Essential Shopping Guide for Ho Chi Minh: What to Buy and Where to Shop
Ho Chi Minh, otherwise known as Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. It is a place with so many secrets to discover from hidden restaurants, coffee houses, and speciality shops for those awesome shopping sprees! If you wake up one day and think, “Why don’t I visit Ho Chi Minh just for the fun of it?” We are telling you – that is a brilliant idea. You definitely should!
From Singapore, the flight only takes about two hours so you can easily plan your trip on your day off or during a holiday. (Or, you can just go when you’re dead bored and want to live a little!) To make things easier for you, here are the essentials and SOP’s about everything on shopping in Ho Chi Minh. (And our best travel tips to enjoy the city!)
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Best Places To Shop In Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh is rather like Aladdin’s cave – a treasure trove of great finds. As you make your way through shopping strips, marketplaces, and department stores, you’ll soon find yourself mesmerized with the city’s fresh produce, fabrics, clothes, Vietnamese coffee beans, household supplies and other novelty items. So when you’re here, we definitely recommend these amazing places for the best shopping experience.
1. Sadec District (91 Mac Thi Buoi, D1; 3A Ton Duc Thang, D1; 63 Xuan Thuy, D2, Ho Chi Minh)
Looking for unique homewares? The Sadec District specializes on giving a modern twist to ceramic, glass, wood and bamboo crafts that originated from South-east-Asian villages. Here, you can get your hands on teapots, bowls, linen bags, and trays. You can bring some of these for your mom. Why not, right? Store hours are from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm every day.
2. L’Usine (151/5 Dong Khoi, D1; 70B Le Loi, D1, Ho Chi Minh)
L’Usine is a trend-setting store and has made a name for itself as a lifestyle brand. The shop partners with local artisans such as Sweet de Luxe, Sense Asia, Saigon Charlie’s, and La Petite Epicerie. They have a variety of products including Arabica coffee chocolate bars, fashion items, and all-natural food of premium quality from Vietnam. They are open daily from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm.
3. Ben Thanh Market (Central Ho Chi Minh City, District 1)
This market is an important symbol of Saigon city. It is where you get access to all things Vietnamese with local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, Vietnam’s traditional garment áo dài, and of course local cuisine. Ben Thanh Market opens at 6 am every day and closes at 6 pm.
4. Soai Kinh Lam Fabric Market (545, Trần Hưng Đạo, Ward 14, District 5, Hồ Chí Minh)
Need something tailored or bespoke? How about making a stop at the largest fabric market in Saigon. You get to select the exact fabric, texture, color scheme and pattern you want for a bespoke piece. Practically all kinds of fabric are available here. You have chiffon, velvet, spandex, cotton khaki, and even fabrics for curtains and other sheets you may need to spruce up your home. Soai Kinh Lam is open from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm.
5. Dan Sinh Market (104 Yersin St, Ho Chi Minh City)
Known also as Yersin market, this place is truly unique so you should definitely try it out. It used to be a gambling area for American soldiers during the Vietnam War but is now a place of trade and commerce. They sell really cool vintage military items, camping gear, war memorabilia, combat tents and others. If you are an adventurer and collector, this is a haven! You will surely get a kick out of their authentic pieces, antiques, and replicas. They are open from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
6. Saigon River Shop (Saigon River Shop, 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, D2, Ho Chi Minh)
If you’re more minimalist and contemporary, why not get your curiosity satisfied at Saigon River Shop? They feature designer furniture, tableware, and lighting, which have already made their way in London. Among their many prized pieces are concrete teapots, lavastone pieces, votives and hurricanes, vases, glassware, teak, coffee tables, and other pieces of intricately-designed pieces items. You’ll definitely be a showstopper if you any of these in your apartment. Shop here within 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays
7. Amaï House of Ceramics (Amaï, 63 Xuan Thuy, D2, Ho Chi Minh)
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The best place to get your hands on beautiful pieces of ceramics is at Amaï. The store’s name means “wow!” and it is just right for what they have to offer. Their ceramic plates, bowls, and spoons have a distinct romantic character that is simply alluring. They also sell coffee pots and stainless-steel phin filters. They are open from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm daily.
