Top best shopping in Ho Chi Minh is truly one of the highlights of this fascinating city. New shopping malls are springing up all over downtown Saigon, bringing with them international fashion brands to please the most demanding of fashion connoisseurs, but it is the variety of shopping experiences and one-off items that most excite us about shopping in Ho Chi Minh.
Boutique fashion is more prominent here than almost anywhere else in Southeast Asia, where bespoke items can be bought at a fraction of what they cost elsewhere. Markets in Ho Chi Minh are also highly recommended as they still play a central role in the daily lives of locals and visitors – truly a shopping experience you won’t forget quickly.
Situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, bustling Ben Thanh Market in District 1 is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs. Here, you’ll find eating stalls inside the market where you can get a taste of hawker-style Vietnamese cuisine or simply cool off with a cold drink when the bargaining becomes too much.
The market is big, difficult to navigate at times and certainly best avoided during the hottest part of the day but all the same its well worth a look. When night falls, restaurants around the perimeter of the market open their doors creating a vibrant street side scene filling the air with the scents of wok-fried noodles, barbecued fish and meats. One of Saigon’s oldest landmarks, Ben Thanh offers a great atmosphere that is absolutely authentically Vietnamese.
Ben Thanh Market Highlights
Save your appetite and head to Ben Thanh Market in the evening where you can be served some real street style local food at one of the 20 or so eateries that surround the market building. Chefs will cook in front of you with an endless array of cuisine choices including vegetarian noodles, fresh seafood, crispy rice pancakes and steamed cakes. You will be in great local company as most of the places thrive with locals enjoying a bite to eat and a quick drink on their way home from work.
For shopping heaven head to the market preferably early morning to pick up some bargains including lacquer ware, bamboo goods, arts and crafts. Also on sale are clothes, textiles, luggage, watches and an assortment of electronic goods. Spices, nuts and local fruits heavily scent the air which is also filled with the chatter of tourists and locals haggling for bargains. Do note however that some items will be strictly fixed price.
The luxurious Vincom Center is Ho Chi Minh City’s largest shopping mall with over 250 shops spread out over two separate buildings. Vincom Center A is a charming, low rise colonial building housing many flagship stores for international fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Hermes. Vincom Center B occupies the first four floors of a modern glass skyscraper just across the street from the original premises. Here you will find more high street brands, sporting apparel and homeware.
Binh Tay Market (Cholon Chinatown Market)
Cholon is the name given to Vietnam’s largest Chinatown, located in District 5 in the south west of downtown Ho Chi Minh. Along with the interesting historical and cultural aspect of Cholon, the central market called Bin Tay is a fascinating assortment of handicrafts, lacquerware, textiles and fresh goods including many weird and wonderful exotic fruit. Overall, Bin Tay Market is chaotic, hot and a lot of fun.
Anyone with an interest in fashion simply must spend some time hitting the boutique fashion stores in Ho Chi Minh, with something for almost any taste and budget. Dong Khoi Street in downtown District 1 is a great place to start, but really there are plenty of other fashion boutiques spread out across Saigon. Here is a list of 10 boutiques not to miss in Ho Chi Minh.
A wholesale market with some of the best prices in Ho Chi Minh, anyone looking for great bargains should make Saigon Square their first stop. Small stalls are densely packed into this warehouse like space, with products stacked high and sold cheap. T-shirts, shoes, swimwear, luggage, jewellery and textiles are all found in abundance here.
Diamond Plaza is a department store in District 1 that is surrounded by many of Ho Chi Minh’s most popular attractions such as Notre Dame Cathedral and April 30th Park. Housed in a converted period building, there are several floors of shopping separated into men’s and women’s fashion, homeware, and sports goods. Once you’ve finished shopping, there are multiple dining and entertainment venues to enjoy. In particular, family friendly activities located in Diamond Plaza include bowling and a cinema.
Parkson Plaza Department Store
Parkson Plaza is an international standard department store that is laid out in the tried and tested formula of cosmetics and perfumes on the ground floor, fashion for men and women on the second and third floors, with homeware and restaurants on the fourth. This is a compact shopping experience with mid- to high-range products such as Coach, Calvin Klein and Lacoste.
Art Galleries on Dong Khoi Street
Art galleries in Ho Chi Minh range from rough, paint-by-numbers reproductions of famous paintings, up to some of the world’s leading modern art. Obviously the prices are drastically different too. If you are looking for a nice range of art galleries in Saigon, you should walk down Dong Khoi and take your time to look for galleries that have higher quality paintings. Le Xuan Art Gallery and Ben Thanh Art have some cheaper examples of Ho Chi Minh art, while Cua Hang Saigon Crafts and especially Apricot Gallery are higher end galleries with better quality work and prices to match.