What to buy in Vietnam is on many tourists minds when they come to this country. There are so many things to buy in Vietnam, it is hard to know where to start. From crazy cheap trinkets purchased in the markets to quality original paintings that make good future investments, Vietnam shopping offers something for everyone.
Where else could you design your own clothes, your jewelry, shoes even the leather bags you buy? Vietnam offers quality and affordable prices. You can buy lanterns, T shirts, ceramics, silk, silver and sculptures. You can even spend money on things that will cover the cost of your holiday with spending money left over.
So, it’s not so much ‘What to Buy in Vietnam’ as how to ‘Stop Buying in Vietnam!’ One thing we highly suggest: pick up a couple of extra suitcases at the nearest market, you are going to need them.
What are the Famous Things to Buy in Vietnam?
Whilst Vietnam sells pretty much everything, there are certain iconic handicrafts, souvenirs, produce, gifts and apparel that are quintessentially Vietnamese.
*NOTE: USD prices given have been rounded to the nearest dollar and are an approximate guide only due to currency fluctuations
Known as ‘Non La’, the handwoven, palm leaf conical hat worn by both sexes, is a quintessential symbol of Vietnam. Nowadays, most middle-class Vietnamese wouldn’t be seen dead wearing one due to its association with the working class but visitors have embraced them wholeheartedly. Stroll down any street in Hoi An’s Old Town and you’ll see a hoard of tourists decked out in traditional Ao Dai dress, topped off with Non La. Popular with all Vietnamese in the past, there were even different styles for the rich, the military and monks.
While these practical, cheap lightweight hats make great souvenirs, they are tricky to pack. Best way to take them home is on your head. You can buy Non La in three sizes as well as ones that are painted.
Cost: 40,000 – 120,000 VND (*2 – 5 USD) Where to Buy: Hoi An Old Town, markets and souvenir shops.
Whether it be for yourself, a wife, a friend or a child, Ao Dai (‘Ow yai’) should be on your ‘What to Buy’ list. Worn in schools and widely throughout Vietnam, this national symbol of traditional Vietnamese beauty, femininity and sophistication, looks incredible on. Translated literally as ‘long shirt’, you can buy ready-made, cheap ao dai in markets throughout Vietnam aimed specifically at tourists. For those looking for something a touch classier, pay a tailor and design your own. The male equivalent of ao dai is a long tunic over pants that is traditionally worn at weddings and formal occasions.
Cost: ready-made 350,000 – 1,000,000 VND (*15 – 42 USD) ; tailor 1,500,000+ VND (*65+ USD) Where to Buy: Old Town tourist shops, markets or any Hoi An Tailor.
Silk production in Vietnam dates back to the first century BC and the beginning of the famous Silk Road. Used as a major trade commodity between East and West, silk has continued to thrive as one of Vietnam’s major exports. Reflecting this heritage, many Hoi An Old Town shops ooze with colorful ties, sleeping bags, dresses and dressing gowns but the scarves steal the silk show. Is it real silk? Often not. To be sure, go to Hoi An’s Silk Village. There, you’ll find reams of silk along with beautiful ready to wear, silk garments – and scarves. They’re the real deal with prices that reflect it.
Or just take pot-luck. Many street shops in Hoi An offer authentic, silk products more cheaply but if it’s not silk – and you can’t tell – what does it matter? Affordable to buy, light to carry, all ‘silk’ scarves make glorious gifts or souvenirs.
Cost: Meter of Silk 70,000 – 120,000+ VND (*3 – 5 USD); Silk Scarves 120,000 – 200,000 VND (*5 – 8 USD) (buy more to get a good discount) Where to Buy: Silk Village, Boutiques, Markets and Tourist Shops
Although coffee wasn’t introduced by the French until 1857 Vietnam is now second only to Brazil as an exporter. The typical coffee bean grown in Vietnam is the Robusta. Rightly-named because it packs a cracking caffeine punch of 2.7%, almost double the 1.5% (Western-preferred) Arabica. To pick up some beautifully packaged coffee gift boxes just stroll through Hoi An’s Old Town. If you want to sample some before you buy, drop into shops like Hoa Champa Coffee Craft Shop. Doubling as a gift shop, you can buy some lovely coffee gift sets and souvenirs over a Robusta coffee. But beware: this heart-stopping brew could see you still bouncing off walls 24 hours after your first sip (God help those Latte drinkers).
