Shopping Vietnam

Vietnam is definitely a bargain hunter's paradise. Here's a list of the kinds of things you can get the best deals on, if you remember to bargain!


Generally speaking, the term "antique" refers to goods designed in an old or traditional style. Genuine antiques -- things more than 100 years old -- require special permission to be taken out of the country. Our advice is to ignore the purported age of an item when negotiating the price, and if the seller insists on an unreasonably high price because of an item's age, ask to see the export permit for the item.

As is probably obvious, prices for "antiques" can be outrageous in places that cater to tourists. Don't be afraid to offer half, a third or even less of the initial asking price, if you think its high. Don't be afraid to walk away if the merchant isn't coming down enough in their price, its the quickest way to get them to change their minds!


Tailor shops also abound in just about every tourist area, especially in Hoi An. You can have shirts, suits, dresses or whatever you can imagine made to order, and often ready within 24 hours. Be wary of shops touted by taxi drivers, etc. They're almost never very good. Another tip is to avoid places offering deals too good to be true, such as a suit for $25. The work is often slipshod. The old maxim really is true: you get what you pay for.


This traditional craft has evolved with the times, although old style goods are still widely available. Some of the nicest items are those with mother of pearl inlaid in the black lacquer. The modern variations include bright metallic finishes that can make a simple piece the focal point of a room.