An increasing number of tourists are picking a vacation in Vietnam. Over 10 million overseas visitors travelled to the country last year and there is every indication that numbers will continue to rise. Travelling in Vietnam is a great experience; there is so much to see and do as well as plenty of people to meet. There are ethnic hill tribes, farming villages close to the big cities, and when it comes to buying souvenirs of a holiday then there are not only interesting markets, day and night, as well as 21st Century shopping centres.
The Vietnamese Government fully understands the importance of tourism to the national economy and hence has ensured that a Vietnam Visa, if required, is easy to obtain. Hanoi is the Capital of the Country that was unified at the end of Vietnam War in the mid-1970s and it is included in almost all Vietnam tour packages. When it comes to shopping in Hanoi, there is plenty of choice, starting with the markets:
• Hanoi Weekend Night Market opens at 1900, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There is a host of stalls selling to locals and tourists. You can eat as you browse, buying from the many food stalls. It is located in the Old Quarter in pedestrian streets amongst historical sites. There are fashions and casual clothes, shoes and sunglasses and handicrafts with bargaining a way of life. There is even entertainment; traditional music and costumes.
• Dong Xuan is Hanoi’s largest indoor market, sited in a Soviet-style 4 storey building. The ground floor is fascinating; locals haggling over seafood, meat and vegetables. The floors above sell a whole range of goods that obviously attract the many tourists seen there throughout the year.
Hanoi has much that is still traditional but increasingly there are modern malls as well as streets dedicated to specific products to satisfy demand:
• Hang Gai Street is ‘’Silk Street’’ where high quality fashions, often in silk, are the top attraction. There are ‘’ready to wear’’ and ‘’made to measure’’ alternatives.
• Hang Bac Street is ‘’Silver Street’’ where everyone goes for jewellery.
• Trang Tien Plaza attracts the wealthy looking for luxury designer goods. It is a five storey shopping mall with the world’s top label.
• Nha Tho Street near St. Joseph’s Cathedral is just 100 metres long, all small stores and restaurants. Fashions are also the top attraction.
• Hang Da Shopping Mall in Hanoi Square is modern, air-conditioned and you are perfectly allowed to haggle over prices.
• Thanh Binh Gallery in the French Quarter is the place for art. There are quality hotels and restaurants all around as well as the Stock Exchange. Nothing is cheap but if you want something special look at the lacquerware.
• Hang Dau Street near Hoan Kiem Lake is the place for one thing; shoes. There are very cheap shoes with slight imperfections, and there is a great choice for women.
Hanoi is one of the two main international airports. If you are finishing your tour in Vietnam in Hanoi, then finish your holiday by shopping in Hanoi.