HelI am a shopaholic! Every time I go travel, I usually dedicate a full day just to go shopping, and I’m sure that many of you shopaholics will do the same when you visit Vietnam. Vietnam, especially Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is a shoppers paradise. Do you have a trip coming up soon and so are wondering where to shop in Saigon? Well, this article will answer your question.
Here’s a fun fact: LOCALS BARELY SHOP IN BEN THANH MARKET! Sure, the market is emblematic of Saigon but it has become such a tourist trap that the locals prefer to avoid it. You can still find a bargain in there for sure, and the market makes a beautiful background for photo-ops, but other than that and the interesting history behind it, there’s not much else when it comes to shopping. It’s no secret that Ben Thanh Market among others such as Saigon Square have prices that are inflated for tourists. There are so many other places to go to for a bargain, and the shopping gets even more fun when you know all the “hidden” spots that locals frequent. The key is to do as the locals do, and lucky for you, I’m a local!
Shopping malls or markets or streets?
When you Google “Where to shop in Saigon” most of the answers you receive will be Ben Thanh market, Binh Tay market, Saigon Square and a bunch of fancy shopping malls such as Takashimaya, Saigon Centre, Vincom Centre, and Dimond Plaza. To be fair, those markets are good for buying souvenirs, but they don’t have much else where shopping is concerned. The malls, of course, provide similar clothes and prices as you can find back home, and they are full of international brands. Depending on what you seek, you can choose where to go. This article is however about markets, and not the popular ones. But of the lesser known markets and shopping streets in Saigon. You can say they are somewhat ‘hidden’.
Before you scroll down for our picks, you can follow through to these links if you want more information about upscale malls or popular markets. They cover everything you need.
Upscale malls: Ultimate guide to Shopping in Saigon
Markets: Ultimate guide to Saigon’s Many Markets
Detailed articles about individual markets: Ben Thanh Market, Collector’s Market, Tan Dinh Market, Yersin (Dan Sinh) Market, Ho Thi Ky Flower Market, and Cai Rang Floating Market. Clicking on these names will take you to a new page ?
Top local spots for shopping in Saigon
01) The eyewear street
Most of the youth in Saigon usually shop for stylish eyeglass frames on this street instead of visiting any optical shop. You can find many different glasses and sunglasses for both adults and children. You will be overwhelmed with the thousands of glasses that come in different shapes, sizes and colors hung on the display boards. The chances of finding your “dream glasses” you once saw a sexy actor/actress wear on TV is now higher. Congratulations!
The price fluctuates from 40,000 – 60,000 VND for a pair of glasses and 60,000 – 120,000 VND for sunglasses, depending on how good at bargaining you are. However, my advice is that you should only go for the eyeglass frame and then get the lenses done at a proper optical center with trained and certified staff later. As you can expect, if you get the lenses out here for a cheap price, the quality will be subpar and it could end up damaging your eyes. You don’t want to risk that.
Here is a trick when shopping here: Don’t hesitate to drive a hard bargain. You can negotiate the price down to 2/3 or even 50% of what the seller initially suggests. For example, if they tell you your glasses are worth 100,000 VND, you can lower the price to 40,000 – 50,000 VND. If they don’t agree, just walk away or verbally and the negotiation and if they call you back, you know that they are still making a profit, so it’s a win-win. Or in Vietnam, they say it’s a “Nguyen-Nguyen” situation ?
Address: Vendor of Ho Xuan Huong Street, Ward 6, District 3
Opening hours: 8 am – 8 pm
02) Saigon Flea Market
Saigon Flea Market is known as the ‘Market of Artists’ because that is where the local and expat artisans spread their love of creating handmade crafts and vintage clothes to the community. There are two things I love about this market. First is the great location. Phu My Hung is one of the calmest areas in town – there is no crazy beeps and honks from traffic that drives you crazy sometimes and the scenery is really romantic. Saigon Flea Market is based on the first floor of the Boomerang restaurant, which has a seductive river view. Unlike other flea markets, the products sold at the Saigon Flea Market are quite unique and the price is reasonable. For example, I once found a rare Pu’er tea here. You can find remarkable jewelry, custom notebook covers, vintage clothing and a bunch of cute home décor items that can melt your heart.
Address: 1st floor, Boomerang Restaurant, 107 Ton Dat Tien, Tan Phu Ward, District 7
Opening hours: Sunday from 11 am – 8 pm
Website: Saigon Flea Market
03) Hello Weekend Market
Third on our shopping in Saigon list – Hello Weekend Market. You can shop for clothing, accessories, beauty products and home decor at Hello Weekend Market. Many online shops and new brands that want to approach their potential customers tend to bring their products to this flea market. This is a great chance for you to look for your new favorite brands not common among the public yet. But you can also find items from brands that are popular among locals too. Some are Soda Pop, RẬP design, Dottie and so on. This market is not all about new products but you can also find some second-hand items – similar to garage sales in western countries. Another thumbs up for this market is that they have created a beautiful photo booth background for those who love modeling so they can pose for a few Insta-worthy pictures. All this is enough reason to go there, right?
