Guide to Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon, is truly a shopping wonderland for every style, budget and wish list. This city has the entire range of shopping venue options: impressive, modern malls, specialized large “box” stores, small and cute boutiques, tourist markets, local markets and even shop-front-lined, dedicated shopping streets! Each traveller (or local expat) has unique shopping needs or wishes and Saigon’s shopping set-up makes for a fun treasure hunt.
You can find everything from cultural handicrafts to high-end designer label brand clothes, and everything in between, including imitation brand name clothes, shoes, jewelry, foods, home décor and more. And (of course high-end labels aside), most things you want to buy are available at a fraction of a typical overseas cost! As tourism has exponentially increased in the past couple of decades in Ho Chi Minh City, so has the presence of global brands and also trendy boutiques that cater to the tourist crowd.
We hope that our shopping venue profiles help give you direction in your shopping adventures so you can maximize your pleasure and find what you’re looking for at bargain prices!
There’s really nothing better than bringing home gifts for loved ones and also personal travel souvenirs of distinctive and matchless items that you’ve hunted down in a foreign land. Not too much sounds cooler than, “Oh yeah, I got that at a boutique in Saigon.”
Things to get:
Some cultural items include: old propaganda posters or the handicrafts that Vietnam is famous for, including bamboo-ware, ceramics and lacquerware.
Food goods: Vietnamese coffee and tea and candied coconut are the most popular.
Fashion shopping: Prevalent clothing at markets includes silks and hand-woven fabrics with a reputation for high quality. At the outlet market malls like Saigon Square, you can find overstock brands like Forever 21, Zara, Mango and cold weather wear, like North Face. Also, like many SE Asian destinations, you will see all of the usual holiday souvenirs such as T-shirts, hippie/baggy yoga pants, beaded and embroidered handbags, chopsticks and tea sets.
And~ as we discuss in our Guide To Getting Custom Clothes Made in Vietnam, you can supplement your finds with personal designed clothes, shoes and jewelry.
Where to go: To find the best bargains on clothes, shoes, accessories, souvenirs, and food, the best places to go are: Saigon Square 1, Saigon Square 2, Zen Plaza, Lucky Plaza, and the markets: Cho Ben Thanh, Cho Binh Tay and Ly Chinh Thang shopping street. All of these are in District 1, except for Cho Binh Tay which is in District 5, aka Cholon/Chinatown, and Ly Chinh Thang is in District 3.
To find the best international brands and luxury shopping, the best places to go are: Vincom Center and Union Square, Diamond Plaza, The Crescent Mall, Parkson Plaza and Bitexco, as well as endless specialized boutiques!
Handbags and Luggage Street:
Le Lai street between New World Hotel and Ben Thanh Market
This entire street has stalls selling a variety of bags and luggage options, most being the well known brands such as North Face, Samsonite, etc. This is probably not the best place for most gals to find a fashionable handbag or wallet though, as the better bets for those items would be Saigon Square or even Binh Tay Market in Cholon.
Clothes Shopping Street:
Nguyen Trai in District 5
This street draws in local shoppers and many Chinese locals, as it is located in Cholon/Chinatown. The sellers only speak Vietnamese and Cantonese, but if you can communicate prices, (the stall owner often pulls out a calculator to show this), you can find some of the city’s best deals on clothing, shoes and accessories.
Ly Chinh Thang St. and Luu Van Lung in District 4
You can find many of the shoes that you see at the Saigon Square shopping centers on this shoes shopping street- and at a noticeably cheaper price! Unlike many places in Asia, they actually have “big” sizes often, too, and even a great selection of boots! Sometimes you need to take the price you’re paying into consideration and be aware that not all of the shoes are of high quality. Use your judgement to evaluate the structure of the shoes before purchasing, as many are imitation brands and the heel or main body of the shoe may show wear and tear very quickly.
Huyen Tran Cong Chua street (Behind the Reunification Palace in District 1)
This street is famous for its dedication to sports equipment, sports accessories, and sports apparel. Nike even has an outlet here!
Le Cong Kieu Street (Opposite Ben Thanh Market and not far from the Fine Arts Museum)
This street features many small shops selling antiques and original arts objects. Unfortunately, you have to keep in mind that many things that are touted as antique may actually be a fake or imitation. Regardless, the items are inexpensive and a treasure hunting trip on this street is so worth it for seekers of eclectic home decor. Within the range of this 100-meter street, you can uncover cool vases and ceramics, Buddha images or statue figures, ivory items, Asian-style food carriers, and “vintage” finds including coins, money and old electronics items like radios, TVs and lamps. Make sure to bring your camera!
You just may find a diamond in the rough during your hunt...and take note that it is actually illegal to export true antiques out of the country anyway.
Tran Phu Street, District 5 or Bui Vien Street, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City is a surprisingly talented town of artists! You can purchase amazing quality paintings- either original pieces or imitation artworks, or bring a photo to have duplicated! The city hosts many of the talented local artists in art galleries that are definitely worth a visit, but a stroll on either of these paintings streets will evoke similar feelings of being in a gallery, (or maybe on a fantasized street in Europe, lined with hopeful artists :). Both streets have similar selections, yet more locals tend to shop at the street in District 5.