Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City
Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City is pure joy for avid souvenir hunters and shopaholics. Whatever your budget, make sure you have plenty of space in your luggage as you are sure to fill it, whether you bargain hunt at the city’s many markets or browse the small, traditional shops that are still found in the main shopping areas. Alternatively, you can splurge in the high-class and international designer boutiques that have mushroomed in recent years, but don’t leave without having some clothes made to measure.
Many shops are found along Dong Khoi but close by are Hai Ba Trung, Le Thanh Ton and Le Loi, which are also worth a look. For silk clothes and accessories try Khoi Silk at 107 Dong Khoi.
Busy Ben Thanh Market on Le Loi is crammed with inexpensive but quality clothes and souvenirs. In the evening, a night market opens outside the building including dozens of food stalls. Binh Tay Market in Cholon throngs with people from early morning until early evening, and the gloomy, narrow walkways are crammed with consumer items and exotic foodstuffs.
There are now several very smart shopping malls in the city including Diamond Plaza on Le Duan and Parkson Saigontourist Plaza on Le Thanh Ton.
Shops are generally open seven days a week from around 0800 until between 2000 and 2200.
Silk clothes and accessories, in particular handbags, are readily available as are beautifully made hand-embroidered items. Lacquerware is extremely good value and the traditional designs are now complemented by some funky new patterns. Colourful woven bags are always a good buy as is clothing made by the hill tribes of the Central Highlands.
VAT is included on most items sold and 10% is the standard. As part of a pilot scheme, foreign visitors are able to claim 85% of that VAT back at the airport for purchases of at least VND2million (GBP £64.50; USD$87.70). They must also be unused and allowed on an aircraft. Ask in the shop if they are registered for the scheme, which has been extended from 1 July 2014.