Clothes, Ho Chi Minh City
There are many tailor shops in HCMC, especially in areas like Dong Khoi and De Tham Street that will tailor an ao-dai in 24 hours or less. Yes, at first I was a bit sceptical but how could I resist tailoring an ao-dai for a lot less than what I would pay at home for a blouse?
What to buy: Get a lovely , tailor -made Vietnamese ao-dai ( say ow-yai ) for USD20 or less. These lovely dresses go for USD10 at Ben Tanh Market but they won't fit you properly as they are catered for the local sizes. I had my Ao Dai tailored at a small shop in De Tham St and it fitted me like a glove. Naturally, I choose Vietnamese Silk as they have a very lovely sheen. Needless to say, drive a hard bargain. I got mine at a US20 or so after I agreed to make 2 suits. Just walk away if you feel that the price is not right. But take this advice with a pinch of salt, afterall, some of my friends have commented that I'm the customer from hell.
Tip update: Though there are a number of good tailors in De Tham St, you can go to "Nha May Cuong" owned by Mr Cuong. He has shops at 59 Ly Tu Truong and at 247 Le Thanh Ton. Best of all, this tailor will escort you to Ben Thanh Market to help you select the fabric first. Another fine choice is Albert Thanh, whose shop is at 22 Vo Van Tan Street District 3.
Note:I'm tempted to remove this tip. Honestly, after I posted this, I received more than a thousand emails asking me how much a tailor-made suit or dress would cost. To be honest, I don't know since I'm pretty much a pret a porter girl when it comes to western dress. I've only tailored traditional dresses like the ao-dai, cheong sum and the kebaya since these dresses need to fit like a glove and will not be available in your average calvin klein store.
What to pay: Do expect to pay about USD 30- 40 per ao-dai. cp
The nice ladies (Ms Hiew and her sister Ms Vicky) are so helpful in your selection of the shirts,pants and all types of clothes. Speaks wonderful English and helpful in many ways. Ah...prices of the shirts, depends on the quantity you buy.
I was there 2 consecutive days buying t-shirts and t-shirts at BARGAINABLE prices. You got to check this place out and if the price fancies you, buy your tshirts, sportswear, pants from here. You don;t need to go anywhere else
Ms Hiew and Vicky's aunt - Nga, is also so helpful. But she can't speak English but gives all kinds of ideas what you may want to buy. (Note: You have to get a size larger to allow for "shrinkage". My mistake, I didn't know this until I machine washed the tshirts)
What to buy: All types of clothes - Shirts, sport shirts, women sport shirts, pants, working shirts, khakis, shorts.
What to pay: Ooo... you have to bargain the best price. I think I got the best price for my shirts....but then again, you may get better prices.
T-shirts bearing Uncle Ho (Ho Chi Minh that is) and the Vietnamese Flag are very popular items with the backpacker's crowd. Plenty of stalls are selling them - everywhere - for cheap. Do bargain. You can get them for as low as 6000dongs or less if you buy more. Check for quality though as the quality does varies. Pull the neck especially and make sure they spring back or you will have a lovely evening gown after a few washes. Usually they are made from Polyester or Nylon, and not cotton. I bought some at some stalls near Ben Thanh and the colour washes off. But some I bought from a shop off Dong Khoi, turned out to be pretty good stuff.
When taking a trip round HCMC one of the most "attractive" places that draw lots of attendence of tourists especially women that's is Tailors where u can have a silk or embroidred shirts made , for girls that is Ao Dai.
Ao Dai is traditional custume of Vietnam,it looks modest but still "sexy" hehehe!!!
If u dont believe ,get one and try it on u will see how beautiful ur (for girls only ;)!!!)
U can find such a tailor on Dong Khoi or Le Loi streets or round Ben Thanh Market, but on Dong Khoi it's a bit more expensive,but it's ur choice to have a "good-look" custume.
I have never been to another Asian country, but Viet Nam has a huge black market. You can buy just about any "designer label" items. A large Luis Vuitton travel bag goes for about $35. Channel purse - $5 to 20. Ralph Lauren polo shirt - $4. Shoes are like $5 a pair. You can even buy movie DVDs for about a little over $1. I saw DVD's for "Shrek2" and "Shall We Dance?". Warning, you get what you pay for. Last year, my stepmom gave me a Versace wallet that won't close if you have more than 3 credit cards in it. My brother said that all the buttons on his "knock-off" polos have fallen off. Also, these items can be confisicated by US Customs once you return to the United States (it's call copyright).
