Guidebook The city that never stops and always shops


The city that never stops and always shops

“The last time I was there I stocked up on everything,” says Evelyn Hannon at Journeywoman. Ho Chi Minh City offers the “best-value shopping opportunities for made-to-measure clothing, lacquer ware, woodwork, fine cotton goods, machine embroidered and hand embroidered goods, scarves, t-shirts, faux jewelry and shawls … now my gift drawer is filled to overflowing with presents that would cost three and four times the amount if they were purchased at home.” And, she says, there are small shops everywhere. “Walking from the Rex Hotel towards the Ben Thanh Market the streets are lined with shops, stalls, and shopping arcades. There are shoes, silk scarves, baseball caps and t-shirts as far as the eye can see. There are salad servers, lacquer bowls and boxes, embroidered linens, handbags and costume jewelry most at ridiculously low prices.”

Here are a few of the best shops in town:

Valenciani: “Is the Saigon fashion set’s destination of choice. Racks of candy-colored Indo-chic dresses (from $120) fill the sleek pink-and-black space … traditional Asian silhouettes are modernized and delivered in unusual fabrics such as houndstooth or nubby wool.” (Travel and Leisure)

Sadec District: “Their contemporary spin on ceramic, wood, glass and bamboo crafts from rural Vietnamese and South-east-Asian villages proved so popular they now run three shops across the city … many pieces are limited editions commissioned from little-known designers; others -- teapots, trays, bowls and linen bags -- are made in-house.” (Conde Nast Traveler)

Saigon Kitsch: “Here’s the shop to pick up those bold propaganda posters (small 180,000 dong, large 380,000 dong), old-timey colonial prints and postcards, ‘Little Miss Hoi An’ coasters and other souvenirs with interesting Vietnam related graphics … there’s also bamboo homewares and bags made from recycled materials.” (Travelfish)

Gaya: “Makes a dramatic first impression (yes, those are giant fountain-pen nibs on the façade) … inside, you’ll find the best haute souvenirs in all of Saigon. Highlights include Michele de Albert’s lacquer bowls (from $18) and trays (from $36) in psychedelic colors; with 12 coats of varnish, they practically glow from within.” (Travel and Leisure)

Ginkgo Concept Store: “Focuses on sustainably made items from clothing by local designers (check out Linda Mai Phung’s organic cotton and silk line) to gorgeously packaged bars of Marou chocolate, Vietnam’s first single-origin, handmade chocolate using local cacao beans. (New York Times)

L'Usine: “Offers a considered edit of fashion and lifestyle accessories … in-house labels Trois Filles for women and Tinwell + Bismark for men are stocked alongside international brands such as Clae (ultra-slick trainers) and Madam Stoltz (dreamy Danish homeware).” (Conde Nast Traveler)

Kin Boutique: “Couturier Nguyen Cong Tri fashions runway-worthy satin and silk frocks at ready-to-wear prices (a floaty, turquoise chiffon dress for under $300). But don’t expect a quick turnaround: it will take up to 10 days and a couple of fittings (shipping is available).” (Travel and Leisure)

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