Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sidenote: Shopping in Vietnam

I thought I should add a brief entry on shopping in Vietnam for those interested in women's clothing, accessories, home furnishings and handicrafts. Both Saigon and Hanoi pack in a large number of such retail stores in the central district.

In Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon), the place to go is Dong Khoi Rd, esp. for women's clothing. La Mystere has very nice home furnishings, pillow covers, wall hangings and accessories made by ethnic groups such as the Hmong and Lao. Other retail streets worth checking out: Le Thanh Ton, Nguyen Hue, Le Loi.

HCMC storesHCMC stores

In Hanoi, the main shopping venues are along Na Tho, Na Chung and Hang Gai streets. For instance, Sapa on Hang Gai features accessories and clothing from the Sapa region. The Sofitel Metropole has a nice gift shop called La Boutique (right next to the L'Epicerie bakery in the hotel and off of the interior courtyard).

Hanoi storesHanoi stores

In both cities (esp. Hanoi), art galleries are a surprisingly common sight, especially those who enjoy popular, contemporary painting through a Vietnamese lens. Other types of stores I encountered frequently: embroidery, silk, handicrafts and lacquerware.

For my trip, I bought the Footprint Vietnam guidebook (published in 2007), which was helpful but already outdated in some areas. If you're just visiting the major cities for shopping, restaurants and nightlife, buy the compact and inexpensive Luxe city guide for Hanoi and HCMC. Stores and restaurants turn over fairly frequently and the Luxe city guides are updated more often than guidebooks.


Maverick said...

Wow, that looks like SO much fun! I can't wait to travel a bit more :) Great blog so far!


sleevehead said...

Thanks for visiting, Southeast Asia in general is a great place to visit especially for the shopping angle. Generally very affordable and decent quality if you know what you're looking for.

stupidyank said...

I'm off to Asia this summer and I'm trying to decide between South East Asia and The Indian subcontinent. I Would like to have some suits made (most likely fused or half canvassed, in the 100 - 150 usd range) as well as shoes. Do you have any idea which of these places have better fabrics or tailors? Or, does it really not matter in this price range where I go?

Thanks for the help!


sleevehead said...

I haven't been to India so I can't speak firsthand on the quality of their tailors. However, my impression is that you'll have a greater range of options in terms of price points and quality levels in Southeast Asia (Hong Kong, mainland China, Bangkok, Singapore).

If you're set on the 100-150 USD range, then that logic might break down quite a bit. My hunch is that the quality of the tailoring and fabrics will probably be quite similar at that price point.