This is a perfect place to pick up silk, mens suits, womens clothing and more. The silk robes are perfect gifts. The "ao dais", a long gown with slits on either side that is the traditional woman's dress of Vietnam, the blouses and dresses where the best I found anywhere in the country or for that matter south east Asia. Ask for Ms. Nguyet Yen. If she still works there you will have an exceptional experience at the hands of a very lovely young woman.
I bought something here for a girlfirend, an ex-girlfirends, a daughter, my ex-wife, my Vietnamese hairdresser and a good friend. All agreed it was one of the nicest gifts I or anyone had given them.
Come on - any time you please six women something is working right.
THe Nam Phan's are a family that also own at least two of the better restaurants in HCM City.
What to buy: The traditional "ao dai", a long gown with slits on either side
Custom tailored pants, coat or suit
Blouses - formal and casual
Anything else that strikes your fancy. Be sure to go upstairs!!!!!!!!!!
What to pay: I paid about $250 American for mine and I got a lot ( I mean over six high quality items) of stuff.
You can find many shops selling T-shirts but in Ben Thanh market, you can find many, many stalls where you can choose & bargain from
You can buy T-shirts from the upscale souvenir shops e.g in hotels but expect to pay 10x - 20x more!!
What to buy: I'm not going to encourage anyone out there to purchase any fake designer shirts even though they do come in very tempting prices. However, T-shirts made in Vietnam are pretty nice to bring home as souvenirs or gifts to pass around because not only they are inexpensive, they come in nice designs too especially the ones with the embroidery
Personally, I find the cheaper T-shirts are quite thin (but good to wear in a hot & humid place like Saigon) but with the low prices, it's value for money. Plus, they're pretty handy if you forgot to pack extra clothes
What to pay: Some stalls are notorious because even after I bargained for half the price of the item, I found other places that sell them for less than that. I guess they know the trick so they push the price higher
So, the cheapest T-shirts I bought were US$1 for printed tees and US$2 for T-shirts with embroidery
Embroidered silk bags, silk scarf
Just as in any other Asian market transaction, tell them you'd buy more than 1 and you'd get a discount.
It's good that there's a price tag for each item. I almost bought the same scarf for 2x its price in Ben Thanh market.
What to buy: Silk Scarf/pashmina - that you use when you wear your little black evening dress.
What to pay: Silk scarf/pashmina- $3 for 1 or 2 for $5 depending on quality, good ones can go as high as $8
Saigon is a bargain basement in more ways than one. Clothing is probably cheapest. My companions bought fabric and had several dresses tailor-made. I myself had some suits made for somewhere around $20/each. However, to get the best deal, you'd have to bargain. This is unnatural even for me, who speaks Vietnamese fluently. You don't have to be an expert haggler, but as a rule of thumb shouldn't fall for the first price the vendor quotes. Or the second. Or the third.
Backpackers (known as Tay Ba Lo or "backpack-westerner" in Vietnamese) mostly concentrate in the Pham Ngu Lao area of District 1. Many domestic tourists come here to "see the hippies" :) I saw a street vendor with a stack of reproduced Lonely Planet guidebooks for less than $5 each. Hmm, but I already got my VT!
During my first day in Saigon, i immediately went to Ben thanh Market to go shopping. I really liked those shirts which had "Good Morning Vietnam" or "Saigon" or "Ho Chi Minh" or the vietnamese flag printed on them, i wanted to give them to my guy friends back home. Anyway, one of the stores in Ben Thanh offered me 1 shirt for 160,000 Dong and i immediately declined. So she gave it to me for 50,000 Dong, then I finally bought alot...i thought i got a bargain but not really...
If you want to buy those similar shirts that i bought, you can find them in the side entrance of Ben Thanh market (where all the night market and food places will be located during the evening). It's not a stall similar to those inside of Ben Thanh, instead they have these concrete, white painted walls and white floors as walkways...it's the only place with a flourescent light and with sales ladies that are in uniform...You can buy the shirts at a fixed price of 27,000 Dong... i think that's the lowest price you can get for a quality souveneir shirt that doesnt fade or easily rips :)
Other stuff such as plates, lacquerqare, fans, etc. can also be found here with their fixed price. Lower than those sold on the stalls.