8. WOO – World of Opportunities (WOO, 32 Tran Ngoc Dien, D2, Ho Chi Minh)
Zen, anyone? WOO is a home of scents and home fragrances. It’s a total boho hangout! They are eco-friendly with their sustainable and handmade packaging. Their signature line includes citrus-and-musk Radiance, zesty Lime, floral Tranquility, and spice Treasure. They also offer fragrant wax cubes and 100-hour candles which can easily be packed in your luggage. They open at around 9:00 am daily.
Best Times to Travel to Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City is nearer to Singapore than Bangkok, making this city a better option for your weekend getaway. And, flights are cheap if you’re flying Tiger air and Jetstar.
If you’re concerned about budget, it’s good to know that currency at Ho Chi Minh is cheap against the Singapore Dollar. You’ll truly enjoy your trip at affordable prices in about every place and everything you want to try. Plus, Ho Chi Minh has that European vibe with their various French and European bakeries and restaurants. Getting excited? Good. Be sure to book your trip at these times.
You might want to book your trip during the drier months, from December to April. Why? Well, because the temperature will be friendlier. Another reason is that it is interesting to see how the Vietnamese celebrate Christmas. There will surely be grand sales and cool events to hang out at. It is at this time that the Vietnamese New Year, “Tet Festival,” is also celebrated (late January or early February.) Everything just bursts with vibrant colour.
Monsoon season, May to September is the best time to visit if you’re travelling on a budget. Although you’d expect some rainfall, they come in short bursts so this wouldn’t be much of a concern. There are big holidays at this time such as May Day (May 1) and Vietnam National Day (September 2). A word of caution – don’t visit from July to November because this is the peak period for typhoons.
Ho Chi Minh City Travel Tips
Okay, so you’ve booked your trip and have your ducks in a row. But then when you’ve finally arrived at HCM, things just go crazy or you realize you’re not having a blast. Wah lau! What now? Well, to avoid this kind of situation, be sure to read through these tips before you land to make the most out of your trip.
- For accommodation at fair prices, you can look into places in District 1. There are affordable guesthouses, dorms or backpacker accommodations on Le Lai and Pham Ngu Lao Street.
- When exploring the city, always be on the safe side. Don’t bring too much cash with you or carry large bags. Don’t walk back to your hotel at night, instead, take a taxi. Avoid using your smartphone in public places. Also, one thing about HCM? Crossing the road is stressful with the big volume of motorbikes, yikes! Religiously stop, look and listen at all times and use crosswalks.
- Why not enjoy the sights and sounds of Ho Chi Minh on a scooter tour? Yes, friends. This is a must-try. Scooter tours are popular here and there are different kinds. One recommendable tour is the XO Foodie tour. You’ll be taken around town with your Go Pros on your helmets and just cruise through Ho Chi Minh’s streets! It is insane! It usually runs for three hours and you get to enjoy five meals, Vietnamese style!
- When in Saigon, try their Red Saigon beer. It is so damn good! They don’t export this, by the way. You can enjoy this with anything on the menu. The lighter version is Green Saigon beer. So you know, why not, lah?
- To experience the high life even at least once in your life, plan a night on one of the rooftop bars that overlook the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City. You can even enjoy a romantic sunset with the best view of the town.
With all this travel starter pack of things-to-know, you’re finally set! If and when you’ve booked your trip, you should be proud of yourself, you know? You deserve a break and you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your hard-earned labour. Make Ho Chi Minh part of your travel goals or allow it to jumpstart your life as a jet-setter. Now, the only thing left to do is be as any wanderlust would be and just let Ho Chi Minh take your fancy!