This is actually my second time to visit Ho Chi Minh city. The first one was from a cruise trip and we had HCM as a stopover. We also went to Ben Thanh that time and nothing much has changed. The dry goods were just so-so. We were highly doubtful of the quality and we find it hard to believe that those products are overruns. Yes, a lot of products are "made in Vietnam" but that doesn't make them real/ authentic. It might look the same but the quality will be different.
|We bought the hand embroidered painting on the left in a tourist stop called ABC Stopover for 310,000 VND (620 pesos)|
At night, Ben Thanh market closes but the streets outside it convert to a night market. At night, they mostly sell shirts, shoes and food. More photos from Ben Thanh Market:
|Disclaimer: Pho from hotel breakfast. Not Ben Thanh.|
Tip: Other than Ben Thanh, typical package tours will bring you to various "tourist spots" where they sell merchandise with high profits (Like the ABC Stopover below). We highly suggest you to visit Ben Thanh instead because prices here are much cheaper and yes, you can still haggle their price unless stated that it's fixed.
Recommended: For those who get dizzy because of too much people, I suggest Saigon Square (B). It's a good walk from Ben Thanh Market (A). It's not as crowded and merchandise for sale are more organized - this is actually what most people say as we didn't get the chance to go here due to lack of time.
We stopped at this tourist center for tourists and they sell a wide range of stuff from Jades, to hand embroidered paintings (as seen in the photo above, beside the plate) to local delicacies and bags (Kipling). For those who love jewelry shopping, they say that Jade here is good. Of course, you will need to do your due diligence and check it for yourselves. We were able to buy an authentic Kipling bag here for $75 USD. That same bag is being sold in Manila for more than 5,000 pesos. (There's free WiFi here!)
Before going to Vietnam, I've read in various trip sites like Tripadvisor, Virtual tourist etc that you can get good deals on several branded items that are Vietnam made like North Face, Samsonite, Kipling etc. Well, it's not that easy to find those good deals because when we went to a shop Hanoi, there were a lot of stalls selling "The North Face" bags and as per inspection, I highly doubt they are authentic. This shop was a recommended shop by both the tourist guide and some review sites.
We did get a slightly good deal at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCM city. We got a Le Sport Sac bag at USD 120. Here in Manila, it is being sold for 7,450 pesos. Not too sure though if all branded goods are cheaper there but it is suggested to check prices here so you have a base amount for comparison and better study the quality and design to make sure that it is authentic.
Oh, and Don't fret if you run out of VND on hand as most of the sellers accept US Dollar!
More about Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay soon!
Related articles about Vietnam:
Vietnam Shopping Guide
Bhaya Cruise Day 1 - Activities, Food and the Cruise
Bhaya Cruise Day 2 - Surprise Cave
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