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Is Shopping Cheap in Vietnam? What is Famous for Shopping?

A Vietnam tour is not simply about witnessing stunning landscapes and sampling delicious food. Vietnam also offers an enticing variety of unique and cost-effective shopping opportunities.

And with a little research into what the top shopping destinations and souvenirs are—you can return home with affordable treasures that make beautiful gifts or memories of your Vietnam trip! This guide will outline some of the must-shop things in Vietnam, as well as a few optional things to buy in Vietnam.

But before that, is shopping really cheap in Vietnam?

Is Shopping Cheap in Vietnam? How Cheap?

Yes, shopping in Vietnam is renowned for being exceptionally cheap. It is one of the top things to do in Vietnam that you won't miss. The low cost of living throughout Vietnam means merchants and artisans are able to keep their prices very reasonable while still making a decent profit. Exchange rates also favor international tourists.

So, just how cheap is shopping in Vietnam?

Well, prices for everyday items are estimated to be around 60-70% lower than in neighboring countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Electronics, clothing, handicrafts, and food items can frequently be found for half or even a third of their price back home.

When it comes to shopping in Vietnam, a plethora of options await, catering to diverse tastes and budget considerations. Here are some noteworthy places to explore:

● Traditional Markets: Vietnam boasts a plethora of traditional markets where haggling is an art form. Places like Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi's Dong Xuan Market offer a kaleidoscope of goods, from textiles and souvenirs to fresh produce and spices.
● Night Markets: The concept of night markets is prevalent in Vietnam, providing a distinctive shopping experience under the glow of colorful lights. These markets often feature clothing, accessories, and local street food at budget-friendly prices.
● Street Vendors: Beyond the markets, Vietnam's streets teem with portable stalls and vendors. Here, you'll find everything from the latest fashion trends and accessories to snacks. It's a shopper's paradise for spontaneous bargain hunting. Areas like Hanoi's Old Quarter, District 1, and Ho Chi Minh City are ideal for sourcing unique styles on a budget.

Vietnam street vendor.

Must-Shop in Vietnam: Vietnam Coffee, Tea & Fish Sauce

No trip to Vietnam is complete without bringing some of the nation's iconic beverages and condiments back home. Coffee (ca phe), tea (tra), and fish sauce (nuoc mam) are integral to Vietnamese cuisine and culture.

● Coffee: Vietnam is the world's second-largest producer of coffee beans. Ground coffee or whole beans make excellent souvenirs. You can pt for well-known varieties like ca phe sua da from Da Lat.
● Tea: Tea is another popular beverage in Vietnam and has a long history and tradition in the country. Vietnam produces many kinds of tea, such as green tea, black tea, oolong tea, jasmine tea, lotus tea, and herbal tea. Some of the most famous tea regions in Vietnam are Thai Nguyen, Moc Chau, and Bao Loc.
● Fish Sauce: Fish sauce, or nuoc mam, is a staple condiment in Vietnamese cuisine and is used to season, marinate, or dip almost every dish. Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, salt, and water and has a salty, fishy, and umami flavor. Some of the best fish sauce regions in Vietnam are Phu Quoc, Phan Thiet, and Nha Trang.

Must-Shop in Vietnam: Textiles and Clothing, like Ao Dai (Vietnam Traditional Clothes)

Vietnam is a paradise for textile and clothing lovers, as it offers a wide range of products at low prices. You can find anything from traditional fabrics and garments to modern and trendy items.

Some of the popular options include:

● Ao dai: The iconic ao dai (traditional dress in Vietnam) comes highly recommended. This elegant tunic and pants combo can be found in lush silks starting from $30. Hoi An is especially renowned for its tailor-made ao dai.
● Other popular clothing options include conical hats, silk scarves, and pajamas inspired by Vietnam's colonial past. Local markets sell these at highly affordable rates.
● For those wanting to channel their inner fashionista, trendy boutiques in Hanoi and Saigon stock contemporary dresses, tops, and jeans by local designers. Affordable high-street brands also have a strong presence.
● For gift-giving, handicraft textiles like embroidered tablecloths, bags, and wall hangings make beautiful souvenirs. Intricately patterned linens, lace, and fabrics also sell in plenty at night markets and shops nationwide.

With such a vibrant textile culture and affordable prices, it's no surprise clothing tops the list of must-buy items in Vietnam.

Vietnamese traditional dress
The iconic Ao Dai Vietnamese traditional dress.

Must-Shop in Vietnam: Handicrafts like Lacquerware, Hand embroidery, Lanterns, Bamboo, and Wooden Items

Vietnam's handicrafts are beautiful, meaningful souvenirs that share the country's cultural stories. Lacquerware, hand embroidery, lanterns, and bamboo/wooden items are especially notable things to buy in Vietnam.

● Lacquerware is created by applying layers of lacquer resin onto materials like wood or bamboo and then decorating with inlays. This sophisticated art dates back thousands of years. Hanoi is famous for its lacquerware shops.
● Hand embroidery involves intricate stitching of silk, cotton, or linen with colorful threads. It adorns clothing, accessories, and home décor. Quat Dong Village and Hoi An are great places to find these pieces.
● Lanterns symbolize Hoi An, where the full moon lantern festival illuminates the town monthly. Shops sell lanterns of silk, paper, or bamboo in various shapes, like stars and dragons. Visitors can choose to make the Vietnamese lantern by yourself as a souvenir in the lantern making workshop.
● Bamboo and wood are sustainable materials for crafts. Kitchenwares, toys, decor, souvenirs, and musical instruments like flutes and xylophones are commonly made. Craft villages, markets, and stores throughout Vietnam offer these natural items.

