to take home....?
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.
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
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!)
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.
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 pâpier maché 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.
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 bed linen,
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.
You'll find a huge range of paintings in oils, water colours,
lacquerware and just about any other conceivable media. Styles
are equally eclectic, not only ‘western’ derivatives, but
also an emerging Vietnamese genre. You'll also come across
studies where several artists make copies of famous paintings
ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Salvador Dali and everything
between. Prices are what you're prepared to pay – negotiating
a price is de rigour.
There are plenty of jewellery shops in the large cities offering
a bewildering array of gemstones, both genuine and fake. Pearls,
both fresh and saltwater, are common – the latter are mostly
farmed. Amethyst, aquamarine, corundum, jade, peridot, ruby,
spinel, sapphires, and topaz are also on sale.
you're an expert, detecting the genuine article is very difficult
– a fancy western-style showroom doesn't mean you're less
likely to be sold a pup. If it’s a good price, and you like
it, go for it – it’s doubtful anyone else will know the difference,
if you want to know more, try this web site (http://www.business-in-asia.com/jewelry.html)
The same caveats as those for gemstones apply to antiques
– it’s almost impossible for a layperson to distinguish the
real McCoy. However, realising that Vietnam’s historical treasures
were haemorrhaging out of the country at an alarming rate,
the government has slapped a blanket ban on exporting anything
more than a hundred years old. Customs officers are present
at airports, but they are not experts. Consequently, anything
that looks old, be it fake or genuine, is highly likely to
probably wise to avoid ‘antiques’. However, there are several
workshops making high-quality traditional furniture. It’s
not cheap, but it’s a fraction of what you'd pay if it were
on sale in your own country. The wood used is very heavy,
but shipping charges are based upon volume, so exporting is
reasonably straightforward. We can assist if you're interested.