It might be a bit surprising to hear, but Vietnam is actually one of the best places to visit if you love shopping. There’s a bit of everything here: high end stores, small boutique shops, local markets and chain stores. The locals love to shop, which you’ll notice walking down the streets in the big cities. Everyone’s walking around with a bag filled with the trendiest clothes. If you’re going to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s biggest city, you’ll find tons of shopping malls where you can easily spend a full day in. There’s Takashimaya, Crescent Mall, AEON Mall, Vincom Center, Diamond Plaza, Eden Mall, Parkson Plaza, Hung Vuong Plaza, and many more. The list is almost endless. Whether you’re looking for clothes, jewelries, electronics or just some souvenirs, you’ll find it all here.
Here are some tips in Vietnam so you can get the ultimate shopping experience.
Do your research before and prepare
If you want to get a local experience, head to the markets. But do your research before you start bargaining or at least think of a price before. This way, you’ll minimize the risk of getting ripped off. If you know any locals or have friends who’s stayed in Vietnam for longer than you, it could be worth it to ask them how much they’d normally pay for whatever you want to buy. Otherwise, it could be easy to just blurt out a price and it’s way higher than what you’d normally buy. It could also go the other way – you’ll say a price that’s way lower than what even locals would pay, so the vendors will probably be offended and maybe even mad. So remember to do some research before. It’s always better to come prepared!
Be good at haggling
Practice your poker face and be firm with the price. The vendors know what they’re doing so they’ll try to make you pay at least double agreeing on a lower price. Some people I traveled with were terrible at haggling, so they just agreed on the first price or asked very kindly if they could go a bit lower. If the people selling you things sees that you’re unsure, they’ll just say no and ask you to pay the price they asked for. So practice your haggling skills, be firm with them (but don’t be rude!) and stand your ground. If you think the price they’re asking for is downright ridiculous, because it can be, then just state the price you’re willing to pay and then walk away. If they call you back and agree on the price – good for you! If not, then you’ll most likely find what you’re looking for further down the street.
If you don’t like haggling, go to the shopping malls
What’s good about shopping malls is that all the stores have fixed prices. You won’t have to enter an H&M for example and haggle. If you’re not a fan of haggling but you really need new clothes, why not check out some of the shopping malls. There are tons of them in the big cities! There’s no shortage of them in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for example. In fact, shopping here is almost inevitable. There’s so many malls spread out over the cities, boutique shops and tons of markets if you’re up for the challenge.
Don’t be stingy
Too often did I meet travelers who were so stingy with their money. Haggling is part of the shopping experience in Vietnam and you will most likely pay a bit more than what locals usually do, no matter how good you are at bargaining. But some travelers start bargaining when it’s just about a few cents. Don’t be like them! The locals are already earning a low salary and a few cents or even a dollar won’t hurt your wallet. Don’t get ripped off, but don’t be stingy either.
Vietnam is a shopper’s paradise and there’s no limits to what you can buy here. One of my favourite things to do in Ho Chi Minh City was to just walk around the streets and walk in to the local boutique shops, buy some clothes, go to the markets for fruits and then save all my souvenir shopping for Hoi An and Hanoi. Shopping is supposed to be fun as well, so get out there and start spending!
Remember to apply for a Vietnam visa before you intend on arriving to the country. There are three visa options. You can either apply for an online visa, Visa on Arrival and E-Visa, or you can go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply for a visa with them. It’s highly recommended to get the online visas though since the application process is much easier. You can do it from wherever you are in the world! But if you’re arriving to Vietnam by land, you can’t get an online visa. You must go via the Embassy then.