No matter you like to travel with small bag or big luggage, most probably you still buy some “touchable memories” (souvenirs) from visited places? Some of us have collection of fridge magnets, other brings whatever they like or something specific only from that country. Personally, I like to bring something small and practical, what can be used in daily life. For example carved tray for cup from specific village, candlestick from specific that place materials and etc. (depends what I’m missing at that moment at home).
Here are the lists of MUST and MAYBE (as well specific ones) souvenirs from Vietnam that you can consider to bring back home. It’s based on my personal suggestions from what I saw in the streets and what recommended my Vietnamese friends.
MUST souvenirs from Vietnam
Even if you can buy it in Thailand, Malaysia as well (like those countries “unique” souvenirs) but if you are in Vietnam you should think to buy a scarf, silk painting (is quite unique, an iconic art form in Vietnam) or even suit the clothes from silk (tailor can suite it during ~15 hours).
Silk in Vietnam is made on traditional hand looms. You can find beautiful patterns, different colors and sizes. Even if you can buy silk anywhere in Vietnam but one of the best places are Hoi An city, silk village Van Phuc (near Hanoi). The price will be better, more options and quicker service (sewing). Prices begin at about $ 3.00/per meter for 90 cm wide material.
Is special in its style of using resin from son tree. It’s said that high quality lacquer products go through 20 stages of development and can be used to craft dishes, bowls, vases, and more in beautiful colors and intricate designs. Very special is lacquer paintings – sơn mài. Prices begin at $ 1.00 for a small dish, $ 3.00 for a large dish and etc.
An art passed down from ages, embroiders in Vietnam make use of Chinese techniques mostly. Become a master in this art can take 8-10 years. If you are visiting Sa Pa – you can buy really exclusive embroidered clothes, scarfs, small bags and etc. from different villages. You can see how it’s made straight in your eyes in the evening market in the main square. A good pair of pillow cases or a set of bed linen, both on a white cotton base, should cost around $ 6.00.
DO PAPER postcards, notebooks
“Do” paper is made from the bark of the Do tree, a wild plant commonly found around local riverbanks. It was popular for many years before the modern paper came. Now Do paper is only used to make Hanoi’s ethnic greetings cards, water color, folk paintings and bamboo-bound notebooks. Do paper cards with embroidered squares, hemp covered notebooks cost more or less $ 2.00, bamboo bound notebooks are from $ 1.50. Better to search in book stores.
GUOC MOC (wooden clogs)
Are traditional footwear for males and females in Vietnam. Before females were wearing these with the traditional Ao Dai dress. Now it’s not so traditional wear, but you can still buy these in stores. I saw some such clogs in Bangkok as well but it looked like brought from Vietnam.
AO DAI dress
Recognized as a national wear for females in Vietnam. It’s a tight-fitted long dress worn over long pants. The Ao Dai costs about $32.00 for a plain finished product. If you want a more detailed or custom made Ao Dai, you can buy some fabric and have a tailor make it for about $70.00.
There’s not too much “wine” – the snake is infused in grain alcohol – but you get exotic view. Bottle cost ~ $20.00.
BOOK “Que Huong my homeland Vietnam” by Nguyen Manh Dan
It’s a book of photographs of Vietnam by Vietnamese photographers and you will find there Vietnamese songs, poetry written in English, Vietnamese. Unfortunately how hard I was trying to find it in Hanoi book street (even with local person) – didn’t manage. If you will be lucky to find it, I think you will be very happy to have it.
MAYBE souvenirs from Vietnam
If you like to travel in Asia or plan new trip there, I suggest considering maybe not to buy in Vietnam souvenirs which I’m mentioning below. You can find them in other Asian countries as well (in some countries even cheaper).
You can easily find ceramic vases, lacquer vases and more such variety in a plethora of sizes, shapes and colors. A good quality plate costs ~ $2.00. Can be an idea to buy small tea cup set. But ceramic you can bring from any other country as well: Indonesia (for example in Yogyakarta there is area Kasongan, where most crafts are from ceramic), Thailand and etc.