Phin Coffee Filters
Phin Coffee Filters are used widely throughout Vietnam. These lightweight, simple metal filters are nifty dripolators that are placed directly over the cup or glass. You’ll need one if you want to make authentic Vietnamese coffee.
Cost: Robusta Coffee 80,000+ VND (*4+ USD) – depending on amount; Phin Coffee Filter 70,000+ VND (*3+ USD) – depending on size Where to Buy: Hoi An Old Town tourist shops, coffee shops, supermarkets, any market in Hoi An.
The Vietnamese are obsessed with pottery and ceramics, just look in any household. Dating back to the Bronze Age, the ceramic styles of today are an interesting reflection of the country’s complex history. Ruled by China from 111 BC — 980 AD, Vietnamese ceramics have strong Chinese influences but Vietnamese potters also borrowed from Champa, Cambodia and India to make the distinctive, glazed, hand-painted product we find today.
While there are a variety of colors, cobalt blue and white are the most prevalent. You can buy ornate teapots, tea sets, large bowls, serving plates and vases all of shapes and sizes throughout Vietnam. They can be used functionally or decoratively. The downside to buying ceramics is their fragility so make sure they are packaged well.
Costs: small bowl 30,000 VND (*1 USD); tea set with tray 250,000 VND (*11 USD) Where to Buy: Reaching Out Gift Shop (who employ people with disabilities), Hoa Champa Coffee Craft Shop, coffee and tourist shops, Hoi An Old Town.
Shiny, bright lacquerware products are ubiquitous in Hoi An but the process to create this glossy look is intricate, long – up to four months – and requires pain-staking craftsmanship. Resin from son trees is used to form the distinctive hardy seal. From furniture to dishes, jewelry boxes, paintings, statues and vases, lacquerware applications. Prices can be high, but if you’re out for a very reasonable lacquer gift, consider the bowls made from coconut shells. The outside of the shell is left natural while the inside is painted with myriad eye-catching colors and designs. Alternatively, the hardy, jewelry boxes painted with Vietnamese girls in ao dai also make attractive and distinctive Vietnamese gifts.
Note: Some countries like Australia have strict rules about wooden products so check your lacquerware keepsake has been properly treated or you may end up waving farewell at the immigration counter.
Cost: 120,000 VND (simple dish) – 2,000,000+ VND (*5 – 83 USD) Where to Buy: Markets, Craft & Gift Shops, Hoi An Old Town
If you’re looking to buy an exotic ornament, steeped in Vietnamese tradition then find the nearest shop selling Vietnamese water puppets. Water puppetry, performed in waist-high water, dates back to the 11th Century and originated in villages along the Red River Delta in Vietnam’s north. Unsurprisingly, stories performed rotate around folklore and rural life and often have a slapstick, humorous twist. You can buy all types of puppet characters from kings on horses to fishermen, nosey neighbors and meter high pig tail bumkins who narrate the shows. Water puppets make arresting decoration for any household. They are popular as souvenirs in Hanoi due to the famous Water Puppet show. However, in Hoi An, these gorgeous ‘wooden actors with lacquer finished expressions’ are a relatively new addition to the souvenir scene.
Cost: prices vary depending on size 250,000 – 3,000,000+ VND (*11 – 125+ USD) Where to Buy: Thanh Tram, 54 Le Loi (small amount), big stores temporarily closed.
Easy to carry paintings make great keepsakes of your holiday Vietnam. If you’re wondering where to look in Hoi An Old Town, you’ll find art galleries everywhere stuffed with landscapes, portraits and watercolors. But after a while pictures of buffalos ploughing the rice fields and girls in iconic ao dai all merge into one. These paintings are mass-produced and aimed at the tourist market. On the international art scene Vietnamese artists are making a significant splash and some works may turn into good investments. But buying a painting that resonates with you is far more important.
Galleries will provide cylinders to keep the painting free from creases on the flight back home. They can also organize shipping, if necessary. While some galleries will not budge on price, the more tourist-oriented galleries may haggle.
