If you’re particularly enthusiastic about quality textiles, clothes and handicrafts, shopping in Hanoi will not disappoint you. The city also has a good range of day and night markets, both indoors and outdoors and you’ll find that night markets are more of a social than shopping occasion but that doesn’t preclude finding bargains at night.
There’s a good arts scene alive in Hanoi and let’s face it; in a city this size with a shopaholic population you’re going to find a lot to buy but under less stressful conditions than frenetic Ho Chi Minh City.
1. Silk and Embroidery
Travelers should not miss authentic traditional silk when visiting Vietnam, a typical Eastern country. There are some differences in the way locals make silk in each region of Vietnam but the Van Phuc village in Hanoi has been renowned for making the best silk in the country. You can buy draw silk, print silk or patterned silk with national decorations as a unique gift for friends and families in Hang Gai, a small street near the Old Quarter.
2. Ethnic Minority Products
Excluding the dominant Kinh people, Vietnam is home for 54 ethnic groups scattering mostly in the Northern mountainous region in Vietnam and each group has its own costume with distinctive designs. In this day and age, both handicrafts and clothes with unique decorations and special weaving from various ethnic groups are widely sold in souvenirs shops around Old Quarter Hanoi, on street like Hang Manh, Hang Trong, Hang Bong street..
Handicrafts in Hanoi varies from lacquer ware, mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, ceramics, sandalwood statuettes, watercolours, oil paintings, prints and assorted antiques (real and imitation). Hang Gai, To Tich, Hang Khai and Cau Go Street (old quarter) are significant shopping destinations. The price ranges from 3-7 USD depending on each item.
4. Designer Boutiques
Fashion lovers can purchase exquisitely crafted custom-tailored clothes with a bargain price when visiting Hanoi. You just need to bring magazine catalogue or the item of clothing you want to copy and provide the tailors your instructions. Ordering shirts, blouses, gowns, cocktail and especially Ao dai (the traditional long dress in Vietnam) made of Vietnam authentic silk is absolutely worth a try. Khai Silk shop at Hang Gai Street is one of many tailor-made boutiques. The cost is about 25-50 USD per outfit.
5. Dried fruits (O Mai)
Omai is always a unique and special gift offered by Hanoians to theirs friends. This delicious dish is made from dried apricots, kumquats.. seasoned with sugar, ginger, salt, chili and licorice ,which gives it a nice mixture of many flavor. Beside apricots, many other fruits are now used to make O Mai as well.
Some famous shop to buy Omai are: 11 Hàng Đường Street ( Hồng Làm Shop), 15 Hàng Đường Street ( Toàn Thịnh)..
Try to master key Vietnamese words such as “Bao nhiêu tian”? (How much is this? – pronounced: bow nyu thien) and “Dat quá”. (Too expensive! – daht quah).
When you are given an initial price try a few “Oi Gioi Oi’s” (Oh my God! – pronounced: oi zoy oi) and you’ll find things will go a lot better. Remember – keep things lighthearted.