When in Saigon you must be fitted for an Ao Zai, the Vietnamese Traditional Dress, if you are female. These are very beautiful garments made out of the most wonderful silks. Make sure you demand that they dry clean the garment before you purchase it. An Ao Zai should not cost you more that $25 US dollars. If more you are getting ripped off. Also a lot of these same shops, also have beautiful silk ties available for men for a fraction of the cost back in the US.
Looking for a tailor to make me a bespoke suit, the first place I went to, just of Dong Khoi, was not very encouraging. The owner struggled to tear himself away from the TV to tell me that a suit would cost minimum of $500. I passed on the offer.
By chance I entered a tailors near Zen Plaza that looked quiet. The lady was very helpful, spoke good English, and had a good selection of catalogues for me to choose the style I wanted, and a good selection of material also.
When the suits were ready for fitting several days later, she was very attentive and more than happy to make the adjustments I requested. The quality of the final product was first class. I continue to wear the suits regularly to the office and am almost totally happy with them. Only 1 thing – there is no lining on the inside front thigh of the trousers so maybe you would need to ask for that.
What to buy: The lady also makes and sells silk shirts, ladies’ wear, everything in fact.
What to pay: I bought 4 suits in total, and paid $100 each for them. I never tried to negotiate the price down as I think I got a good deal as was.
This space contains everything you could want in a life style store. The building was built in 1902 and once you get upstairs the owners have made it something really special. As you walk in there is a quaint little french style coffee shop serving the most delicious sandwiches. Go through and come into a gallery where they bring in new young artists from all over the world and that you can purchase for a reasonable price. Some of the local artists are really good. Then the shop blooms into over 250sqm of retail space. Its been designed as a 1930's french factory with what look like original antique machines and furniture its an awesome space that sells both international contemporary fashion and some cool local designers which are all very reasonably priced. I spent hours in there!
What to buy: All sorts from cool head phones, to classic styled mens and ladies garments. They house all sorts of brands from Cheap monday in the mens to Vena Cava for ladies. They also stock Lomo camera's and some super cool kids clothing.
What to pay: its not too bad in anything its cheaper than overseas, some of the ladies fashion stuff was well under $100 USD with a good sandwich and some french Tea running at about $10 for the lot.
It is in a quiet area so you might have to look for it. One of my Vietnamese friends recommended this shop. The first time I visited it was New Year 2008 so I could not have anything made specially for me. But the red silk top and black silk skirt and a blue sundress taken off the dummies were perfect after quick alteration while I waited. I got a lot compliments wearing those outfits in the U.S. They are simple and elegant. People know right away that the outfits are tailored. I came back today to have a couple sundresses made and a suit. I cannot wait to try them out this time. She has plenty of beautiful and colorful outfits through out the store but I am of those few who prefer solid light color clothes. Of course she has men tailor suits and everything else but I am no expert in that. She speaks adequate English and I speak adequate Vietnamese so we got along just fine. She is courteous and professional yet very kind. It is no wonder because she used to be a teacher. If she cannot make the clothes in time, she will refuse the order. Not a fly by night shop. I recommend her without reservation.
What to buy: I come back to VN at least every other year the last 15 years so except for clothes, not much else. Used to buy lots of blue and white and Bat Trang ceramic. They are hand made and so delicate and beautiful.
What to pay: Nov 2009. 400,000 dong for a dress (about $23). She might reduce by 10,000 dong just a goodwill gesture. Asians love to bargain. I paid close to $120 in labor for 3 fancy dresses, 1 pant suit, 2 short skirts all lined!!!! and she does not usually alter your store bought clothes, she also altered 2 lined pairs of pants, one blue Jeans and one unlined pair of pants. What a steal.
I found this shop on Dong Khoi st in Ho Chi Minh City recently, its the main old street in the city and this place is a gem. Its on the first floor so you have to go through a little alleyway and up some stairs but once you get there its beautiful. the owners have taken an old french building and refurbed it to be as if it were original back in the 20/30's. Its got everything in one space, a cafe serving good coffee and tea along with some super sandwiches etc, to the side of the cafe is an art gallery and then the space opens up into a big contemprary fashion store. It really is beautifully done and very original!
What to buy: there is all sorts from mens and ladies clothing to cool stuff for kids, and even fixed wheel bikes and cool accessories. I loved the brands they carried and the prices were great too. There is some real creative local designers too.
What to pay: these are imported brands but the prices are reasonable and in accordance with the western world. The cafe however is one of the cheapest western places i've visited you're talking about 40,000 VND - $2 USD for a good cafe latte!