With a lack for expensive products of famous brand names, Vietnam is still a paradise for buying meticulous and beautiful handmade stuff which you can hardly find anywhere else.
Shopping in Vietnam
Tailor-made Ao dai: Tailors in Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue and Saigon are reputable for making Ao dai (both traditional and renovated ones) as well as styled clothes from silks. Within as short as two days, you will have your orders done.
Handicrafts: Through the skillful hands of the Vietnamese artisans, ordinary stuff like leaf hats (non la), potteries, scarves and brocades can become artworks. They are undoubtedly beautiful in appearance and hence indeed are nice decorations for your houses as well as sensible souvenirs for your family, relatives and friends.
One more thing, remember to follow these tips so that you can get the best out of shopping activities:
Ask your hotel’s staves as well as tour guides for the best options of shop. As they understand more about the local land and people than you, they can give you valuable information about shops where you can buy products in high quality with reasonable price. Plus, ask your guides to go shopping with you so that you can avoid being scammed or getting lost.
Just bring an adequate part of your money for shopping and keep the rest of them in a secure place at your hotel, and always hold your bag tightly in your hands so that your assets will not be stolen by pickpockets—they can mingle in the crowd and hence it is difficult to identify which one is the bad guy.
Before buying anything, do not forget to survey the price and make a bargain. As bargaining is a feature of lifestyle in many South East Asian countries, Vietnam is no exception: In the shops which fixed prices are not available, sellers never give out a reasonable price for an item right away at the first time you ask about it. Instead, they start with a high price and expect you to bargain down until you reach a fair price. Moreover, you should walk around, compare the given price with those of other shops, and buy the item at the shop with a lowest price. When you bargain, make an offer which is about 40% of the initial offered price, and keep on until you reach the price you want (normally with 20% discount). Indeed, bargaining can become a fun experience for you and can give you real “bargain”; however, remember that the act of walking away after you reach a price agreement with shops’ sellers is considered disrespectful.
Pay in cash while you are in normal markets because credit cards won’t do—they are only accepted as payments at shopping centers and supermarkets. Before you go for a shopping, you can exchange for local currency at your hotel. In some cases, sellers also take in US dollar.
In case you buy one or some heavy, bulky items, you can ask sellers for a delivery which is generally free and keeps your hands not busy to continue buying stuff. What you need to do is giving them the right address of your hotel and not paying in full until the items are at your room.
Never buy things sold by street vendors, ever—just keep on going and pass them by.