What to buy: We bought foodstuffs and coffee to distribute to our families and friends. This package consists of coffee powder and a strainer (for drinking the drip-coffee). It doesn't cost much, just 1-2 Singapore dollars. You can find this everywhere, from Ben Thanh Market to marts. They come in different flavours - vanilla, hazelnut, weasel (!!!) etc.
Ceramics, Laquerware and Pottery
What to buy: Vietnam is a good place to buy lacquerware, pottery and cermics. We bought this cute little teapot and cups set (in a shopping centre) for just 100,000 VND, which is about 10 SGD. The seller did not have boxes, but she wrapped each piece individually in layers of bubble wrap and newspapers.
Piracy is a problem but if you do not mind the US$3 or less on each DVD, you can find them in many shops along Pham Ngu Lao and other backpackers' areas. They are a hit with western tourists especially, with their offer of the latest titles in movies and TV series.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Sinh Cafe: Day Tours
I read of Sinh Cafe in this site but since we travelled via a package tour to Ho Chi Minh, I didn't think I will encounter the services of this cafe.
It was a such a surprise that our tour package was courtesy of the ever-reliable Sinh Cafe. Sinh Cafe is located in the tourist district. It cannot be missed as daily tourist buses leave from there.
There are other tour operators in this street so find out the package that best suits your taste.
Buses are clean, tours are cheap and cater mostly to European tourists.
What to buy: Day Tours
Open Bus Tours
Border Crossing to Cambodia
Since it's also a cafe, you can have your taste of pho here.
What to pay: City tours ($4 half day and $5 whole day)
Day trips to Cu Chi and Cao Dai Temple ($5), Mekong Delta, open bus tours to other parts of Vietnam and border crossing to Cambodia. Buses leave at 7:30 am for long-distance destinations and 8:15 am for city tours.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Xuan Qui Shop: Sequinned silk/velvet bags
It's one of those old shops along Le Loi St. (a few blocks away from Ben Thahn market)
What to buy: sequinned silk bag - 2 for $5
sequinned velvet bag - 2 for $7
What to pay: Not as cheap as your average souvenir Vietnam shirt but an ideal souvenir for party-going women
Bich Lien: Lacquerwares
Buy lacquerware albums, display plates, wine holders, serving trays, and jewelry boxes.
Prices are in USD but you can pay in VND.
What to buy: Unique lacquerware photo-album (album cover has the usual Saigon ladies wearing ao dai and conical hats) cannot be found in other lacquerware stores.
What to pay: USD 5-12
General: GENERAL SHOPPING
Most shops are centred in the area surrounding the Rex Hotel. Best buys include items with mother of pearl inlay, ceramics, embroidered articles, wood-block prints, watercolours and lacquer ware, reputed to be the best in the world. Especially popular are also rosewood bowls and boxes. Coffee lovers should know that Vietnamese coffee is among the best in the world. The Binh Tay Market in China Town offers an astounding variety of goods. Here bargaining is an expected practice. The local currency is the dong; most purchases can be paid for in U.S. dollars.
Tay Son Factory: LACQUER FACTORY
Saigon is renowned for its exquisite lacquer ware and the Tay Son factory is among the best known establishments in the city. You can visit the factory and see the process of making a wide array of handicrafts and other items. It also offers an opportunity to purchase some souvenir items.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Many shops in Dong Khoi selling local crafts such as silk bag with stiched pictures, necklaces, brooch ext. The prices are usually expensive even after bargain.
If you try Cho Lon, you will probably find the product with same design with same quality, offer in a far cheaper price.
What to pay: Visit Cho Lon before Dong Khoi to compare the price (if you cannnot afford). If you dont mind paying more, then just buy.
Ben Thanh Market
You can get your vietnamese costume - ao dai ( pronounce as 'ao yai') here. Ben Thanh market offer a good range of choices on ao dai. The costume can be ready in one to two days time according to your figure.
Vietnamese is very smart, most of the parts of the clothes are ready except some critical joint which need customer's figure. They applied this theory in supply chain called postponement to reduce the inventory and improve the respond time. Cool.
Many little shops tucked into odd corners: Exquisite model Boats, Ships and Planes
Model ships, from square-riggers through yachts and junks to ocean liners, are available in many small and large shops in HCMC. While one might normally classify this product line as handicrafts, they are so unique and special in HCMC that they really deserve special note on your shopping agenda. Even if you are not in the market to buy one, do yourself a favor and stop and look at one of the shops selling them. Even if you do not buy one I bet you take a photograph of them like I did!
These are not toys. Ranging in size from one to five feet in length, these models are beautiful display and collector items because of their superb detail and materials.
This was a nice shop behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in District 1 that I stopped at. The models were exquisite. They even had a model Titanic with working lights. I expected the price to be pretty high but was astounded to learn that I could buy one of the cruise ship looking models (maybe a foot long) for around $40 USD. If I could have fit it into my suitcase to take back to the USA it would have been a sale.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Musical Instrument Shop: Inside the Museum of Vietnamese History
This musical instrument shop can be found in the Museum of Vietnamese History where they sell traditional Vietnamese wooden musical instruments.
Art Works: Art Works
You can find loads of art work shops around Bien Vien Street. I was not an art lover and so did not buy any but you can find a good array of selections.
Old Post Office: Small souvenir counter in Post Office
What to buy: If you hate haggling and bargaining. This place is for you.
What to pay: Fixed Price. No Haggling. Expect to pay 1,5 to 2 times of the price in the market or any other places.
Everywhere on the street: Ugly coca can souvenirs
Local people can make everything out of used cans, mostly the colourful red Coca Cola can
War is very well represented with tanks, helicopters...
What to pay: near to nothing
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