While visiting Vietnam, you may find it hard to resist throwing yourself headfirst into the shopping scene. Why?

Once you hit the shops in Vietnam, you will quickly discover a huge array of beautiful, colorful gifts and goods. Plus the prices are all very reasonable.

Vietnam bargains are seemingly endless, and since haggling is expected here, you can always talk yourself down to an even lower price — sometimes just 30-50% of the original asking price. Before you know it, bao nhiêu tian? (how much is it?) will be part of your regular Vietnamese vernacular.

Since you cannot bring home one of everything, however, here is your guide to shopping in Vietnam;

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City will be the busiest and most fast-paced shopping experience that you will find in Vietnam. Because it is a large city, you will find ample opportunities to find bargains. Clothing and silks from this area have a reputation for being very high quality.

District 1 is the most popular place to shop, with its many opportunities to purchase jewelry, antiques, handmade ceramic and bamboo goods along with souvenirs such as tee shirts and beaded bags.

If you enjoy bartering and a good bargain, then you should head to the Anh Dong Markets in District 5. This is a great place to find kitchen goods such as rare spices. You may also enjoy the Banh Thanh indoor markets, which are located downtown. The indoor markets are overflowing with traditional goods such as silk slippers and carved figurines as well as souvenirs such as post cards.

Hanoi

The city of Hanoi has opportunities for shopping during both daytime and nighttime hours. If you wish to shop for quality textiles and clothes, Hanoi is a great place to look. At Hanoi’s Dong Xuan Market, a three-story market located in the old quarter, you can purchase lovely silk bags for about $10 The Dong Xuan Market also morphs into a night bazaar on the weekends, making it a social scene as well as a place to buy goods such as tee shirts, wall hangings, and other handicrafts.

If you prefer a cleaner, indoor air-conditioned environment, check out Hanoi Moment on Hang Gai Street.

The country of Vietnam has more ethnic minority groups than any other Asian country — a total of about 54. Within Hanoi, you will have the opportunity to purchase handicrafts such as dolls and clothing made by these different cultures of people. Each group of people has its own distinct way of coloring, embroidering, and weaving fabric.

One thing that you should not leave Hanoi without is a traditional ao dai — a woman’s long silk dress. At some of Hanoi’s silk boutiques you can find gorgeous styles that are designed to combine both traditional Vietnamese and modern Western styles. Two good silk boutiques to shop at are Khai Silk and La Boutique and the Silk.

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay offers a unique shopping experience with its floating shops. Local residents fill small row boats with goods such as potato chips and other little trinkets and snacks. These boats are usually very well organized, so even if you do not buy anything they can be very fascinating to look at and photograph.

The best place to shop in Ha Long Bay is the night market in Bay Chai Town. Here in the open air stalls you can find many excellent traditional Vietnamese goods such as silk ao dais, chopsticks, tea sets, and Vietnamese conical hats, which are called nón las. Most of these stalls accept U.S. currency as well as Vietnamese currency, the Dong.

Stuart