Shopping in Vietnam 101

By Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

Of all the many places in the world I have travelled, Vietnam has by far been my favourite country to shop! I personally preferred to use US dollars, so I knew what I am paying. The Vietnamese dong (VND) was very confusing to me. Believe it or not, you are NOT rich when you have a fistful of $4,230,019.40 VND; it equals approximately $200 US! If you decide to use US dollars, its best to have a lot of small currency, so you can give exact change for your purchases. The shop keepers will mostly give you VND as your change.

The fun of the shopping sport in Vietnam is the bargaining! The price starts high, you bid low and you meet somewhere closer to your bid. For example, I wanted to buy a purse; I asked how much? She said $600,000.00 VND which is approximately $29 US, I say no…. $15 US, she says no $25 US, after we went back and forth a few times, I got my purse for $15 US! Bargaining is expected and acceptable. They do have a limit, and if they let you walk away without reaching a deal, your bid was too low.

Another fun shopping experience was getting clothes made by one of the many tailors in Vietnam. Hoi An was my personal favourite town for visiting tailors. I settled a deal with a tailor by the name of Mr. Xe. I wanted to have some shirts made for my husband, so I brought one of his shirts for them to replicate. Two linen and one dress shirt made of cotton cost me $20 each, at home in Toronto they would have cost me at over $100 each! On the flight over, I was browsing through a Vogue magazine, I saw a beautiful pantsuit at some extraordinarily expensive price, I showed the tailor the picture of the pantsuit, my measurements were taken and that same evening I had my final fitting! The pants and jacket cost me a whopping $75 US. A girl can have a really extensive wardrobe at these prices!

We did a lot of awesome sightseeing while in Vietnam besides shopping, but for this gal Vietnam was a shopper’s paradise!

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Mary Jo Is a journalism and language arts major from the University of Minnesota. She was the travel editor for Marco Polo Travel Magazine for ten years and the editor for Travelroads.com.She has traveled extensively through Latin America, Asia, Europe and the United States as a travel journalist.