Before the TET festival, locals are busy buying up everything they will need during the actual festival days. Prices go up the closer you go to TET and during TET, you are at everyone's mercy so stock up.
What to buy: We bought five liter bottles of water and refiled our smaller bottles to carry around with us. This saved us a lot of money and if you have a fridge in your room, buy some fruits and snacks in case you find yourself with no food during TET.
What to pay: Pay 15,000 dong ($1) for a five liter bottle of water.
You'll find everything under the sky here at cheap, cheap prices. Really, if you've been to Ben Tanh Market in Saigon, this is Hanoi's equivilent. I got pretty silk bags here for less than US10 here. Quite a steal compared to the touristy prices at Hang Gai Street! The reason? This is a wholesale centre!
What to buy: Silk embroidered bags, ao dais, silk ties, silk hankies, etc.
What to pay: Don't pay more than USD10 for a silk bag or USD20 for an ao dai or ao zai. Those conical hats go for USD2 or less.
As mentioned earlier, the Old Quarters becomes a giant shopping street in the weekends!
If you can, stay in a hotel in the Old quarters in the weekends and do your shopping in the evening. It's comparatively less stressful owing to the lack of traffic.
Where:Hong Dao to Dong Xuan Street. After 7pm
What to buy: Cheapie Hats, Gloves, Jackets
What to pay: I paid about US$1 or so for hats and gloves.
Come every Sunday, the main road in the Old Quarters are closed to traffic at night and it becomes a giant shopping street! Even if you don't buy anything, it is a quite a treat to watch the locals shopping at night.
What to buy: Look out for Chinese Brush Paintings and Vietnamese Silk Bags.
What to pay: Don't be a sucker and pay more than USD20 for these items
It's not just one shop, it's a whole street full of silk shops. Each one sells silk clothes as well as the fabric itself so that you can have a shirt or a dress tailored somewhere else. I guess that there are about 60 shops.
What to buy: I propose buying the fabric only - it's possible to have a shirt or anything else tailored in Van Phuc village, but if you know a tailor, go to him or her. However, buying a silk scarf fro Grandma or a silk necktie for Dad cannot be wrong...
What to pay: It's a matter of bargaining - there are not too many tourists in Van Phuc, so prices have stayed relatively low. For the amount of silk that you need for a shirt expect to pay between 50000 and 80000 VND. It's best to come with a Vietnamese friend as they might bargain more successfully. Also, most of the vendors are not speaking English.
While you're shopping at Dong Xuan, you'll be wondering why this spanking new 3 storey complex is standing in the middle of the Old Quarters. Here's why in 1994, the market was destroyed in a fire. 5 sods rushed in to save their goods and died...
If you would like to buy Union Bay, Quicsilver and some local brands clothings, this is the factory outlet that you should go to.
Lots of clothes to choose from and you can even try them out and alter your pants on the spot.
I believe the locals buy their clothing here because prices are reasonable and at a fixed price.
You can get a T-Shirt under 50,000 VND and pants and bermudas under 100,000 VND.
17 Phon Hai Ba Trung
250 Duong Minh Khai 04 8634476
39 Pho Ngo Quyen 04 8251262
What to buy: bermudas
What to pay: less than 10,000 VND per piece
Every weekend during Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after 7pm, the main streets of the Old Quarter area (along Dong Xuan - Hang Duong - Hang Ngang - Hang Dao streets) are transformed into a lively and very crowded night bazaar with plenty of road-side stalls selling various stuff (especially ladies clothings and accesories) and food. This is a must see when you are in Hanoi, however do be careful of your belongings.
Hasfasco is a big shop selling women's clothes, mainly jackets and sweaters at a very cheap price (in fact, among the cheapest in the Old Quarter Area). It is very popular and you can see many local ladies crowding in this shop (the locals will know where the good and cheap stuff are). If you are interested, this shop is located somewhere along the intersection between Hang Dao Street and Cau Go Street just north of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Thuong Mai Trang Tien Shopping Centre is located along Hang Bai Street at the southern area of Hoan Kiem Lake. This is a relatively high class shopping centre as compared to places like the Old Quarter.
This market is basically a general all purpose market catering to locals. There are the odd stalls that might interest tourists like ripp off bags, hats and clothes.. but generally it's just a place to look at the crowds...... (if you can handle them...)
You can find anything you want in the old quarter. There are so many shops around this area. Depends on how you an be fast you can walk from street to street to shop for whatever!
Some suggestions for you:
Hang Gai street: Silk tailoring, souvernirs...
Hang Ma street: Decorations for the holidays
Hang Dao street: Cloths, Watchs, Bags, Shoes...
Hang Dau street: All kind of shoes
Cau Go street: Hairpin, jewellery for hair
and many other streets around!
What to buy: Almost everything!
Hanoi is certainly a shopper's paradise if you want silks, lacquerware, lampshades, wooden Water Puppets etc. One of the best areas we found was in the vicinity of St Joseph's Cathedral - particularly P Ly Quoc Su, the parallel P Hang Trong and its connecting P Nai Tho - lots of thngs to encourage you to part with your cash. But good value too.
Hang Be was another street that was worth wandering along.
What to buy: Silk at the Boutique and the Silk (P Nai Tho)
What to pay: Various
A majority of the street names in the Old Quarter start with the word hang. Hang means merchandise or shop. It used to be that if you were looking to buy a certain craft, you could head to the street with the name of what you were looking for and find it. Today, this is no longer the case. However, if you look hard enough, you will find what you’re looking for.
What to buy: Silk is an excellent item to buy here.
What to pay: How good are you at bartering?
What to buy:
In the area around St Joseph's Cathedral there are many small boutiques with a range of high quality goods, more expensive than the shopping to be found in the Old Quarter, but beautiful.
Homewares, clothing (if you are a size 8!), antiques. While many of the good have markedprices, there is generally some room for negotiation.
General shopping for all sorts of wonderful things is also available in the Old Quarter.
Lacquerware comes in all sorts of qualities: that available in the Old Quarter is generally modern and mass produced, but very fetching.
What to pay: It is hardto remember specific prices, but I recall a silk sleeping bag liner for about $4 US, a carved standstone musician for about $10 US andlots and lots of small thingsat incredibly cheap prices.