BAMBOO AND WOODEN PRODUCTS
You can buy beautifully carved bamboo hats or salad bowls, trays, baskets and more such items made out of bamboo and wood. Apart from being cheaper alternatives they are also eco-friendly. It’s cost from $13.00 to $45.00. But the same you can buy in any other Asian country where bamboo is growing, for example in Thailand it will be cheaper.
Referred as leaf hat or non la, these are a symbol of Vietnam and can be seen on drums as old as 3000 years. The same can be used as an umbrella during rains and sun protector during summers. Such hats but with different names you can buy anywhere where are rice paddies: Indonesia, Thailand and etc.
How not to buy a small package of rice from rice country? Brown, white, different shape, mixed and etc. The price will be ridiculous and straight from the rice paddies. But the same you can buy in any other “rice” country.
Good quality tea can be bought in specialist shops in the large cities. Kilo of top-quality tea can cost ~ $8.00, if lightly flavored ~$5.00, without flavoring ~$2.00. But in each other country you can buy tea as well: Japan, Indonesia, China and etc.
Even if Vietnamese coffee quite famous for its preparation and taste (strong, instead of sugar they put condensing milk) but you can enjoy it in the coffee shops in Vietnam. To buy it like souvenir you can but then need to buy special tools to prepare it in right way. Good quality “Trung Nguyen” coffee 1 kilo Robusta beans costs ~ $4.00, Arabica will be more expensive.
But as well in Indonesia you can buy coffee, even more popular one, the most expensive in the world “Kopi Luwak”.
HANDMADE WOVEN PRODUCTS
For example in Vietnam scarf cost ~$2.00. A garment, such as a woven, embroidered or appliqued jacket, can cost from ~ $15.00. But handmade woven products you can buy in any other Asian country (for example Indonesia, Lombok island).
Other popular souvenirs from Vietnam. Mostly jewelers are made of local gemstones. But the same things you can buy in Indonesia as well, where gemstones really popular and one of the places for pearls can be in Lombok island near port to Gili Meno, Air or Trawangan islands.
If you want to buy Asian style pans or other clothes, before buying it check if it’s really made in Vietnam. I had experience when bought pans in Vietnam and in Indonesia met girl with the same pattern dress what she bought in Thailand. Conclusion that all things made in China. By the way in Thailand clothes are much cheaper than in Vietnam.
Specific souvenirs from Vietnam for specific interests
- WAR SOUVENIRS – you can buy coins, zippers and other old things that remains war time in Vietnam.
- MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS – here you can buy bamboo flute and miniature bamboo xylophone.
- INSTANT NOODLES – like I live in Indonesia where instant noodles is eaten everywhere. I wanted to bring my friends in Indonesia try Vietnamese instant noodles. It’s really different from Indonesian ones or those that you can buy in Europe.
- FAKE THINGS – some people like to buy famous brands fake copies. Here you can find whatever you want.
- CARVED WOODEN STAMPS – you can optionally require craftsmen to carve the characters that you liked or a meaningful icon. If you are not too picky, just select the template and change some details or even purchase the stamps which have been carved already here. It can be great souvenir for friends with their name letter. It’s not so practical but fun.
- VIETNAMESE JACKET – nowhere else I saw such jacket – mostly it used driving on motorbike, but can be used in daily life as well. Can be quite unique gift (you can choose different colors, materials).
Of course you can buy as well other souvenirs from Vietnam: magnets, stamps, postcards, traditional music CD. But buy them not in touristic places, go to bookshops and smaller shops out of touristic areas.
Here some tips how to buy souvenirs from Vietnam and 10 best shopping places in Hanoi:
- Hang Gai Street (Silk Street)
- Hanoi Weekend Night Market
- Dong Xuan Market
- Trang Tien Plaza
- Hang Bac Street (Silver Street)
- Hang Dau Street
- As well Nha Tho Street, Do Manh Cuong Boutique, Thanh Binh Gallery, Hang Da Shopping Mall (Hanoi Square)
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
- Found some other souvenirs from Vietnam that is worth to buy? Share with us
- What kind of souvenirs you like to bring from your travels?
- Is Vietnam in your bucketlist? What you would like to see, do or try there?