Cost: 200,000 – 1,500,000+ VND (*8 – 63 USD) – more for original works Where to Buy: Old Town
Rattan Bags and Straw Hats
If you’re not sure what gift to buy from Vietnam, you cannot go wrong purchasing one of the numerous rattan handicraft products. Eco-friendly and lightweight, rattan is durable, simple to clean and easily packed. Often used for furniture due to its strength and flexibility, this rapidly growing vine is also a popular medium for tourist merchandise from mega-cute, tightly woven, rattan round bags to baskets, bowls, vases and light shades. Try Sunday in Hoi An. This classy handicraft gift shop with set prices may charge more but the quality is high.
While we’re not talking Lock & Co. Hatters of London, Hoi An is packed with stalls selling straw hats. Small brims, wide brims in all shades of sand and cream, these hats are pretty good value. And if the hot sun, cocktails and rural scenes of a history past has you channeling Somerset Maugham, why not pick up one of their nifty little ‘Panama Hats’.
Cost: rattan round bags (depending on size) 80,000 – 250,000 VND (*3 – 11 USD); straw hats 150,000 VND (*6 USD) Where to Buy: Markets and gift shops
Lightweight, affordable and durable, eco-friendly bamboo keepsakes are a great reminder of Vietnam. For Vietnamese, the tall, strong and durable bamboo tree personifies strength, durability and ability to withstand difficulty – it’s a metaphor that inspires proverbs, stories, songs and artistic works. You will find handmade bamboo products in many shops – serving spoons, chopsticks, bowls, trays, jewelry, statues and more; there’s something for everyone. We particularly like the brightly painted, dragonflies that balance by their mouth on your finger. This cute, ultra-cheap and easy to carry, novelty gift is a perfect Hoi An memento.
Hand-woven Textiles from Vietnam’s Ethnic Minorities
There is great demand for the textiles that come from one of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. The work that goes into their vibrant, hand-woven fabric is intricate, painstaking and can take months to complete. Importantly, a unique back-story attends any blanket, clothing, bag or scarf purchased from an ethnic minority.
International demand for their work is the lifeline that has kept these cultures and traditions alive in recent times. In Hoi An many businesses work closely with ethnic minorities training them in business practices and providing distribution outlets.
Tip: Hoi An prices are higher than minority areas like Sapa so, if you have a chance to visit directly, do that.
Cost: large woven blankets 1,300,000+ VND (*54 USD) Where to Buy: Reaching Out Gift Shop, An Nhan Exquisite Cultural Gallery
Vietnamese Wood Carvings
Passed on through families for hundreds of years, Vietnam’s long tradition of wood carving is evident in many aspects of Vietnamese life. Furniture, alters, sculptures and wall-hangings are intricately carved with beautifully chiseled designs of religious or superstitious origin. The work of these talented craftsmen is in demand not just in tourist areas but throughout Vietnam as well as in the overseas markets.
In Hoi An, many shops sell wood carvings but the quality differs greatly. Carvings range from the cheap smiling buddhas and coiled dragons in souvenir shops to the more upmarket galleries such as Exquisite Gallery Hoi An. For a cheap, unique and joyful bamboo sculpture we recommend the work of Phuong Do in Bach Dang Street. For those who like to combine shopping with a tour and some history, we recommend a boat ride to the Kim Bong Carpentry Village. If you are struggling with what to buy in Vietnam we highly recommend a wood carving unless you’re from countries like Australia that have strict rules on bringing wood back into the country. If this is the case, make sure the gift you buy has been properly treated.
Best Things to Buy at the Markets
Some of the best things to buy at the markets include: chopsticks, T shirts, fans, jewelry, lacquered bowls, Alibaba trousers, Northface jackets, bags, scarves, 3D pop up greeting cards, basketware, clothes, bamboo dragonflies and jewelry. But remember you have to ‘barter’.
Hoi An’s Central Market is the biggest market in town and sprawls over several buildings. It sells everything from clothes, material, kids’ toys, shoes to basketware, souvenirs, fruit, meat and vegetables to live poultry. You’ll also find countless street vendors in the Old Town with makeshift stalls selling an array of souvenirs and gifts. The night market is great if your shopping list has ‘Enter Wonderland and buy lanterns’ on it.
