Shopping in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is truly one of the highlights of this fascinating city. New shopping malls are springing up all over downtown Saigon, bringing with them international fashion brands to please the most demanding of fashion connoisseurs, but it is the variety of shopping experiences and one-off items that most excite us about shopping in Ho Chi Minh.
Boutique fashion is more prominent here than almost anywhere else in Southeast Asia, where bespoke items can be bought at a fraction of what they cost elsewhere. Markets in Ho Chi Minh are also highly recommended as they still play a central role in the daily lives of locals and visitors – truly a shopping experience you won’t forget.
What to shop in Saigon
Fabric, silk and textile
The reference for the purchases of fabrics, silks and textiles in general is An Dong market. This Vietnamese market in any rule, is located just behind the modern, luxurious and expensive shopping center An Dong Plaza, where there are obviously not many customers. An Dong Market is the place where many Vietnamese traders make their purchases of textiles, clothing, etc… before selling in other parts of the city of Ho Chi Minh City (eg Ben Thanh market).
With regard to man shoes there are variety and quantity, but Madam shoes is the strong point of Vietnam: sandals, shoes heel, ballerinas, shoes, boots, slippers, etc… the amount of designs, colors and models that are offered in Saigon is overwhelming. Most of the shoes are made of plastic and /or leatherette, if you want a good leather shoes have to look a little more.
Handbags and luggage
We venture to say that 90% of the bags that are sold in Vietnam are forgeries, in some cases, handbags replicas are so good that it is impossible to distinguish authentic bag. The only site where you can buy an authentic bag (eg: Louis Vuitton bags) is in the official shop authorized, not you fies from any other store.
Vietnamese handicrafts are very unique and intricate. Saigon is especially famous for lacquerware and coconut dinnerware. Bowls, plates, spoons and chopsticks make great gifts and decoration! You can also find fabulous fabric creations with pathwork and threadwork embroidery. Or, if you prefer wood items, you might like the handcrafted wooden boats and figurines that are often sold at the markets.
Try antiques street (otherwise known as Le Cong Kieu street) just outside Ben Thanh Market. People have commented that the stores are riddled by imitations but you may find a diamond in the rough! Items include old money, stamps, war memorabilia, figurines made of ivory or bone and more. Be careful when buying antiques in Vietnam however as it is illegal to export real antiques out of the country.
Where to shop
1. Ben Thanh Market – Ho Chi Minh City’s central market and a must-see when visiting Vietnam’s largest and most boisterous city, Ben Thanh Market is fun at any time of day and well into the night. Early mornings see locals shopping for fresh produce before fashion stalls take centre stage throughout the day, as well as rows of coffee traders, selling a dizzying array of beans. Come nightfall, a night market sets up alongside the main hall, selling clothing, apparel and souvenirs until 23:00, along with interesting pop-up street food stalls.
2. Vincom Center – The luxurious Vincom Center is Ho Chi Minh City’s largest shopping mall with over 250 shops spread out over two separate buildings. Vincom Center A is a charming, low rise colonial building housing many flagship stores for international fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Hermes. Vincom Center B occupies the first four floors of a modern glass skyscraper just across the street from the original premises. Here you will find more high street brands, sporting apparel and homeware.
3. Binh Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market) Cholon is the name given to Vietnam’s largest Chinatown, located in District 5 in the south west of downtown Ho Chi Minh. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, the central market called Binh Tay is a fascinating assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, textiles and fresh goods including many weird and wonderful exotic fruit. Overall, Binh Tay Market is chaotic, hot and a lot of fun.
4. Fashion Boutiques Anyone with an interest in fashion simply must spend some time hitting the boutique fashion stores in Ho Chi Minh, with something for almost any taste and budget. Dong Khoi Street in downtown District 1 is a great place to start, but really there are plenty of other fashion boutiques spread out across Saigon.
5. Saigon Square – A wholesale market with some of the best prices in Ho Chi Minh, anyone looking for great bargains should make Saigon Square their first stop. Small stalls are densely packed into this warehouse like space, with products stacked high and sold cheap. T-shirts, shoes, swimwear, luggage, jewellery and textiles are all found in abundance here.
6. Diamond Plaza – Diamond Plaza is a department store in District 1 that is surrounded by many of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral and April 30th Park. Housed in a converted period building, there are several floors of shopping separated into men’s and women’s fashion, homeware, and sports goods. Once you’ve finished shopping, there are multiple dining and entertainment venues to enjoy. In particular, family friendly activities located in Diamond Plaza include bowling and a cinema.
7. An Dong Market (Craft Market) – An Dong Market is mostly a fashion wholesalers for locals but on the top floor there are many crafts stalls, making this one of the best places in Ho Chi Minh to buy handicrafts from the skilled artisans who practice Vietnam’s proud heritage in lacquer and woodwork. Located outside the city centre, the Craft Market is in District 10, in the west of the city.
8. Khaisilk – Khaisilk is a fashion and homeware boutique creating modern designs from Vietnam’s luscious silk fabrics. Starting with just one shop and growing to be a brand of international repute, Khaisilk is a true success story. Located on the fashionable Dong Khoi Street in District 1, come here to check out their dresses, handbags, scarves and bedsheets.
9. Parkson Plaza Department Store – Parkson Plaza is an international standard department store that is laid out in the tried and tested formula of cosmetics and perfumes on the ground floor, fashion for men and women on the second and third floors, with homeware and restaurants on the fourth. This is a compact shopping experience with mid- to high-range products such as Coach, Calvin Klein and Lacoste.