Top Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Shopping Experiences

In the planning stages you would not expect Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam to be a top shopping destination, but on arrival visitors surprisingly find the opposite, a shopper’s paradise.

With hindsight it’s actually not that difficult to see why Saigon is a haven for shopaholics, just look at the the ground level of most houses on any major street, all setup to sell everything from shoes and clothing to food and alcohol, and then there are the numerous markets scattered throughout this huge metropolis, with this variety and competition, you will be sure to find what you want at a great price, with a little bargaining.

If up market & brand name labels are more you’re your style, then Dong Khoi Street in district one won’t disappoint with the like of Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci, Saigon Ho Chi Minh City truly a shopping experience for just about every taste and budget, so let’s look at the must do shopping experiences on a holiday to Vietnam.

Top Saigon Shopping experiences

Ben Thanh Market – Number one on any trip to Saigon Vietnam should be the historic Ben Thanh Market; located in District one, this market once the main market for locals is now focused squarely at the countries ever expanding international visitors, shoppers still get a feel for how the market was pre 1990 when Vietnam opened its doors to the west and international tourists. The variety of items for sale at Ben Thanh market is quite staggering with the sale of everything from Clothing, fabrics, cosmetics, fake Rolex and coffee thru to fruit vegetables and live animals.

Some facts about: Ben Thanh market dates back to the 17th century when it was an uncovered muddy market located near the Saigon wharf (Ben) and the Turtle Citadel (Quy Thanh) Ben Thanh Market has moved and been rebuilt twice with its current location/building being opened in March 1914, the buildings landmark clock tower is the symbol of Saigon

 

As mentioned Dong Khoi Street is the place to go for top quality brand labels, and is well worth a visit for a look even if this type of shopping is not your style, Dong Khoi street also houses some quality Vietnamese art and craft shops, Dong Khoi and the area around is also home to some of Saigon’s most trendy Café and nightclubs.

District 1 in Saigon houses three major department stores

Diamond Plaza – The most popular shopping mall is Diamond plaza which has a good rang of quality designer clothing, fragrances and electronics, with a Cinema, Pizza Hut and Bowling alley on the upper floors.

Diamond Plaza Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam Shopping

Saigon Tax Trade Center – Sitting on the corner of Nguyen Hue and Le Loi Street is the Saigon Tax trade center, the ground floor mostly specializes is locally made gold and silver jewelry, throughout the store sells great quality locally and overseas made clothing, shoes, cosmetics and tourist souvenirs. Of special note is the 3rd floor where you will find a seller of pirated DVDs along with a reasonable sized supermarket selling a great selection of local and imported foods from around the world.  

Parkson Department Store – Parkson  Department Store which opened its doors in 2005 is different from the two before mentioned,  as the entire store is owned operated entirely by Parkson, and they sell more of the big ticket items such as plasma TVs, and white goods, along with the usual clothing, cosmetics,  great for a look if you have the time.

Shopping outside district 1

An Dong Wholesale Market – (Near China Town) Shoppers are presented with an overwhelming choice, of clothes fabrics, jewelry and food, but with an emphasis on clothing and fabrics. Even though this is a wholesale market store holders are happy to sell to the public and international travelers,  fewer tourists frequent An Dong because it’s a little further away and not as well known as Ben Thanh, for this fact it’s a great opportunity to see a local Vietnamese market in action. The ground level of An Dong specializes in mainly gold jewelry, and food, with the upper levels of the market selling clothing and home items.  

Binh Tay in Cho Lon (China Town) – Nearly every major city in the world has a china town and Saigon is no different, and Cho Lon District is Saigon’s China Town, with the huge Binh Tay wholesale market at its focal point which is bigger than Ben Thanh, and just like An Dong above sellers are happy to sell to everyone. Binh Tay has a huge array of items imported from China (as you can imagine) around the world along with locally made items.

Warning this market this market is not air-conditioned and not well ventilated so its recommend you get there early in the morning to beat the heat.  

Great things to buy in Saigon:

  • Ladies have a traditional Vietnamese Dress Ao Dai and other clothing tailor made
  • Vietnam is renowned for stunning quality lacqureware pictures, bowls, plates & drink coaster plus many other items that have both decorative and practical uses.
  • Vietnamese Art, Saigon Ho Chi Minh City is has many great traditional and modern art shops, from carvings, and rattan thru to stunning paintings.
  • Vietnam’s coffee is some of the best in the world, renowned for its unique flavor and richness, it’s no wonder the global coffee giant Nestlé reportedly buys a third of the country’s entire coffee export. When purchasing your coffee also get yourself a coffee grinder and a Stainless Steel coffee filter.
  • Shoes and Handbags, All women love their shoes and hand bags and Vietnamese women are no different, so you will find an enormous range and variety of shoes and handbags, from reasonable quality brand name rip offs thru to original Vietnamese designed masterpieces.
  • Men have a casual or business suite made; Vietnams tailors are some of the most skilled in the world and importantly cheap.

  • You can get some very cheap yet practice tourist items, nearly every trip I do to Vietnam I always buy a dozen or so fold up wooden business card holders, they are cheap and compact, friends and business acquaintances love them.

Shopping in Vietnam Saigon Vietnamese Lacquerware

 

 

 Shopping in Saigon Ho Chi Minh City Vietnamese Coffee

Tips for shopping and bargaining in Vietnam

  • If the item does not have a price tag, the price is nearly always negotiable.
  • When negotiating a price, knock at least three quarters off the top.
  • If negotiations are getting you nowhere start to walk, you will be amazed by the number of sellers that will agree on your price while you are walking away.
  • Vietnam has recently changed from paper to polymer (plastic) bank notes, and some of the notes look very similar because of their color, for example the 20,000 Dong note looks very similar to the 200,000 dong note and the same goes for the  50,000 and 500,000 dong notes. So It always pays to double check before handing over any money and also when receiving change.

Asia Travel Magazine would like to hear your questions and Saigon Ho Chi Minh City & Vietnam Shopping experiences, why not leave a comment or question below!

About Ben Hoffman