Shopping in Ho Chi Minh is fun and there are plenty of opportunities to buy some very special souvenirs to remind you of your stay in Vietnam. There are numerous street markets such as Ben Thanh and Binh Tay (Cholon). Some of the markets specialize in a particular item such as silk and wood or even war memorabilia (Dan Sinh). There are traditional shopping streets and three different ‘Saigon Squares’ and several elegant shopping malls too. Diamond Plaza is one of the largest malls and has world-class shops and is situated in an old colonial building. There is family entertainment with a bowling alley and video arcade on the 4th floor and six cinemas on the 13th floor! The Takashimaya department store is the first Japanese store in Vietnam and has a glittering array of products from Japan, Europe, and the United States
1. Treat yourself to some fabulous chocolate
Would you believe it? World-class gourmet chocolate is made in Ho Chi Minh. Marou Faiseurs du Chocolat was started by two enthusiastic Frenchmen using cocoa grown in the plantation on the Mekong Delta. Their factory is situated on the edge of the city and their excellent plain chocolate is made on the premises. The bars of chocolate are packaged in jewel-bright wrappers that are decorated in black and gold and they make really good gifts to take home. Whilst you are there, do take time to visit the coffee shop and order a chili hot chocolate which is unbelievably good!
2. Buy a length of beautiful silk
Why not enjoy a wander in one of the fabric markets and choose a length of silk to take home? There is a rainbow of colors to choose from as well as patterned silk and hand-embroidered silk with intricate designs. Tan Dinh market is the largest and very popular for its excellent fabric stalls.
3. Look elegant in an ‘ao dai’
The Vietnamese national costume for ladies is a popular buy with many visitors as it is very elegant and extremely comfortable. The ‘ao dai’ comprises of a long short-sleeved tunic with side splits for ease of movement and matching long slim fitting silk trousers. These outfits are available in plain and patterned fabrics or if you prefer, it is possible to get an ‘ao dai’ made-to-measure in the fabric of your choice in just a few hours.
4. Treat yourself to a traditional ‘non la’
These distinctive conical woven sun hats have been worn since the 13th century and are very popular as not only do they do a good job of shading your face from the sun, they are effective if there is a short, sharp downpour of rain. Non la can be bought very cheaply in all of the street markets.
5. Pack some Vietnamese tea
Phuc Long is the best-known brand and has its factory in the city. The loose leaf tea is sold in really attractive packets that make ideal gifts. The peach tea is very popular, but there are green tea, black tea, and oolong tea to choose from. The factory shop is a good place to shop, but if not there are tea stalls in most of the street markets.
6. And why not some coffee too?
Vietnamese Robusta coffee is very popular and is another really good gift idea. Phuc Long also produces packets of coffee which come with instruction leaflets on how to produce the perfect cup of Vietnamese coffee! Local coffee can also be found on sale in all food stores.
7. Treat yourself to some lovely ceramics
The Vietnamese love attractive china and it is widely available in the city. There are plates, bowls, cup and saucers and all are elegant with traditional Vietnamese designs. If you have the time, there is ‘pottery village’ in the Thu Duc district – about 40 minutes from the city center – where you will be spoilt for choice!
8. Enjoy great shoe shopping
There are two entire streets in Ho Chi Minh that are dedicated to showing shops! The first is Ly Chinh Thong which specializes in fashionable footwear and the second is Luu Van Lang which is the place to get sports shoes and sandals. In both streets, you will find really good imitations of all the top international brands – at a fraction of the price!
9. Be dazzled by the selection of watches
It is not only copies of the top brands of clothing and footwear that you will find on sale in Ho Chi Minh, but an amazing selection of copies of all the well known makes of watches – for all the family! Ben Thanh market probably has the widest choice, but the prices are higher, the Binh Tay market is where the best bargains can be found.
10. Invest in a larger suitcase!
With so many tempting things to buy in the city, you may well find yourself running out of space in your suitcase. The great news is that there is a whole street of luggage shops! Le Lai Street is near Ben Thanh market and has numerous shops selling all sorts of bags, rucksacks, and cases including top quality names such as North Face and Samsonite – problem solved!