Must-Shop in Vietnam: Jewelry and Gemstones

Vietnam is also a treasure trove of jewelry and gemstones, as it has abundant and diverse natural resources, a long history and tradition of craftsmanship, and a vibrant and competitive market. Several notable options include:

● Agate jewelry featuring elegant bands of color and patterns in bracelets and pendants.
● Amethyst pieces like rings and earrings tap into the healing properties this light purple quartz symbolizes.
● Indigenous turquoise that lends an earth-tone pop to necklaces and beads.
● For traditional charm, Jade is carved into elegant figures of frogs and lotus, embodying beauty and prosperity.
● Gold jewelry handcrafted in coastal cities like Hanoi and Saigon offers modern designs alongside classic motifs.

With its abundance of precious gemstones, metals, and skilled artisans, Vietnam offers visitors the chance to bring home high-quality, meaningful jewelry as memorable souvenirs. The pieces increase in value as keepsakes of their travels through this culturally rich country.

Vietnam Indigenous turquoise necklaces
Vietnam Indigenous turquoise necklaces.

Optional Shopping in Vietnam: Propaganda Poster

If you are interested in the history and culture of Vietnam, especially during the war period, you may want to shop for some propaganda posters. Vietnam's propaganda poster art is world-renowned for its powerful graphic designs and socialist-realist styles.

These posters are colorful and striking artworks that convey various political and social messages, such as patriotism, resistance, solidarity, peace, and progress. They also reflect the artistic styles and influences of different periods and regions of Vietnam.

Hanoi's Fine Arts Museum store sells high-quality posters, as do specialist shops around the city. Prices range from $5 for small reproductions to $50 for large vintage originals.

Vietnam propaganda poster.

Optional Shopping in Vietnam: Ceramic Figurine

If you are looking for some charming and artistic souvenirs from Vietnam, you may want to shop for some ceramic figurines. Vietnam has a long tradition of ceramic handiwork, with styles varying regionally. Some of the most famous ceramic styles are Bat Trang, Chu Dau, Phu Lang, and Bien Hoa.

Figurines depict rural scenes, mythology, or people. Quality pieces can be found in Hoi An for $10-30, depending on size and detail. Larger one-of-a-kind sculptures may cost $100-500. Beyond souvenirs, ceramic art also makes affordable decorative accents for homes. The glazed sculptures are beautifully crafted and capture Vietnamese culture.

Vietnam Ceramic Figurine
Vietnam Ceramic Figurine.

Optional Shopping in Vietnam: Vietnamese Conical Hat (Non-La)

Another one of the most iconic and recognizable items of Vietnamese culture is the conical hat, or non la. This hat is made of palm leaves, bamboo, and rattan and has a pointed shape that covers the head and shades the face.

The non la is a practical accessory that protects the wearer from the sun and rain. The non la also has a cultural and artistic value, as it is often decorated with poems, paintings, or embroidery and used in traditional dances and performances.

You can buy a non-La from many places in Vietnam, such as markets, craft villages, or souvenir shops. Some of the most famous places to buy a non-la are:

● Chuong village in Hanoi.
● Tay Ho village in Hue.
● Hoi, an ancient town in Quang Nam.

Vietnamese Conical Hat
Vietnamese Conical Hat.

Optional Shopping in Vietnam: Musical Instruments

Vietnam has a rich and diverse musical heritage, which is reflected in its many traditional musical instruments. These instruments are made of various materials, such as wood, bamboo, metal, or animal skin, and produce different sounds and melodies. Some of the most popular musical instruments in Vietnam are:

● Dan Bau: A monochord zither that produces a haunting and expressive sound by bending a single string with a wooden rod.
● Dan tranh: a long zither with 16 to 19 metal strings that are plucked with the fingers or plectrums.
● Dan nhi: a two-stringed vertical fiddle that is played with a bow and has a coconut shell resonator.
● Sao truc: a bamboo flute that is played by blowing across a hole at one end and covering finger holes along the body.
● Ken: a double-reed oboe that has a conical or cylindrical shape and a wooden or metal bell.

You can shop for these musical instruments in many places in Vietnam, such as music stores, markets, or specialty shops. Some of the best places to buy musical instruments are :

● Hao Nam Street in Hanoi,
● Nguyen Thien Thuat Street in Ho Chi Minh City
● Hoi An ancient town in Quang Nam.

Vietnamese Musical Instruments
Vietnamese Musical Instruments of Hao Nam Street in Hanoi.

Local Tips for Shopping in Vietnam

Shopping in Vietnamese markets requires a different approach. Here are some tips for savvy local shopping:

● Bargain respectfully for a better price, but don't insult the seller's first offer. Small talks help negotiations.
● Check quality and materials closely. Avoid items claiming to be of higher value than they are.
● Market stalls keep long hours, so go in the morning or evening for the most activity and selection.
● Cash is king in Vietnam. Have small bills to pay exact amounts.
● Ask locals for recommendations of neighborhood stores or stalls with fair prices.
● Don't touch merchandise without permission. Vietnamese shops tend to keep goods in neat order.

With some cultural context, a Vietnam shopping tour becomes a fun way to find authentic items and interactions.

Wrapping Up

Shopping is an integral part of the Vietnamese travel experience. And to make the most of your shopping excursion in this culturally rich country, it is highly recommended to partner with a local expert.

At, our guides have insider tips on where to locate the finest handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, and pantry items at the most competitive rates. By booking a tour through us, you can maximize your shopping potential while gaining meaningful cultural experiences. Get in touch with us for more details!

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