Vietnam Shopping Guide

Shopping is surely one of the top things to do in Vietnam. Vietnam is a shopper’s paradise. Food, souvenirs, clothing, and artwork are just a few of the great things to buy in Vietnam. This guide will introduce you to some of the many fantastic items that are available for purchase.

You'll probably want to spend a few afternoons exploring some of the country's most interesting and unique Vietnam markets. Each region of the country – north, central, and south – has a distinct heritage, traditions, and handcrafted goods. As a result, almost every traveler enjoys shopping in Vietnam.

Here's everything you need to know about shopping in Vietnam: the currency, local customs, and the top 10 best things to buy. So, when you arrive, you can focus solely on what to buy in Vietnam.

Local Currency

Vietnam’s currency is known as the Dong and its symbol is ₫. At the time of writing this, 1$ equals about 22,890 ₫.

Believe it or not, many Vietnamese markets, restaurants, and shopping centers also accept U.S. Dollars. However, you shouldn’t expect to pay the same exchange rate. An item might cost the equivalent of $2 if you pay in Dong but $10 if you pay in USD. It’s totally up to the vendor what they want to charge in each currency. It’s worth mentioning that although shops may accept foreign currency, it is illegal for vendors to list or ask for payment in anything other than the Vietnamese Dong.

First-time travellers to Vietnam may find it difficult to know what ‘good’ prices are, so here are some tips:

  • Make sure you bring your bartering skills – this may seem a little strange at first but this is the norm in Southeast Asian culture. A rule of thumb is to pay around 40-50% of the first price offered. Always ask how much one item would cost first, then try to see if you can get a deal when buying two or more items.
  • For Vietnam souvenir items, don’t buy them from the first place you see. Scope out the prices that the other stores are offering first. The chances are, the same or a very similar item will be available at the same market.

Top 10 best things to buy when travelling to Vietnam


  1. Food

You can’t go to Vietnam without feasting away at the amazing dishes they have to offer. Even better, Vietnamese cuisine is amongst the healthiest in the world, utilising fresh herbs and vegetables. You won’t feel bloated after a meal which means you can get up straight after your meal and enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Fresh Spring Rolls – Goi Cuon

This Vietnamese delight is a healthier alternative to the deep fried spring roll. Typically, the rice paper roll is filled with vegetables, vermicelli noodles, pork and prawn.

Beef Noodle Soup – Pho Bo

Pho is the most recognised Vietnamese cuisine worldwide consisting of rice noodles, broth and beef or chicken. When served, you’ll get a side plate of herbs and chilli.

Sizzling Pancake – Banh Xeo

Banh xeo, or the sizzling pancake, got its name for the sound the batter makes when poured onto a pan. The pancake is made from rice flour, water and turmeric to give it the characteristic yellow colouring. The pancake may have meat or may be served vegetarian. You will be given a plate of herbs, mostly mint and lettuce.

To eat the pancake, tear a piece off and wrap the lettuce around it. The crunch from both the crisp lettuce and pancake add to the experience.

Vietnamese-style Baguette – Banh Mi

Banh Mi perfectly combines French influence with Vietnamese cuisine. The baguette is filled with meat, pork being the most common, paté and vegetables such as cucumber and pickled carrots. They are finished with chilli, coriander and mayonnaise.

Grilled Pork and Noodles- Bun Cha

Bun cha is another amazing noodle dish. Consisting of white rice noodles and grilled pork. Occasionally it may be served with pork belly, but our favourite version is with pork meatballs. You’ll be served a side of herbs to put into your noodle dish and dipping sauce.


  1. Tailored Clothing

Vietnam is well-known for its low-cost tailored clothing, making it an excellent alternative to clothing shopping. The price is heavily influenced by the quality.

When it comes to tailoring, you truly get what you pay for. Sure, you can get clothing made for ridiculously low prices, but the material quality and workmanship suffer as a result. Simple, well-made clothing may be all you need, and if so, you can save a lot of money by going that route. We recommend going somewhere with great reviews and quality materials for suits, evening gowns, and work attire.

Before you get anything made, talk about your pricing strategy. This way, you'll know exactly how much you're going to have to pay at the end. When getting multiple garments made at budget tailors, you may be able to barter for a discount, but this is frowned upon in higher-end stores.


  1. Vietnamese Coffee Grounds and Phin Filter

Trying Vietnamese coffee is a must-do during your visit. Vietnam is the world's largest producer of Robusta coffee beans. This gives the coffee a distinct flavor that differs from the Arabica bean flavor that many people are accustomed to.

Even if you're not a big coffee fan, give one a try. An iced coffee can be purchased for as little as 20k VND and is a great way to start the day.

Vietnamese coffee grounds and a phin filter are the perfect gift for coffee lovers. Bring some back for yourself in case you get the post-holiday blues.


  1. Lanterns

Plastic lanterns with a single color are very inexpensive to purchase. We'd spend a little more and get the hand-painted wooden lanterns. There are many ornate designs to choose from, and they can fold down, making packing easier and allowing you to purchase a larger lantern.

Without a doubt, the best place to buy lanterns is in Hoi An. A town decked out in lanterns is a sight to behold. The lanterns then illuminate the night sky.


  1. Paintings

Each painting is filled with vibrant colors and tells a story. When you see the locals painting these on the streets, you can see how much time and effort goes into each piece, as well as the attention to detail that is required. This is one of the most popular items to buy in Vietnam.

The best places to buy paintings in Hoi An are on the streets or in small boutique shops. Many locals can be seen painting their works of art while sitting outside their shops or on the streets of Hoi An's Old Quarter. We also saw many beautiful pieces in small shops in Hoi An and Hanoi.


  1. Conical Hat

The conical hat, also known as the farmer's hat, is a symbol of agriculture in Vietnam. The conical hat is still worn by rice farmers and city dwellers alike today. It provides excellent sun protection from the Southeast Asian heat and also doubles as a rain hat to keep light rain out.

Because of the shape, it is difficult to carry your luggage, so wearing it on flights or when traveling between accommodations is a great idea.

Bring these home for your green-fingered friends – this hat is a great way to protect yourself from the sun while gardening.


  1. Ao Dai

The traditional Vietnamese costume is known as ao dai. The outfit consists of a long sleeved dress with slits from the hips to the floor. Flowy pants are worn underneath.

The cost of the costume varies a lot. If you want a custom-made Ao dai made of high-quality silks, you may have to pay more than four times the price of one found in a popular tourist market.

There is a wide range of colors, designs, and sizes to suit everyone. As a result, the Ao dai makes an excellent gift for family and friends back home.


  1. Lacquerwares

In Vietnam, lacquerware ranges from crockery to miniature statues to jewelry boxes and everything in between. The bowls made from coconut shells are by far our favorites. The outside of the shell has been left natural, while the inside has been hand painted with vibrant designs and mosaics. They're ideal for using as a smoothie bowl!


  1. Coconut Candy

Southern Vietnam's sweet treats are a must-try. Coconut candy with a hint of sweetness is wrapped in a thin, edible rice paper layer, which adds to the texture of the treat. There are numerous flavors to choose from, in addition to the original flavor. If you're feeling brave, try the durian flavor!


  1. Embroidery

Embroidery art is abundant in Vietnam and makes excellent souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home because it doesn't take up much room in your suitcase. There is a huge selection of products to choose from, so you're sure to find something you like. Pillowcases, table runners, handbags, patchwork animal doorstops, bed sheets, clothing, and scarves are just a few examples.

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