Upon travelling to Vietnam, as any other tourist destinations in the world, you may wonder about what souvenirs to buy and where to find the best ones. Vietnam has a highly versatile culture and has still preserved its traditional crafts for centuries. Hence, there are a large variety of souvenir options apart from food gifts available for choosing.
Regardless of being a first-time traveller, you probably have learned a thing or two about Vietnamese traditional products. Keep reading and we will guide you through our list of the most authentic and unique souvenirs in Vietnam and where to buy them with guaranteed quality at a reasonable price.
If the Japanese have Kimono, the Korean have Hanbok, the Chinese have Cheongsam,… then the Vietnamese have Ao dai. It has been the Vietnamese traditional clothing for centuries.
Ao dai is tailored for both men and women. Simply described, it consists of a long dress worn over long pants. While ao dai is tight-fitted for women to accentuate their curves, a looser fit is available for men. In the past, they wore casual ao dai in daily life and more sophisticated designs on special occasions.
Ao dai is fairly well-known among foreigners and has become one of the symbols of Vietnam as it reflects the country’s beauty charmingly. Therefore, it is no wonder every visitor visiting Vietnam would love to get their own “ao dai”.
Luckily, you can find an “ao dai shop” anywhere in Vietnam with plenty of choices of colours and styles for you to pick. If you want your “ao dai” to be unique, you can always go to a local workshop and order a tailor-made one.
Price range: From 1.2 million VND ($50)
Where to buy:
Commonly, “non la” is known as the conical hat or leaf hat, often reminding image of Vietnam. Originally, the Vietnamese have been using it for centuries in daily life rain or shine, leading to the significant bond forming, especially for farmers. Inasmuch as the key sector dominating Vietnam’s economy has been agriculture since the founding day, Vietnamese farmers have had to work on the rice fields, under the scorching sunlight of the humid tropical country.
Not just while working, on the street all over Vietnam, you can easily catch the image of women wearing “non la”. Often you may catch sight of an old lady going to the market, or a woman selling flowers on her bicycle or a yoke.
The impression is so well imprinted in our minds that it would appear to be “so Vietnam!”. Without hesitation, tourists buy “non la” to bring with them a piece of the culture and remind themselves of a peaceful Vietnam. Thus, you might find yourself among other tourists with the same souvenir on your flight back home.
Price range: From 50.000 VND ($2)
Where to buy:
Speaking of souvenirs in Vietnam, many may not have heard of traditional paintings. Originated from a village with the same name located in Bac Ninh province (in the north of Hanoi), Dong Ho paintings have been preserved as a traditional art of Vietnam for centuries.
Traditionally, its paper is made from Dó trees, which are commonly found around local riverbanks. For generations, the villagers of Dong Ho have been practising the antique painting method. Completing a Dong Ho painting takes an artisan roughly 3 months of hard work.
Notably, during the traditional new year (Tết) in Vietnam, you can spot a lot of shops selling Dong Ho paintings on the streets. As a tradition to wish for luck, prosperity and happiness in the upcoming year, Vietnamese people would buy meaningful paintings to decorate their houses.
If you’re wondering about what gifts to bring home for your family and friends, this would be a classic addition to a house as decoration.
Price range: From 230.000 VND ($10)
Where to buy:
In the past, silk clothing was only used by the royal family for its quality and precious value. This exquisite fabric was a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Nowadays, however, this luxury item has become a lot more affordable and widely accessible.
Naturally, silk in Vietnam is made from silkworm and manually crafted with traditional handlooms. This long and thorough process requires both patience and passion.
You can find silk in scarves, clothing, painting,… with distinguishing colours and sizes. The traditional manual process results in exquisite quality for silk and increases its value. Therefore, although customers may have to pay a rather high price, it is one of the souvenirs in Vietnam so “smooth” you will be sold before you know it.
Where to buy:
Ceramic products are extremely popular throughout Vietnam. Vietnamese people use ceramic products for everyday needs: ceramic bowl for meals, a ceramic vase for decoration, ceramic brick for construction…
Throughout the long history of invention and development, ceramic making technique in Vietnam has reached a high level of complexity and quality. You can find ceramic products in numerous shapes, sizes and decoration purposes.
On a short trip to the ceramic village in Hanoi, you can observe how the local artisans make art using traditional techniques and even get a chance to make one by yourself. Making ceramics will be a tricky task for clumsy hands at first, but this is undoubtedly a special souvenir in Vietnam. Dirty work always brings back “good money”!
If you prefer perfection, you can choose to buy a ceramic product from local artisans. Beware of getting outnumbered by the overwhelming count of products, it is, however, a comfortable headache though!
Price range: From 120.000 VND ($5)
Where to buy:
Printed on paper made with bamboo, propaganda posters are a typical and original souvenir to bring home. They have held significant meaning and are still in used today in Vietnam.
In many souvenir shops located in the Old Quarter, you can buy them in different sizes: from as small as a postcard format, to medium and huge posters. They were real propaganda posters and convey powerful and compelling topics such as peace, Ho Chi Minh, history of Vietnam or general facts.
The reason why foreginers love it so much is because they are original, authentic and have this retro look that brings back the 70s.
Price range: From 70.000 VND to 300.00 VND ($3-$13)
Where to buy:
Unfamiliarity, helplessness and the language barrier may make you find it a little difficult to shop for souvenirs in Vietnam. Worry no more, let a local travel agency be your companion on your trip. Our enthusiastic guide will not only lead you through an unforgettable journey but will also help you find and choose the right souvenirs.
Find the best souvenirs in Vietnam for you and bring them home, to let the memories of your journey live forever!
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