Souvenir Shopping in Hanoi : What to Buy if You’re on a Budget
Souvenir shopping is one part of traveling which would often stressed me out. To ease the stress and mild headache that comes with it, I usually make a list of all the people I need to buy souvenirs for. From there, I allot a portion of our budget so that during the actual shopping, I won’t have to go overboard and spend beyond our budget. Finding the perfect souvenir item for your coworkers, friends and loved ones while considering your budget is not an easy task. Good thing Hanoi is another shopping paradise with many choices of cheap travel souvenirs to choose from.
The maze of streets in Old Quarter is the perfect place to shop for souvenir and gift items. Lakeside Palace Hotel, our home for 3 days is located in the heart of Hanoi. The hotel is just walking distance to the bustling and busy streets of stalls and souvenir shops ready to empty our wallet.
Here’s a picture of my mom showing how much
she we enjoyed the shopping experience in Hanoi, Vietnam. We also tried our haggling skills because I have read that sellers tend to reduce their prices especially if you will buy in bulk.
When souvenir shopping, your time should not be limited. As in our case, we allotted 2-3 hours for souvenir shopping alone because we can’t make up our minds just by visiting one stall. We need to see more souvenir shops before deciding what to buy. On our third day, we even went back to Old Quarter to buy more souvenirs before our return flight to Manila.
Here are the top items and cheap souvenirs we bought in Hanoi. We didn’t splurge on souvenir items so these are all cheap and within our budget.
1. Doll Magnets in Vietnamese costume, Vietnamese woman bookmark, and mini Vietnamese doll display
We gave these bunch of cute and colorful souvenirs to friends, coworkers and daughter’s best friends. I kept some for my personal collection because these are undeniably the cutest travel souvenirs.
Fridge Magnet – VND 20,000 each ($0.9)
Smaller Fridge Magnet (male figurine and the three yellow at the bottom) – VND 10,000 each ($0.5)
Bookmark – VND 20,000 each ($0.9)
Mini Doll Figurine/Display (the three dolls above the magnets) – VND 20,000 each ($0.9)
2. Wallet and wristlet with embroidered design and chopsticks
We bought these gifts items for teachers, my daughter’s Pediatrician, nieces, and siblings.
Artsy wallet – VND 100,000 ($4.5)
Wristlet (big) in different colors- VND 30,000 ($1.5)
Wristlet (small) – VND 10,000 ($0.5) ; chopsticks – VND 20,000 ($0.9) per pair
3. Keychains and rectangular fridge magnets
The perfect travel souvenirs, we gave these key chains to coworkers and friends. Keychains are sold per set (6 pcs/set) for VND 150,000 ($6.8)
Aside from the Vietnamese figurine fridge magnets, we also bought some rectangular and wooden fridge magnets. The rectangular magnets which feature scenic places are more expensive at VND 100,000 ($4.5) for 3 pcs. Wooden magnet is VND 20,000 ($0.9) each.
4. Vietnamese Coffee
Just like the famous Old Town Coffee in Kuala Lumpur, Vietnamese Coffee is also a must buy. These are perfect gift items for your coffee addict friends (a.k.a Tita’s of Manila) and bosses.
There are many stalls in Old Quarter which sell different kinds of coffee. They have the famous and equally expensive WEASEL COFFEE which came form weasel poop.
Of course, we did not buy the expensive ones. Instead, we bought packs of the famous Trung Nguyen coffee (lower shelf below the Kopi Luwak container). Trung Nguyen is a local brand and is considered as the “Starbucks of Vietnam”. They have coffee shops all over Hanoi and they offer a wide variety of coffees and teas. I gave a pack of this Vietnamese coffee to my boss and he commented that this coffee is too strong but he actually liked it. My mom, also a coffee lover, bought
hoarded Trung Nguyen ( 3 in one variant) coffee boxes.
Lotus Tea is also considered as one of the best souvenir items to buy in Hanoi. The Lotus Tea is a type of green tea which makes use of the scent of Lotus flowers as its added “flavor”. The process of making this type of tea is quite difficult and time-consuming that is why the Lotus Tea is being sold at a higher price. We did not buy this one because it is beyond our budget.
5. Collectible Vietnamese Dolls
I actually bought these dolls for my personal collection. Aside from key chains and fridge magnets, I also collect dolls from my travels. These are priced at VND 40,000 ($1.8) each.
Where to buy these travel souvenirs?
As mentioned, you can buy souvenirs and gift items in the streets of Old Quarter and stalls near Hoan Kiem Lake. There are also some souvenir shops in tourist attractions like in One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh Complex.
Aside from the list above, you may also consider buying the following as travel souvenirs:
- Conical Hats or Non La
- Silk – you can buy silk products at Hang Gai Street also known as Silk Street
- Ao Dai, the traditional costume of Vietnam
- Salted or Sugared Dried fruits in Hang Duong or Hang Da Street
- Imitation backpacks and bags
- ceramics from pottery villages
Hanoi is a shopping paradise to tourists. Most souvenirs and gift items are unique and show how artistic and creative the Vietnamese are. Though some of the shops and stalls may be considered as tourist traps, the important thing is having fun while souvenir shopping and to avoid getting ripped off. Just don’t forget to haggle and take your time choosing that unique souvenir to take back home.