Hunting for souvenirs is one of the most essential and exciting parts of traveling.
5 IMPRESSIVE AND USEFUL SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN HO CHI MINH CITY
1. Ao Dai
Traditional, beautiful, flowing Ao Dais are central to Vietnamese ceremonial life. Worn for weddings, festivals and formal occasions, the Ao Dai lends majesty and grace to any wearer. They make a breathtaking gift for anyone with exotic dress sense. However, be careful: Ao Dais are usually made to fit, so make sure you have a rough idea of the recipient’s size, and if in doubt, over-estimate: you can always get it brought in back home. A good option for travellers is to check out the Ao Dai Museum’s Si Hoang Show on Saigon’s walking street Nguyen Hue (Ho Chi Minh City). They also sell magnificent Ao Dais!
2. Non La (Conical Vietnamese Hat)
There is little more iconic and unmistakably Vietnamese than the Non La straw hat. The supporting star of every Vietnamese film of the last 50 years, it is instantly recognizable and, still today, ubiquitous throughout the nation. Our advice is to seek out a market stall selling only Non La, and haggle down to no more than VND 100,000 (maybe less if you have enough patience). Plain Non La are preferable to the gaudy painted variety in tourist traps, so head out to smaller, heartland markets and rummage around with the locals for authentic hats and best prices.
You can easily find Non La in markets in Vietnam.
3. Bamboo Dragonflies
With their ubiquity throughout Vietnam it’s easy to forget that these delicate, simple novelties are unique to the country. Hand-painted and infuriatingly easy to break, they demand extreme care in transit, but get them back in one piece and they will mystify kids with their graceful balance and gentle movement.
Where to buy it: Ben Thanh Market (Ho Chi Minh City).
4. Coffee & Tea
Vietnamese coffee with its unique smell and taste is the ultimate gift for anyone who likes a morning brew. Quintessentially local in flavour but with a universal richness that any coffee lover will enjoy, it can be ground to suit any coffee maker in most shops. However, for an authentic experience, why not buy a Vietnamese coffee filter to go with it, that simple three-part aluminium ensemble that sits on your morning cup of ca phe sua (coffee with condensed milk)? Slightly more expensive stainless-steel gift sets are widely available and provide a functional gift for even the most discerning coffee snob. Trung Nguyen Legend, Phuc Long (coffee and tea), Highlands Coffee and Shin Coffee are the classics for coffee souvenirs.
5. Authentic Ceramics
Ceramic products have long been a typical souvenir of Vietnam. The idyllic life of Vietnamese people is exquisitely portrayed as painted illustrations on these porcelain cups. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There is no doubt these handcrafted items and their production have turned into a tourist attraction for foreigners who are enchanted by Vietnamese culture.
However, transporting these fragile goods can get extremely tricky so we suggest you save your ceramic purchasing to your last day.
Where to buy it: Ben Thanh Market (Ho Chi Minh City). If you do it well, you can pick up a few good bargains which are less than one third of the initial asking price.