Gifts and souvenirs from Vietnam
Most visitors like to take souvenirs and gifts with them when they go home. The following suggestions are ‘very Vietnamese’, but not too heavy or bulky. We can provide advice, and assist you to get what you want at a fair price. Your guide will also be a good source of information.
Good quality Vietnamese tea:
This can be bought in specialist shops in the large cities. A kilogramme of top-quality tea costs around $8.00 US if lightly flavoured with flower or herb ‘essence’, or about $5.00 US without flavouring.
Good quality 'Trung Nguyen' Vietnamese coffee
A kilogramme of top-notch Robusta coffee beans from Trung Nguyen (the Central Highlands) costs around $4.00 US. Arabica will be more expensive. An unusual present would be some ‘Weasel Coffee', but it is advisable to tell the recipient how it is produced after he or she has experienced its mellow taste (check the 'Eating and Drinking' page if you haven't already done so!)
Ethnic scarves, garments, etc.
Items made by members of Vietnam’s many ethnic groups make excellent and inexpensive souvenirs and presents. They are available from shops in the tourist areas of cities, and from towns near communities of ethnic people. However, ethnic products have usually been bought at low prices by intermediaries, denying the producers a fair price for their work. We recommend buying direct from the producers wherever possible.
As a rough guide, a reasonable amount to pay for a woven scarf should be from $2.00 US upwards, depending on the complexity of pattern and design. A garment, such as a woven, embroidered or appliquéd jacket, should cost from $15.00 US upwards. Natural dyes are often used, so colours should be fixed before washing.
Lacquerware is a long-standing Vietnamese tradition. Usually applied to a papier mache object, it is both light and durable. It is also an artwork technique. Prices for lacquerware articles begin at $1.00 US for a small dish, $3.00 US for a large dish, $10 for a set of table mats, and so on. However, the quality of lacquerware depends upon the number or processes used – good quality products are expensive. A wide range of lacquerware, and lacquer artwork and objects, are available in souvenir shops and galleries in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Larger items such as ornaments and furniture are good value – we can arrange for them to be shipped to customers’ home addresses.
Ceramics and pottery
Products vary from high-quality porcelain to simple fired clay objects, and the range is enormous. As an indication of prices, a good quality plate from Bat Trang Village costs about $2.00 US and a café cup about $1.00 US. Small tea sets make good presents.
Hand-embroidered items are good value and excellent souvenirs. Prices vary according to detail and the quality of the base material. A good pair of pillow cases or a set of bedlinen, both on a white cotton base, should cost around $6.00 US and $25.00 US respectively.
Genuine Vietnamese silk is mainly muted in colour – bright colours are often indicative of Chinese imports or synthetic fibres. Quality varies widely. Prices for reasonable quality silk begin at about $3.00 per metre for 90cm wide material.