What to buy in Vietnam?

An important part of travelling is finding that elusive souvenir that will remind you for years of the wonderful experience you have, or getting delightful presents that will surprise and please family and friends.

 

Vietnam offers an abundance of special souvenirs to bring home, including food, handicraft products, home decoration, clothes and accessories. With so many choices, sometimes it is hard to decide what to buy in Vietnam. Here we give you the top 9 things to buy in Vietnam. Check it out:

 

1. Silk

 

Vietnamese people have been making silk for centuries and the skills developed through experience produce some of the best silk fabrics in the world. The quality of silk depends on many factors, from the quality of mulberry leaves fed to silkworms, the skills to unravelling the silk threads from the silkworms, and then weaving. Many of these processes are still done by hand in Vietnam which makes each piece of silk fabric unique.

 

Silk is also normally made by artisans who learnt their craft from their parents, the skills and experience are passed from one generation to the other. And these artisans normally live in the same area or village for support and shared experience and knowledge. The silk from Ha Dong village is among the best in the North and Hoi An village in the middle of Vietnam for generations made silk to dress royal families.

 

There are many tailor shops in Ha Noi, Hoi An and Hochiminh City who could make clothes from silk for you within a short period of time. One of the popular dress made from silk is the Vietnamese national costume, ao dai.

 

Tips to distinguish between fake and real silk
Real silk when is gently burnt will produce a smell like the burning of natural hair. While fake silk made from polyester will have a unpleasant artificial smell and leave hard black beads.

2. Ao dai:

 

The famous Vietnamese national costume, ao dai, is one of the most popular souvenir of Vietnam, especially if they are made from real silk. Vietnamese tailors who line Hang Gai Street in Hanoi, or in Hoi An or Hochiminh City, can produce some handmade ao dai for you within a couple of days.

 

These days the design of ao dai has been modernised to fit many body shapes, and with many fabric print designs, ao dai has become a fashion item desired by many visitors to Vietnam.

what to buy in vietnam - Ao dai

3. Pottery:

 

Pottery is another traditional craft in Vietnam that was developed through centuries of skills being passed down from one generation to the other. There are many villages in Vietnam where pottery making is the dominant trade of the whole village. These are Bat Trang village near Ha noi, Phuoc Tich in Hue and Thanh Ha in Hoi An.

 

It is a real treat to walk around these villages and see the pottery artisans perfect their craft with great skills and attention to details. Once you are there you can buy products directly from the makers in these villages.

 

If your time is limited, there are also many shops in touristy areas that sell Vietnamese pottery, from vases, bowls, dishes, cups with elegantly beautiful shapes, colours and patterns. If you choose to buy a piece, the shops can pack the products nice and neat for you to easily bring home on your flights.

4. Ethnic handicraft products

 

Throughout Vietnam, visitors could find many shops selling handicraft items made by Vietnamese minority groups. Their unique cultures are translated into scarves, bags, clothes that are colourful and full of interesting patterns. These handcraft products are true showcase of Vietnamese diverse culture.

 

Better still, if you have time, we recommend you to travel to areas where these ethnic groups live. The northern mountainsof Vietnam are among those areas. There you will get not only beautiful local products made by many different ethnic groups living there, you will also get to experience their very unique cultures and food, first hand.

 

5. Embroidery products

 

Embroidery is another skill mastered by the Vietnamese through centuries of practice. You can buy many embroidery products to take home for your own use or as presents, whether they are table cloths, quilts, bed throws, pillowcase, napkins, cosmetic bags or night dresses.

 

The more quality embroidery products are made on Vietnamese linen or cotton fabrics.

 

Some Vietnamese companies, such as XQ, has elevated embroidery to a form of arts by producing true piece of artworks on fabrics through embroidery.

 

Anybody who appreciates hard work and culture will definitely like these beautiful handmade gifts.

 

6. Vietnamese paintings

 

Many Vietnamese artists choose the colourful everyday life of the Vietnamese to depict in their paintings. The rugged landscaped of the houses lined the street of Hanoi, the beautiful bright colour flowers typical to the tropical climate of Vietnam, a tender moment of a Vietnamese lady admiring a fragile flower, all of these moment are often captured by Vietnamese artists through the strokes of their paint brushes.

 

There are shops and shops lined the streets of in popular touristy area full of Vietnamese paintings. There are so many choices for you to choose, or you could commission the artists to draw something that catches your attention.

 

There are also more upmarket art galleries with true unique and outstanding art pieces of Vietnamese artists.

 

7. Lacquerware

 

Lacquer-making is another form century old handicraft skills in Vietnam. They were made into decorative wall panels, jewellery boxes, bowls, vases and dishes. Lacquerware album books could be a delightful presents to your family and friends.

 

8. Prints of old propaganda slogans

 

One of the aspects of Vietnamese history is their propaganda slogans and how they were depicted into print posters. These posters were very unique to Vietnam and its history and many of the posters were painted by some of Vietnam’s most renowned artists.

 

Owing one of these posters is like owing a piece of Vietnam unique history.

 

It is hard to get an original poster but there are many reprinted ones sold in popular touristy areas in most of major cities of Vietnam.

 

9. Coffee

 

One of the most long-lasting influence from the French colonial time on Vietnamese culture is coffee. Vietnam is the second largest producer of the World’s coffee, only behind Brazil. Lots of coffee grown in Vietnam is for export but much of it is consumed locally. Vietnamese love their coffee.

 

Vietnamese commonly make their coffee in a special filter that drips coffee slowly down to a cup. Then they add either sugar, or condensed milk for sweetness. Our favourite way to enjoy coffee is ca phe sua da, coffee mixed with condensed milk and ice, a perfect thirst quencher for the hot and humid Vietnam weather.

 

Visitors can easily grab a bag of coffee powder from a tourist shop at the airports on their way out of the country. Adding a Vietnamese coffee filter, you will have a unique and delightful present for any friends and family members.

 

10. Tea

 

Tea is another favourite beverage of Vietnamese. Tea is sipped when Vietnamese first wake up in the morning, during the day, after a meal. It is always offered to guests as the first ice breaker for any meeting.

 

There are three main forms of tea enjoyed in Vietnam. Green tea (tra xanh) is referred to tea made from fresh tea leaves steeped in hot water. Plain black tea (tra man) is the equivalent to Western Green tea, only stronger. And scented tea which is tea infused with various scents. The most favourite are jasmine tea (tra nhai) and lotus tea (tra sen). The best scented tea are made from a long process of infusing scents from real flowers into tea.

 

Facts: It is known as the lotus flowers from the West Lake in Hanoi has the most pungent smell and tea infused with West Lake lotus flowers is highly prized in Vietnam. The traditional way of making lotus tea is to wrap tea inside a lotus flowers for 7 times.

 

Vietnam and its diverse culture means that there are many exciting things you want to take home once you visit the country. Whatever you choose to take home, you will treasure them for life, not only because of the quality of the souvenirs, but also because of the memories embedded in them.