Below are some of the most popular things to buy at the markets:
Fake brands like North Face jackets, Nike shoes, Ray-Ban, Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags are pretty high quality in Vietnam. Of course, the market seller will argue blind you are buying the real thing. Just go along with it. Bartering is a game steeped in tradition. Stay calm, smile and negotiate to get the price you want. Expect to pay around 400,000 – 750,000 VND (*17 – 31 USD) for a North Face jacket.
For cheap, trinket jewelry the markets offer great value. Woven bracelets, necklaces, earrings can all be picked up for as little as 30,000 – 80,000 VND. Buy more to get better discounts.
3D Pop Up Greeting Cards
You don’t need to travel far before some beaming Vietnamese will pop one of these in your face. Depicting quintessential Vietnamese scenes like girls in ao dai and buffalo in rice fields, they make unique and affordable mementos. Buy them for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or as a general reminder of your Vietnamese holiday. They cost around 30,000 – 50,000 VND (*1 – 2 USD) per card.
T shirts must be one of the most ubiquitous tourist items on sale in Vietnam. They come in all colors, designs and sizes. Just show an ounce of interest and a seller will dive, bottom up into a pile of T shirts to find you the one you want. While the quality of the market T shirts is not great, they are very affordable and their often, humorous slogans, make fun gifts or souvenirs. Whatever you’re told, the average T Shirt should knock you back 100,000 – 200,000 VND (*4 – 8 USD)
Vietnam has many medicinal remedies. Some seem reasonable while others top the list of ‘Most Bizarre’. Infusing a bottle of rice wine with a venomous snake for virility and good health seems like the latter – but who are we to know? Whether you buy it as a Viagra substitute or for health or as a talking point, this fishy tasting, snake wine is a unique gift to take back home. (If venomous snake isn’t your thing, you might like a scorpion or lizard instead.) It is illegal in some countries to bring back snake wine. Check before buying. Cost: 600,000 VND (*25 USD)
Elephant Print Pants
We love these lightweight, cool and comfortable, breezy pants. They are the perfect thing to buy for Vietnam’s humid weather. Coming in all designs and colors, elephant pants have been adopted by many tourists as the ‘thing to wear’ in Vietnam.
Cost: 80,000 – 120,000 VND (*3 – 5 USD)
Bamboo Dragon Flies
Whether you’re an adult or kid, who wouldn’t love a little dragonfly that balances by its mouth on your finger? Handmade, these novelty items are cheap to buy, come in many colorful designs and easy to carry back home (if you pack them right). Cost: 30,000 – 40,000 VND (1 – 2 USD)
What is Best to Buy in Hoi An?
Who can come to Hoi An and not be charmed by the colorful lanterns illuminating the streets? It is hard to get exact information on how Hoi An became a lantern town but we do know lanterns first hit Hoi An in the late 16th century. Primarily used to light up homes, they soon had a decorative role too. As in the past, colorful silk lanterns dominate the mass production for export and sale nowadays.
In Hoi An, the decorative use of lanterns by Old Town shop keepers is compulsory, ensuring a festive spirit. So, for anyone wondering what to buy as a quintessential reminder of their Hoi An holiday, we recommend a few lanterns.
If you feel like making your own lanterns there are some excellent workshops around at very affordable prices too. The best place to buy lanterns is either at Hoi An Night Market or a lantern workshop.
Cost: 70,000 – 350,000 VND (*3 – 15 USD) for big lanterns and 25,000 – 40,000 for smaller ones (*1 – 2 USD)
Banana and Other Fruit Printed Outfits
We’re not exactly sure when this ‘off your head’ trend started in Hoi An but when it did, it came as an explosion. Suddenly couples and groups of tourists were walking the town dressed en masse in banana, strawberry, pineapple or melon printed shirts, hats, trousers and dresses. Even more bewildering was their lack of embarrassment but they were all having fun. Of course, if you want to go the whole hog, get yourself to one of Hoi An’s many tailors and get a three-piece banana suit, hat and tie. A tailor-made garment will also last longer than your ‘one-wash’ purchase from the market.
