It’s much easier to leave yours in Vietnam when you head home and then buy one on Amazon if you find that you can’t live without it.

A simple woven conical hat should cost around 30,000 – 50,000 VND (~$1.25 – $2 USD) and the price will go up from there if you want a more elaborate one that has been hand-painted.

Propaganda Posters

What to Buy in Vietnam (Shopping & Bargaining in Vietnam): Propoganda Posters

Propaganda posters were used during the war to keep the Vietnamese people in high spirits. The images are colorful and drawn in such a way that makes them quite unique to Vietnam. You’ll see more of these for sale all over the Old Quarter in Hanoi, but there are a few places to purchase in Saigon as well.

Saigon Kitsch is a shop that sells propaganda posters and a host of other souvenirs. You can also find t-shirts depicting the propaganda images in the shops that face the street around the Ben Thanh Market. We purchased our posters from a very friendly woman running a small, nameless shop on Bui Vien Street.

Phin Coffee Filters

Vietnam Shopping, Bargaining & What to Buy: Phin Coffee Filter

If you enjoy coffee and choose to visit some of the quaint coffee shops in Saigon, you’ll likely be served at least one cup in a phin coffee filter. These silver filters are filled with coffee grounds and hot water and then placed directly over an empty cup. As the coffee brews, it slowly drips down into the cup.

If you’re like most foreigners, after enjoying a cup of coffee served this way you’ll think “this is so easy! I must do this when I get back home!” Lucky for you they are available to purchase in Ben Thanh market for about 50,000 VND (~$2 USD) each.

Pop-up Greeting Cards

Shopping in Vietnam - Bargaining & What to Buy: Pop-up Greeting Cards

You’ll see women selling these creative little pop-up cards all over Vietnam. They are simple on the outside but when you open the card an intricate paper design springs to life! You shouldn’t pay more than 30,000 – 50,000 VND per card depending on the size. You’ll find them in all of the day and night time markets in every city around Vietnam.

Have a wonderful time shopping in Vietnam!


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