Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

By Wendy Updated Aug. 12, 2021

If you look through your closet you will likely find that a large number of your belongings where made somewhere in Vietnam. China might be famous for the “made in” slogan but Vietnam is also a major producer of commercial goods like electronics and clothing.

This makes it an excellent destination for shopping for both luxury goods and bargain buys.

Ho Chi Minh City sprawls across 30,000 square kilometers and among this mass lies almost unlimited shopping experiences. If you are in search of luxury international brands or trinkets to take back to your coworkers, you will certainly find plenty of options in this southern city.

Recommended Tours

What to Look For

Ho Chi Minh City is home to almost 20 million people and, as such, provides shoppers with a diverse range of products to buy. In particular, Ho Chi Minh City is famous for its traditional Vietnamese handicrafts, fake brand name clothes, and war memorabilia. Electronics, purses, coffee, and sporting goods are also widely available and very common.

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City can be divided into two basic types: markets and malls. The famous street markets, such as Binh Tay, offer tourists a more authentic atmosphere and are the best places to buy cheap consumables, handicrafts, and cheap knockoffs.

Malls and plazas will be more familiar to the Western shopper and are a good destination for travelers looking to spend a little more money on luxury brands.

Hand Carved Statues

Hand carved statues of Vietnamese men and women in traditional clothing are possibly the most iconic type of souvenir from Ho Chi Minh City. While you can buy these statues in almost every city in the country, the Vietnamese people themselves associate the art with HCMC.

For the average tourist who is just looking for a few knickknacks to take home as well as those in search of a traditionally carved statue try Ben Thanh Market. Located along Le Loi Street in the heart of downtown HCMC, this market is well known to taxi drivers and easy to find.

In this market, you can find these beautiful statues and interact with the artists who make them.

Elaborate Silks and Sand Paintings

Try Binh Tay Market if you are interested in finding the silks and sand paintings that have come to represent art in Ho Chi Minh City.

HCMC has a long history as a producer of silk and it can be purchased by the bolt or already made into clothes. Look for hand-embroidered silks that cannot be found anywhere else in the world and are the marvel of Southern Vietnamese textiles.

Sand painting is another type of traditional handicraft that is special to Ho Chi Minh City. Artists paint their medium with glue and then decorate it with spirals of colorful sand. Each painting is unique and some offer depictions of scenes of life in Vietnam while others are more abstract expressions of the artists’ creativity.

Some artists in this market will offer customized paintings that include the buyer's name or likeness.

War Memorabilia

Due to the modern wars that affected Vietnam so much, the country is an excellent place for the history buff looking for a few good collectables as well as for outdoorsmen and survivalists who prefer military surplus goods. Head to Dan Sinh Market on Yersin Street if this sounds like you.

Although many of the canteens and uniforms on sale in Dan Sinh are replicas, it is possible to find genuine war memorabilia if you have a trained eye.

As a general rule, make sure to look around multiple shops to see if you can buy the same item in multiple places. If you can, then it is obviously a mass-produced replica and not, perhaps, the genuine war relic that the shop owner may be claiming it is.

Knockoff Clothes

Saigon Square is the home of cheap knockoffs in Ho Chi Minh City. Located on the corner of Hai Ba Trung Street and Le Duan Street, the Saigon Square market will have most of the international brands you are familiar with.

Be warned, almost none of these products are genuine and the quality may be poor. If this does not bother you then you can truly find some amazing deals.

Vietnam is one of the world’s largest producers of clothing and textiles. The fake and occasionally low quality clothes you can find in Saigon Square are sometimes made in the same factories where their higher quality counterparts are made.

If you are lucky, you can snag a seemingly genuine set of designer clothes for a fraction of the cost.

Recommended Itinerary

Recap

No matter what you are looking for in Vietnam, you can find it. So having a plan can help make sure that you do not leave without getting exactly what you want.

Saigon Square is a good all-around market for knockoffs and souvenirs. Dan Sinh is the best for war memorabilia and oddities, such as preserved snakes. Binh Tay and Ben Thanh would be the best choice if you are looking for traditional Vietnamese handicrafts, such as statues, silks, or wooden chopsticks.

Recommended Tours

Tips on Shopping

One of the most rewarding experiences when shopping in Vietnam is when you see something you want and are able to get the shop owner to agree to a price you think is reasonable.

Bartering and Haggling

Bartering and haggling resides in a legal gray area in the country and is widely practiced and accepted. Unlike most Western countries, it is not considered rude to try to spend as little money as possible.

Be warned — in high-end establishments and established shopping centers, such as malls, there will often be signs prohibiting bartering. This is due to laws that exist to protect consumers like you from shopkeepers unfairly inflating prices for foreigners and for other economic reasons.

It is not recommended to try to barter in these places and you will likely be met with some scorn if you choose to try.

However, street-side stalls and small shops will be happy to negotiate a price if it means making a sale. Below are a few tips if you decide to try your hand at bartering.

Be Polite but Firm

Shopkeepers are experienced salespeople and do not want to drop a price unless it will ensure a sale. If you are impolite, do not expect the person helping you to be flexible; they can simply wait for another customer who is willing to pay the sticker price.

While maintaining a polite tone, do not be afraid to be firm about what you think is a reasonable price.

Leave

If the negotiation is not going in your favor just leave! Most times, the salesperson will attempt to make you stay by becoming more favorable in the negotiation and you are on your way towards getting a great deal.

If their demeanor does not change when you try to leave then keep going out the door and find another store as it is unlikely that you cannot find what you are looking for somewhere else.

Explore Asia with Asia Highlights

At Asia Highlights we offer tailor-made tours through Asia, where you can enjoy all highlights as well as amazing cultural experiences. To get started, send us an email.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Every step of your trip, you will be looked after by your 1:1 travel consultant based in Asia.
  • No-risk booking: We refund as much as we can and adapt flexibly to unexpected changes.

10-Day Best of Vietnam with Mekong Delta

More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

Get Inspired with Our Sample Itineraries

At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.

We are here to help you...
Start planning your tailor-made Asia tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create My Trip
About Us
At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. Not just any journey, but the unique trip with the exceptional experiences you're looking for — whether it's a family vacation, a honeymoon, or your annual break. more ...
Rated 4.8 out of 5 | Excellent
Featured on
Medias