Cost: 80,000 – 120,000 VND (*3 – 5 USD); tailored shirts 350,000+ VND (*15+ USD) – depending on tailor
Marble Statues and Ornaments
On the way from Danang to Hoi An you will pass one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, the Marble Mountains. Nearby, on the highway, huge marble statues are on sale that can be shipped anywhere in the world. Awesome Hindu Gods, Greek Gods, Buddha statues, mythical beasts and even cartoon characters. Take your camera. While there are many smaller sculptures on sale along with homeware and jewelry, it is the 4½ meter high structures that steal the show. One of our favorites on sale at the Marble Mountains are the more affordable and portable chiseled chess sets. These artistic marble carvings of ‘knights’, ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ are magnificent souvenirs for any tourist to take back home.
Cost: Marble chess set 1,500,000 – 2,500,000 VND (*63 – 104 USD)
Tailored Suits and Other Garments
Hoi An is famous for tailors and there are plenty to choose from, over 760 at last count. Whilst tailoring doesn’t always work out, it is a lot of fun and something everyone coming to Hoi An should try. You can get just about anything made in Hoi An and it is relatively cheap – depending on which tailor you choose (where else in the world can you buy a custom-made suit for 100 – 200 USD).
You will find many reviews on TripAdvisor about people’s ‘favorite’ tailors. It’s pretty subjective and often based on one experience. For comprehensive information on Best Tailors in Hoi An visit our section on Tailors.
What is Cheaper to Buy in Vietnam?
If you like bargains then start singing because you have come to the right country.
So, what is cheaper? Well, there’s the well-known ones like shoes, clothes, jewelry, cigarettes and alcohol but there’s others that are not so well known. Few are taking advantage of Vietnam’s hospital and dentistry services when nowadays, Vietnam’s medical and dental standards are good. Many hospitals employ Western doctors and an increasing number of Vietnamese doctors are overseas-trained.
Routine medical procedures, optical, dental and even eye-laser surgery are on par with those of developed countries. In some cases, the service in Vietnam is far better. In Vietnam there are no long waiting lists. Tests and results can be completed on the same day along with consultations with a variety of highly trained specialists. Medical tests and X-rays cost a fraction of what you’d pay in Western countries, even medication is cheaper. As international locals who have lived here many years, we often wonder why people don’t come to Vietnam to get elective surgery or routine procedures done or at the very least take advantage of the incredible value of dentistry. (Note: We are not saying everything is great, it’s not. If we needed a major operation, we’d be on the first plane home but for certain services, the standard is good.)
So, what exactly is cheaper to buy in Vietnam? Start smiling…
When we first came to Vietnam the leather shoes you could have made were a running joke with the international locals that lived here. They looked nice – for one day, on the second they were loose, on the third day they fell apart. That’s not quite the case nowadays. Whether it be in the markets or Old Town, you can get well made shoes, designed or copied that last the distance and are very affordable.
If your shoe fetish is out of control jump in the nearest taxi and head straight to Le Duan Street in Da Nang. Here the amount of shoe shops at heart-stopping prices will make you wish you never had to board a plane back home. In Hoi An retail shoe shops can be located in and around Ly Thuong Kiet Street. Cost: Vietnam’s ‘Nike’ Running Shoes, 350,000 – 500,000 VND (*15 – 21 USD), handmade leather shoes 500,000 – 1,500,000 VND (*21 – 63 USD)
See Shoes in Hoi An
Forget buying alcohol at Duty Free, in Vietnam alcohol is cheaper from the shops and it is the real deal! One of the cheapest shops in Hoi An for wine, spirits, cider, imported and local beer is Bich Thuy – though none can be considered expensive. Wine isn’t as cheap in Vietnam as other items and it may suffer from poor storage. However, some wine shops such as Red Apron (across from Bich Thuy) are air-conditioned and care has been taken with storage. Interestingly, for best value we still prefer Bich Thuy.
Cost: Bottle of local vodka 80,000 VND (*2 USD), imported vodka 280,000+ VND (*12+ USD) – depending on brand
If you are planning a stop in Hoi An during your trip to Vietnam, you’ll definitely want to pick up a leather bag, wallet or purse. There are countless quaint little shops throughout Hoi An’s Old Quarter with high-quality leather goods spilling out their front doors. If you have a few days to spend here, you can even get a piece custom-made.
Most of the leather goods that you’ll find in Hoi An are very high quality and will last a long time. Be sure to check the zippers and the lining (mesh lining will not hold up as long as it is thin and rips easily) prior to committing to purchasing.
