Clothing varies greatly from tourist T-shirts to beaded handbags and traditional ao dai (the traditional costume) made to fit your size. Items made from silk are a popular buy, with prices varying depending on the material and tailor. Pre-made traditional dresses are sold in many places. However, it is more recommended to have the dress made to fit your body, which takes more time and slightly more money.
Shoes, slippers and handbags made from traditional materials (silk and bamboo) can also become unique gifts and accessories.
The Vietnamese traditional conical hat, can be found everywhere throughout the country, but hats made in Hue are most famous as they have a poem embroided on the inside.
Gems and jewelry
Vietnam is rich in gemstones. The jewelry business is also increasing during current years, and sophisticated works are produced by both big businesses and traditional craftsmen. The quality of the gemstones sold is sometimes doubtable, so it is recommended that you buy gems at prestigious locations and be ware with cheap prices.
Most war souvenirs sold today in Vietnam (for example, Zippo lighters engraved with platoon philosophy) are fake reproductions. Be careful while transporting these items as many airlines do not allow weapons, even fakes to be carried on their planes.
Other popular handicrafts in Vietnam include lacquer ware, wood-block prints, and oil and watercolor paintings, blinds made from bamboo, reed mats, carpets, and leatherwork.
Coffee and Tea
Vietnamese coffee is unique, and comes in a wide selection of flavors, including vanilla, anise, and chocolate. There are three varieties of coffee – Arabica, Robusta, and Weasel. While Arabica is the most expensive and richest, Robusta is cheaper. Weasel is also an expensive coffee made from coffee cherries eaten and regurgitated by chons, rare Vietnamese Weasels.
Vietnamese tea is a green tea scented with lotus flower. The best place to buy coffee or tea is at markets such as Ben Thanh in Ho Chi Minh City or Dong Xuan in Hanoi. Street vendors also sell them but overcharge.
Arts and Crafts
Traditional arts and crafts are produced almost everywhere in Vietnam. Exquisitely embroidered linen, intricately carved artifacts and figurines, colorful silken lanterns, as well as stylized paintings are just some of the specialties available. For fine textiles, especially good quality, hand-embroidered silk by French and Japanese artists, visit Chi Vang in Hanoi. Also check out Tan My for gorgeous, hand-embroidered tablecloths, throws, and quilts. Lan Handicrafts also carries fine textiles, made by people with disabilities specifically for this non-profit outlet. A similar operation in Hoi An is at Hoa Nhap Handicrafts. Dong Khoi district in Ho Chi Minh City is home to many silk merchants such as Bao Nghi, which also carries linen and other fabrics.
Hill-tribe handicrafts made by ethnic minorities are available in Ho Chi Minh City at Sapa outlet, which offers a range of hand-woven clothing, embroidered silks and footwear. In Hanoi, Craft Linh, Viet Hien, and Craft Window offer a wide selection of handicrafts, while in Hoi An, House of Traditional Handicrafts and Handicraft Workshop are good. For pottery, tableware, and silk lamps, walk through Hoi An’s streets, which are lined with many shops selling such items. Some great ceramics – tea sets, vases, and bowls – are available at Em Em in Ho Chi Minh City. In Hanoi, Khai Silk gets rave reviews, especially for formal attire, while Hanoi Silk can tailor suits in 24 hours. For an excellent row of silk shops, walk down Hang Gai street. Traditional clothing and silver jewelry can be found at La Boutique and the Silk. In Ho Chi Minh City, H&D Tailors makes outfits for men, and women can get Ao Dai, a traditional Vietnamese dress, made at Ao Dai Si Hoang.
Furniture is regarded as an art form in Vietnam. Most of what is available is finely wrought hardwood, often inlaid with mother of pearl or richly carved. Special orders are gladly taken, and most shops also arrange to ship your purchases home. In Ho Chi Minh City, Furniture Outlet offer some of the best pieces and prices, while Tien An carries light furniture, specializing in bamboo chairs, cabinets, and grass mats. Do Kim Dung features a line of cast-and-wrought iron furniture, and The Lost Art offers antique pieces and reproductions. In Hanoi, Viet Hien carries a range of furnishings. And in Hoi An, Kim Bong Carpentry can make furniture to order from a photograph.
Lacquer-ware and Ceramics.
Vietnam is famous for its lacquer ware and ceramics, such as decorative pieces, tea sets, vases, bowls, plates, trays, and paintings to name a few. Some lacquer products feature an amazingly delicate inlay of eggshells or mother of pearl, while several ceramic pieces bear intricate designs. Jewelry boxes are also commonly rendered in lacquer. In Ho Chi Minh City, the noteworthy Nga Shop carries works by renowned designer Michele De Alberts. Quang’s Ceramics in Hanoi has a splendid collection, and Le Duan street also has some good shops. In Hoi An, there are many such shops selling traditional Vietnamese goods.