Ho Chi Minh City spoils shoppers of all kinds with its wide range of items for sale. From colorful handicraft items to adorable tourist memorabilia, all of them remain well within a traveler’s supposed budget. From strict budgets to broken budgets, shopping in Ho Chi Minh City is a favorite pastime of both tourists and locals that is undeniably overwhelming with choices.
There are generally two things you need when going shopping in the Saigon City. One is a set of good bargaining skills while the other is having the good eyes to pick the right items. Straightforwardly speaking, any item without a tag price can ultimately be bargained down. A rule of thumb is to haggle it for two thirds of its initially quoted price. If your negotiations are getting you nowhere, simply start to walk. You’ll be amazed by the number of sellers that will agree on your price just by seeing the threat of you walking away. Some tourist shops, however, are keen on their fixed prices. Nevertheless, these kinds of tourist shops offer quality at its best.
There are designated areas that remain shopping zones in the city, such as the Dong Khoi and Le Thanh Ton found at the back of the Rex Hotel. Other shopping streets found nearby are Hai Ba Tring and Le Loi. Items often range from antiques, ceramics, furniture, jewelry, woven bags, silk and hand-embroidered table cloth. Boxes and vases made from lacquer ware are very popular items among tourists. If you aim for antiques, try Le Cong Kieu. Carefully inspect when buying as some are genuine antiques while some are great replications.
Aside from shopping districts, markets are also a great place to find quality and inexpensive apparel and souvenirs. Visit the busy Ben Thanh Market along Le Lou and the Binh Tay Market found in Cholon. The Binh Tay Market is a great wholesale market filled with loud and often Chinese rather than Vietnamese store owners. People who visit the market start from early in the morning up until 2 in the morning when the night market comes out. Its gloomy and narrow walkways are often crammed, giving you a taste of the liveliest local experiences in Ho Chi Minh City.
Now for a more pleasant and leisurely way to shop, shopping malls such as the Diamond Plaza along Le Duan and the Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza along Le Thanh Ton can be visited. A 10% VAT is included in most items sold in Vietnam. Unfortunately, there is no way for foreign visitors to claim this back. However, the duty free shop of the city is found in the corner of Le Loi and Nguyen Hue, where travelers are allowed to make tax-free purchases.
Many shops in the city are open until late in the evening 7 days a week. The Vietnamese locals enjoy post-lunch naps so this is a great time to avoid the often busy shopping centers and streets. Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City remains pure joy for many shopaholics and souvenir hunters. Anyone who has ever shopped here cannot deny the excellent range of merchandise found in Saigon City.