You’ll have to do some serious negotiating to get a good price on your leather souvenir in Hoi An.
Cost: large duffle bags start from 2,300,000 – 3,450,000 VND (*96 – 144 USD) but if you negotiate well you can bring the price down to around 1,900,000 VND
Hoi An has some amazing designers. Boutiques like Metiseko and Avana sell original designs at very affordable prices. Whilst not strictly cheap they still offer great value compared to designer clothes back home. For those on a tighter budget Hoi An Old Town has clothes shops on every corner which may be of interest. However, if you are looking for real bargains then head to Ly Thuong Kiet Street just outside Hoi An Old Town. In recent years this street has exploded with cheap outlets. You can pick up ‘designer’ jeans for 100,000 – 200,000 VND (*4 – 8 USD) along with a host of other ‘designer’ ware. If you want an even better selection of cheap clothes, handbags and shoes then head to Le Duan Street in Da Nang. Start at the beginning and walk. For bargain hunters this street delivers the goods. See Clothes, Shoes & Accessories.
For parents interested in clothes for their offspring, try Blue Exchange. There are some great kids’ clothes here at bargain prices starting from 50,000 VND (*2 USD) for T shirts.
While the cost of real gold and silver is determined by the market, jewelry still works out cheaper in Vietnam due to lower labor costs. In Hoi An you can pick up beautiful pieces off the shelf or alternatively you may like to get a piece of jewelry copied. For something totally unique: design your own. Vietnamese jewelers, like tailors, are versatile at producing almost any creation you can dream up.
Cost: Silver bracelet 600,000+ VND (*25 USD+) Where to buy: There are many jewelry shops in Hoi An but two of our favorites are Water Lily Silver and Bien Bac.
Interestingly things like computers and phones are not cheaper in Vietnam. However, if you ‘re looking to get your Apple iPhone glass cover replaced, do! It is half the price (700,000 VND). You will also find certain electronic appliances much cheaper in Vietnam. Curling tongs, electric razors and a host of other things will put a grin on your face as you hand over your money!
There are some great Tattoo salons in Hoi An. The hygiene is excellent and the talented tattoo artists on par with any you’d find back home. The only difference is price. If you’re looking to get a tattoo at half the cost you’d pay in Australia or America see Tattoos in Hoi An.
We do not understand why more people don’t come to Vietnam to get their teeth done. The price for a crown in Vietnam is a third of what you’d pay back home in Australia. Either people are totally unaware of this bargain or they fear the standard of dentistry is not good. Well, let us assure you, the standard is excellent. In some cases, far better than practices we’ve been to in Australia. So, if you want to get your teeth whitened like a movie star or need a crown or a mouthful of them, come to Vietnam (and have a holiday as well). Check out our dental section to find out recommendations, procedures and pricing and a comprehensive list of available practitioners.
Need a new pair of prescription glasses that are cheap but only in cost? Some sunglasses? Why not get a few?
And if you haven’t got a prescription with you, no problem. You’ll find everything much cheaper including the frames. See our list of optical shops for cost and details
This was a surprise. Certain medications such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol tablets, Celebrex, Madopar for Parkinsons, HRT drugs, Vastarel MR for angina and many others are a lot cheaper in Vietnam than in Australia.
Of course, there are ‘dodgy’ pharmacies whom will sell you fake pills. However, if you use a reputable pharmacy you will get the real deal and find the money saving unbelievable.
It’s also true that because the gap is often so wide between the two price structures that a few pharmacists will inflate their prices significantly for Western customers. Shop around – there are plenty of honest pharmacies.
Eye Laser Surgery
Eye Laser Surgery in Vietnam costs a third of the price it does in America and Australia. But would you trust a surgeon here getting to work on your eyes? Several years ago the answer would have been absolutely ‘no’. But my, how the world is changing.
While many minor eye complaints are fine in reputable eye hospitals in Vietnam, it is unanimously agreed that for treatments such as laser eye surgery the only place to go is the American Eye Center in Ho Chi Minh City.
Recently, a Hoi An Now family member did just that. She was extremely impressed by their professionalism and the work they did. She was also more than impressed by the price!
