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
Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh market has a little of everything. Clothes, manchester, souveniers, coffee, fruit & veg etc.
I found the fresh food section the most interesting. Eels & fish jumping out of their buckets, frogs still moving even though they had been skinned and decapitated. Not for the squeamish for sure. The fresh fruit on display was very colourful.
Ngoc Son Guitars: Guitar Street
Locally hand-made guitars from as little as US$28, although have been told that the ones at $60 sound a little better. Also sells string etc for any traveling musso that twanged to hard. Also sell mandolins for about 3 million dong.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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
Tax: Major department store
Tax is a major department store located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh city on the corner almost opposite the Rex hotel. It has many "stalls" of jewellery items including rings, bracelets,necklaces and errings. It also sells other items that you would find in any other department store. Prices seems reasonable.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
On the street: Zippos
This is not really a shop and probably be put in warnings section. Simple piece of advice: there are no geniune war period Zippos on sale in Vietnam any more, anything that you might be (and probably will be) offered by street vendors and shops will be fake, it might look like the real thing, as some clever boys have taken to buying real Zippos, engraving and burying them in the ground for a month or so.
Just got this from the chief rep of Zippo Vietnam.
Thuan My: Mac computers
Being a dedicated Mac user for as long as computers could do anything useful, this shop is essential for my sanity. Hardware prices can't compare to Thailand or Singapore, but they are good at diagnostics, repair and maintanence, or if your like me and must have the latest mac whatever the price.
Ben Thanh Market: HEAVEN FOR SHOPPERS
You don't know well about HCMC if you don't come to Ben Thanh market, the symbol of this city, at least 1 time. It is the most famost shopping area in city center where you can find any local items you like, from clothing, shoes, bags, wood carvings, lacquerware, food... which are sold at more than 3,000 stalls of various sizes. Price may be a bit higher than other places but you can be confident that you buy the best.
Vendors in this market can speak English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and many other languagues, of course it is pidgin, but they can communicate with you anyway. If you stop by a stall where vendors can speak Vietnamese only, don't worry. You can use your poor Vietnamese language or body language with them, it's fun :)
What to pay: Never buy right after they offer you a price if you dont want to buy at unfair price. Bargain! Price can sometimes be dropped down to half or even 1/3 only.
BEN THAN MARKET: A THRIVING MARKET
Built in 1914 Benh Than market is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It is in the centre of town in district 1.
The market is set out in sections covering clothes, everyday items, jewellery, food and souvenirs.
I bought a Starbucks style Vietnamese coffee t-shirt for £7.50
What to buy: local handicrafts, clothes, food, souvenirs, household goods and toiletries.
What to pay: The locals like to haggle, although there is also a fixed price section.
Well, we didn't buy any paintings during our trip to HCMC, but we did pass by quite a number of shops where they sell paintings. They do replicas of famous art pieces, eg. those Andy Warhol stuff, Da Vinci, etc...and some local themes (women in those conical hats). I think you can also show them your fave photos and get them to do a painting for you. However, as I had no intention of buying, I didn't ask about the price. You can find these shops in the Dong Khoi area.
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 $7
What to pay: Not as cheap as your average souvenir Vietnam shirt but an ideal souvenir for party-going women
Ceramics, Laquerware and Pottery
What to buy: Vietnam is a good place to buy lacquerware, pottery and cermics. We bought this cute little teapot and cups set (in a shopping centre) for just 100,000 VND, which is about 10 SGD. The seller did not have boxes, but she wrapped each piece individually in layers of bubble wrap and newspapers.
NIGHT MARKET: AMAZING ATMOSPHERE
The night market I visited in Ho Chi Minh popped up around Ben Than market at dusk. After dinner at Pho 2000 we had a short walk around the night market The night market was bust with rows of stalls selling T-shirts, clothes, souvenirs and sweet sticky rice (gạo nep). I had a try of the sticky rice even though the Pho (beef noodle soup) was very filling, the rice ws delicious and came in a variety of flavours including aniseed, honey, ginger and nuts.
open every night as the Ben Than market closes.
What to buy: CLOTHES, FOOD AND SOUVENIRS
What to pay: HAGGLE
Bao silk: Saigon shirts.
Bao silk is on De Tham st. right in the backpackers area. I got measured up for 3 short sleeved shirts at 9.00 p.m. and they were ready at 11.00 next morning.
What to buy: These were hand made button-down collared silk shirts.
What to pay: In May 2007 I paid 10$ per shirt, slightly cheaper than I had paid in Hoi An 2 years before.
Workshop Hai: Reproduction Paintings
There are tons of Art reproduction shops around Pham Ngu Lao (backpacker area). I bought a Diego Rivera painting for about $40 from this store (see attached busines card photo). I have also bought paintings from Minh (owner) since i came home and find her to be very reliable and very talented.
What to buy: Bring a good quality A4 copy of a painting from home including details of it's size and medium.
What to pay: Very resonable. I bought a approx 1M sq oil on canvas for €85 including shipping to Ireland but i guess the cost depends on the complexity of the painting.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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