Travel tips: Shopping in Vietnam

Best shopping in Vietnam. Including Nguyen Nga Centre, Reaching Out, Villagecraft Planet there are over 141 shops.At Audley, our specialists have local knowledge about the top vietnam places to visit.

Books, stamps and coins

You can buy photocopied editions of almost all the books ever published on Vietnam from strolling vendors in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. There are also an increasing number of locally published coffee-table books, histories and guides available from bona-fide bookshops and the more upmarket hotels. However, if all you want is some general reading matter, both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City now have secondhand bookshops where you can exchange or buy used books.

Philatelists meanwhile will enjoy browsing through the old Indochinese stamps sold in the souvenir shops of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. On Nguyen Thai Hoc street, near temple of literatureKim Ma street… Similarly, old notes and coins, including French-issue piastres and US Army credits, are available.

Memorabilia, trinkets and food

Army surplus gear is still a money-spinner, though fatigues, belts, canteens and dog tags purportedly stolen from a dead or wounded GI aren’t the most tasteful of souvenirs – and the vast majority are fakes anyway. The green pith helmets with a red star on the front, worn first by the NVA during the American War and now by the regular Vietnamese Army, find more takers. Other items that sell like hot cakes, especially in the south, are fake Zippo lighters bearing such pithy adages as “When I die bury me face down, so the whole damn army can kiss my ass” and “We are the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doin’ the unnecessary for the ungrateful”, though again they’re very unlikely to be authentic GI issue. In Ho Chi Minh City, extravagant wooden model ships are sold in a string of shops on Hai Ba Trung, at the east side of Lam Son Square.

Finally, foodstuffs that may tempt you include coffee from the central highlands, candied strawberries and artichoke tea from Da Lat, coconut candies from the Mekong Delta, preserved miniature tangerines from Hoi An and packets of tea and dried herbs and spices from the northern highlands. As for drinks, most of the concoctions itemized in A Traditional Tipple are securely bottled. The Soc Tinh range of rice-distilled liquor makes an attractively packaged souvenir.

Travel tips: A comprehensive list of what to do in hanoi, Vietnam.