As a general rule of thumb, the more luxurious and verifiable the item, the less you’ll save in Vietnam. If you go to a high-end retailer, the prices will look similar to London or Paris or Milan. The real savings come from shopping at local markets and boutique shops. Fake luxury goods are a problem, but that’s to be expected at such low prices.
Aside from brand names, tailored clothing should also be on your shopping list when you’re in Vietnam, and especially when you’re in Hoi An. Tailored items – dresses, shirts, trousers – start at approximately $20 USD, but that price depends on the quality of the work and the fabric. A nice suit will cost approximately $100 USD, and if you have an upcoming wedding, you should consider getting your dress made in Vietnam. You could save a lot.
Simple electronics – things like electric razors and curling irons – are much cheaper in Vietnam. As you go up in complexity, though, the prices tend to reflect global norms. The latest smartphone will cost you about the same here as it would anywhere else. Likewise with a new gaming laptop. High-end electronics are in demand around the world, so the prices don’t fluctuate much – regardless of local income.
If you have too many bare walls and shelves at home, then Vietnam is a shopper’s paradise for you. While you’ll find plenty of souvenirs at the touristy markets, be sure to seek out local art galleries and shops to find the real gems. Most places deal with tourists on a regular basis as well, so they’ve perfected how to make their wares safe for travel.
For uniquely Vietnamese artwork, try Bat Trang ceramics village near Hanoi, or one of the art galleries in Hoi An. To add color to your home and wardrobe, look for pieces made by one of the ethnic tribes in Vietnam. The mountains near Danang, as well as along the northern border with China, have many small communities that produce wonderfully intricate fabrics and other items.
Vietnam produces a lot of quality silk, and even if you’re unsure of what you want to make, you can buy a roll to bring home with you. You’ll save a lot on shipping. Here are the best places to buy silk in Vietnam.
The prices for jewelry are largely determined by the markets, so pure gold, silver and most precious gems won’t be any cheaper. You can save money with the lower cost of labor, though – but do your research before you choose a shop, as some places use foreigners for easy profit. For beautiful and authentic pearls, check out the pearl farms on Phu Quoc island.
And finally, one that many people wouldn’t consider as shopping in the normal sense, but the savings are too big to ignore. If you have any overdue dental work and are planning a trip to Vietnam, definitely look into having it done here. There are dentists and dental surgeons here who will do the same work you’d get done back home for a fraction of the price. Same goes for cosmetic surgery. Keep in mind, though, that among all the cheaper options here, you will still get what you pay for. Do your research before choosing.