Address: The location is frequently changing, so follow their Facebook page for more information.
Opening hours: Weekend, 10 am – 9 pm
Facebook: Hello Weekend Market
04) Pham Van Hai Market
There is no better place to practice your bargain skills than a market. Even though this fashion market is not as huge as the Pratunam in Bangkok, it still requires a lot of time to check out. There are about 1,500 stalls in Pham Van Hai market. This market welcomes a lot of young girls and middle-aged women every day regardless of whether it is a weekday or weekend. Most of the items being sold here are collected from factories in Vietnam or imported from Thailand and China. The quality is fine and the price is reasonable, after you bargain, of course!
This is the reference price for you to know what to expect when negotiating the price there:
Basic shirts/Tee: 40,000 – 80,000 VND
Stylish tops: 100,000 – 200,000 VND
Jeans: 180,000 – 300,000 VND
Dresses: 120,000 – 300,000 VND
Address: Pham Van Hai Street, Ward 3, Tan Binh District.
Opening hours: Every day from 7 am – 7 pm
05) The outlet stores
Those who are into western style (like me) will go hunting for stylish clothes at some special outlet stores. If you notice and read the tag on your favorite dress that you bought at F21, you will see it was made in Vietnam. Ladies, you are in the homeland of your clothing. By saying this, I mean you can buy some basic items of F21, ZARA, H&M or whatever brands you like without paying as much as you do at home. Don’t be surprised to see the basic top that you are wearing being sold at an outlet store at half the price you initially paid. Despite some garment defects that the girl you hate can barely point out (i.emissing or skipped stitches), the items are in good condition.
Store name: Ombre
Address: 3rd floor 35 Nguyen Van Trang, District 1
Opening time: 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Store name: Lau Xuat Khau
Address: 2/37 Cao Thang, Ward 5, District 3
Opening time: 10:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Facebook: Lau Xuat Khau
Store name: Virion Shop
Address: 148/3 Bau Cat 1, Ward 12, Tan Binh District
Opening time: 9:00 AM – 9 PM
06) The high street Nguyen Trai
In the evening, when the weather is cooler, you can take a walk along Nguyen Trai Street to explore the hundreds of clothing stores Nguyen Trai offers you. You will see lots of clothing stores and vendors and many of them will try to draw you in. Literally, there will be guys saying “come see clothes!” Most of the items being sold on Nguyen Trai Street can be found at Pham Van Hai market for a cheaper price! But if you don’t like the crazy crowds at the market, you can check out this street. Do notice that the clothing sold at the stalls on the side streets are always cheaper than in the shops. By the way, don’t hesitate to bargain when shopping here.
7) The old apartments
Some old apartments in Saigon are not “old” and boring at all. In fact, they are usually small bustling communities, where the chatty youth usually hang out at over a cup of coffee or where the cliques go shopping. The building at 42 Ton That Thiep is the most famous one. At first sight, you may find it hard to believe that someone really set up a business in this boring and dark zone. But once you step in, you will never want to leave.
The shop owners have done a very good job at playing with colors to make their shops become more attractive. If you love minimalist style or grunge style, you are at the right place. Some brands you should explore areas All ‘Bout Him, Outfix, Highcut, Aspirin, Bloomode, Ssstutter and The Paiir. The building at 26 Ly Tu Trong is also worth a visit. The art gallery on the ground floor together with the abandoned stairs gives this old apartment an ancient touch. The trendy girls in town will not want to miss shopping Soda Pop, Libe, Sophia, Polkaholics, Chic a Choo, and Xeo Xo. The stores in the old apartments are perfect choices for when you feel tired of playing the pricing game and want to support the local designers.
Ton That Thiep apartment: 42 Ton That Thiep, Ben Nghe Ward, Dist.1
Ly Tu Trong apartment: 26 Ly Tu Trong, Ben Nghe Ward, Dist.1
Tips and tricks!
In order to have a great time while shopping in Saigon, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
_ Vietnamese people are very friendly. You should try to chat with the sellers and be their friend. Once you win their heart, you can buy your favorite shorts with a super cheap price. You don’t even have to bargain. Sometimes, they may even give you extra stuff.
_ Most of the clothing will be in Asian sizes, which means the size will be limited from XXS to M in western standard.
_ The owners cannot speak English so it is better to go with a local friend or you should speak Vietnamese. Locals love it when you try Vietnamese ?
_ Always keep your eyes on your belongings.
_ The majority of the shops in Vietnam don’t have a return policy. Think twice before purchasing and check the quality carefully.
_ Credit card payment is not very popular in Vietnam so even if you love paying by card, break the habit and bring Vietnamese cash with you.
“Wandering around shops is the best way to exercise” -said anonymously. Let’s shop until you drop! Let us know your experiences in the comments below! And if you run out of cash, here’s a great follow up about cash, credit and ATM’s in Vietnam.
PS: Make sure to save this blog to return to if you need more info! The links provided in this blog are also a lot of help. Happy shopping!
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