Souvenirs is one of the things that bother many of us on our vacation. Our family needs something special, something typical of the local for our colleagues and neighbors, and then there is all these friends of our kids. Where do we buy all of these things in a place we just arrive for the first time? How do we manage to buy something for everyone while still keep it under our budget? Here’s are some local insights for buying souvenirs in Hanoi.
1. Popular souvenirs to buy in Hanoi.
There are a lot to choose from, varying from foods and beverage like coffee, sweetened fruits (Vietnamese ô mai) to small utilities like postcards, bamboo bookmarks, key rings, little doll magnets in Vietnamese traditional dress, decor lacquers, etc. Silk and hand-embroidery is a also a choice if you are looking for something more special (and more expensive). There is also the unique communist propaganda you may find interesting.
2. The souvenir shops at tourist attraction sites is not recommended.
Almost everything displayed in the souvenir shops in the Temple of Literature, Museums, Ho Chi Minh complex… can easily be found in the Old Quarter and Dong Xuan Market at lower prices and wider varieties. Plus as it is highly likely that your hotel is in the Old Quarter, it is a good idea to have a walk around and buy your souvenirs on the way.
3. Bargain, bargain and bargain.
Whether it is the street vendors or the souvenir shops or in Dong Xuan Market, prices are often quoted at 30-50% higher so it is crucial that you bargain. (Some clothes shop, however, attach fixed price tag on their items and you cannot negotiate in that case)
4. Make quick decisions.
Most of the souvenir shops offer same items at somewhat same prices so unless you have a lot of time, it does not worth wandering about looking for the best color. Choose a big shop, find anything you need, and make purchase (after bargaining of course), you would likely get a cash discount.
5. Recommended addresses
- Coffee: 99 Hang Buom street (Kim Lai coffee shop).
There are various kinds of coffee including the famous Weasel Coffee. Even if you do not buy anything, you can always have a cup of coffee here.
- Sweetened fruits (Ô mai): 11 Hang Duong street (Hong Lam Store).
The name is translated as sweetened fruits but it actually comes in all taste: sweet, sour, salty, spicy… You can choose among several popular fruits: apricot, plum, peach, kumquat, mango, star fruit, tamarind and even kiwi.
- Silk and embroidery: A good selection of shops along Hang Gai street.
– 61 Hang Gai (Tan My Design). Handmade design products including home ware, clothing, accessories, Christmas decors. Price ranges from $8 – $60.
– 96 Hang Gai (Khai Silk). The largest silk retailer in Vietnam, Khai Silk offers clothes and accessories for both men and women.
- Small utilities and house decors: You would likely find them on any street in the old quarter including Ly Quoc Su, Dinh Liet, Ta Hien, Ma May and also Dong Xuan market. A recommended place is Mask Arts at 40 Dinh Liet street.
- Propaganda: 110 Hang Bac street (Old Propagander Poster shop). A wide variety of reproductions of the propagandas during the Vietnam war with their typically Soviet style and colors.
- Pictures: Pictures is not a popular souvenir considering the problem of transporting them to your home but if you are interested, there are a lot of galleries along Trang Tien street.