Semi-Permanent Makeup: Eyebrow and Eyeliner Tattoos
Many people these days are choosing to get their eyebrows feathered/tattooed. In countries like America or Australia this is a costly service. In Hoi An it is much cheaper and you will get an equally good result – if you go to the right salon. A Hoi An Now staffer went to Mai Mai Dep for the semi-permanent eyeliner procedure and was very happy with the result and the salon’s cleanliness. Mai Mai Dep holds a cosmetology degree and is very experienced. She also does permanent eye-liner, lips and piercings.
Cost: semi-permanent eyeliner tattoos, 1,380,000 VND (58 USD), in the US they cost around 450 USD. If you are thinking of getting your eyebrows tattooed be aware a follow up appointment is required.
These cost between 150 – 200 USD in America. In Hoi An, first-time eyelash extensions will knock you back around 30 – 40 USD (720,000 – 960,000 VND). The work is excellent as many long-lashed Hoi An foreign locals can attest.
Cosmetic Surgery, Botox, Fillers
Botox and Fillers are – interestingly – not cheaper to get Vietnam. This is probably due to the high taxes on foreign imports. However, prices are slowly coming down. As yet, best to get your Botox and Fillers elsewhere.
Whilst there is a robust industry in cosmetic surgery in Vietnam, we do not feel equipped to recommend any particular hospital or surgery at this stage.
Why pay over a hundred dollars to get your hair colored or cut when you can get it done just as well for a quarter of the price in Hoi An?
In Australia a one-hour massage is in the vicinity of a 75+ AUD (1,200,000 VND). In Hoi An an excellent massage by trained masseurs costs 350,000 VND (15 USD). Most salons also offer similar value in manicures, waxing and hair laser removal. There are many spas in Hoi An. Not all are created equal. See ‘The Now’s’ Best Value Spas in Hoi An.
Manicures and pedicures are also significantly cheaper in Vietnam. Ba Le Well Beauty Salon, for example – a favourite among expats, and considered expensive by Vietnamese standards – charges 161,000 – 299,000 VND (7-13 USD) for a pedicure, depending on which service you choose, and 161,000 – 299,000 VND (7-18 USD) for manicures. At cheaper salons, even lower prices can be found. Check out our guide to beauty salons here.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best souvenirs from Vietnam include ceramics, wood carvings, lanterns, rattan bags, coconut lacquered dishes, blankets from Sapa, conical hats, leather bags, Ao Dai and our personal favorites, water puppets.
Vietnam is the land of bargain shopping. Some of the best buys include, leather bags, shoes, tailored suits, paintings, alcohol, jewelry, silk, homeware and wooden carvings. These are all a quarter of what you would pay in your home country and depending on what you choose, the quality is just as good.
Vietnam is famous for its affordable tailoring (particularly Hoi An), high quality leather goods, ethnic minority handicrafts, wood carvings, pottery and Robusta coffee. Beware, Robusta coffee is strong and will send you bouncing off walls after one cup.
Most things are cheap to buy in Vietnam. However, spending on some things can actually save you money. Alcohol, teeth whitening, dental crowns, prescription glasses, tailored suits, tattoos, leather, permanent makeup, haircuts and coloring are but a few of the incredibly cheap bargains this wonderful country has to offer.
Shopping is great in Vietnam. Becoming a millionaire overnight in currency exchange gives you an idea of how affordable things are. Whether it be in the markets, ritzy shopping malls, street vendors, high-class boutiques or in one of the many set price street shops, your shopping addiction will be more than satiated in Vietnam.
Vietnam uses two currencies, the Vietnamese Dong (VND) and the American Dollar. Most cash transactions in Vietnam such as those at restaurants, markets and spas use VND whilst larger businesses like hotels, tour bookings, high class restaurants and shops will use both. Normally, however, the USD is paid using a credit card (though no-one will knock back USD in cash).
A million dong (43 USD) in Vietnam will go a long way. You could buy a meal (50,000 VND), a beer (30,000 VND), a coffee (30,000 VND), a bottle of brand vodka (280,000 VND), a T shirt (150,000 VND), a bamboo sculpture (80,000 VND), an hour’s massage (300,000 VND), a conical hat (50,000 VND) and a street souvenir (30,000 VND).