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Conical hats in Vietnam | © Lucas Jans/Flickr
Conical hats in Vietnam | © Lucas Jans/Flickr
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13 Amazing Christmas Gifts You Can Only Buy in Vietnam

Picture of Matthew Pike
Writer
Updated: 17 October 2017
As you roll, stroll and glide your way through Vietnam, you’ll have no shortage of choices for things to stuff in your luggage and bring home. Here are 13 gifts your friends, family and others would love to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Conical Hat – Nón Lá

This iconic headwear brings to mind vast rice paddies and murky rivers snaking through them. They’re about as Vietnamese as it gets, and there are countless places throughout the country to buy them—from plain, cookie-cutter varieties, to those with hand-crafted scenes painted on them. You can pick and choose to match the person.

Conical hats in Vietnam
Conical hats in Vietnam | © Lucas Jans/Flickr
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War Souvenirs

When the Americans finally scattered at the end of the Vietnam War—or as it’s called in Vietnam, the American War—they didn’t take everything with them. They left behind Zippos, coins, helmets, patches and so much more, now for sale in Ho Chi Minh City at the Dan Sinh Market.

Dan Sinh Market, Yersin, Nguyen Thai Binh, Ho Chi Minh City

Áo Dài

The recipient of this gift might not find too many occasions to wear it, but it would certainly stand out among the other gifts because of its beauty and the long tradition of Vietnamese fashion that’s behind it—a sure way to make Christmas morning just a bit more memorable.

The Vietnamese ao dai
The Vietnamese ao dai | © Tran Trung Kien/Flickr

Communist Propaganda

Billboards and posters with oddly-faced proletariat working for the common good can still be seen around Vietnam, but you might get in a bit of trouble if you try to steal an authentic version. Instead, head to a souvenir shop and pick up a poster. They’re creepy, hilarious and definitely a great gift for any comrades back home.

Posters available in travel size
Posters available in travel size | © Prince Roy/Flickr

Vietnamese Coffee

The robusta beans that grow in the highlands of central Vietnam make for some delicious coffee. They’re best brewed in a French press, or in a slow-drip Vietnamese set-up, either of which would also add to your gift. And, since Christmas morning usually happens earlier than people normally care to wake up on a day off, an aromatic brew of Vietnamese coffee would be the perfect gift.

Pearl Jewellery

There are several pearl farms throughout Vietnam and many shops and jewelers producing quality pieces nearby—often within sight of the cerulean waters the little hardened spheres were plucked from. A string of authentic pearls is a treasured possession anywhere in the world, so bring back a new heirloom from your holiday in Vietnam.

Pearl Farm, Trần Hưng Đạo, Phú Quốc

Cửa Hàng Nữ Trang Sài Gòn Pearls, Hùng Vương, Nha Trang

Silk

You can pretty well get silk anywhere in the world nowadays, but Vietnamese textile markets are filled with prints and designs you won’t find anywhere else.

Lacquer Ware

These glossy pieces are sold throughout Southeast Asia, among other places, but the ones in Vietnam display local art. They add an exotic flair to any room they’re displayed in, so gift them to those eclectic friends or relatives of yours.

Lacquer being applied
Lacquer being applied | © Bell and Jeff/Flickr

Snake Wine

This gift will probably scare the hell out of a few people on Christmas morning, but a bit of adrenaline can liven things up. You can find a variety of snakes and scorpions posed artfully in decorative bottles, and don’t worry, the venom is rendered ineffective by the ethanol. The mental battle the person goes through before accepting a drink from your gift is a different story, though.

Scary spirits
Scary spirits | © shankar s./Flickr

Fish Sauce

From barrels of decomposing fish parts to the kitchen of somebody special, fish sauce is an acquired taste—but once you have it, you crave hints of it in your meals. You could be the person to introduce somebody to this interesting flavor.

Vietnamese Paintings

You can get paintings anywhere in the world, but they won’t depict Vietnamese beauty and traditions. There are a wide assortment of styles represented in shops, which you can find near any touristy area. So, browse until you find one to match the personality of that somebody back home.

Vietnamese paintings for sale
Vietnamese paintings for sale | © garycycles8/Flickr

Embroidery

The best places to find unique embroideries are near remote ethnic tribes, especially in the North around Sapa. These colorful pieces are handmade, complex, and beautiful.

Embroidered fashions in Sapa
Embroidered fashions in Sapa | © Jorge Cancela/Flickr

Pajama outfits – Áo bà ba

These outfits are Vietnamese versions of what people wear to bed back home, but in Vietnam, these are stylish fashions, ripe with flashy designs and practicality. You can buy them off-the-shelf, but one of the many tailors in the country would be more than happy to stitch one up for you to bring home and slide under the tree.

Riding in style
Riding in style | © Emilio Labrador/Flickr