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Ho Chi Minh City – still Saigon to locals. Manhattan on mopeds. A city finding its feet in the international world and loving it. Communism meeting capitalism. SE Asia with extra Chinese and a dash of French.
Why come? It’s not for the architecture, beautiful parks, museums. Head to Hanoi for that. It has beautiful people, energy, great value hotels, fabulous food, vibrant nightlife, but so do many other cities.
The # 1 reason you’d come here and not somewhere else? Some of the most exciting shopping you'll find on the planet.
As the world starts to look more and more alike with the unstoppable march of international chains, Saigon is yet to be conquered. Don’t come if your preference when you fly thousands of miles is to head into familiar luxury brand stores followed by coffee at Starbucks. Go to Shanghi. If you love bringing home stuff that is unique and a bargain – this is your town.
MySherpa Saigon pocket guide cross references and clearly marks stores on the Saigon Map – so you can actually find them.
Streets: First head to the bottom of Dong Khoi (‘Khai’) and walk up exploring adjacent streets – particularly Dong Du (‘yu’). For a more authentic slice of Saigon, cross Nguyen Hue (‘wing way’) and explore Ton That Thiep, Ton That Dam and Ho Tung Mau. Antique hunters can lose a day on Le Cong Kieu. Ready for more? Le Thanh Ton from Dong Khoi, then south down Pasteur will yield more treasure, as will Ben Thanh Market on Le Loi and surrounding streets.
Lacquer ware: The stand out thing to bring home from Saigon. Head to Saigon Craft for stunning original works, then Gift 42 for the best of the rest.
Home Decor: Does your place need a makeover? If you’re thinking of investing $2,000 or more on home furnishing, a crate shipped from Saigon could pay for your trip. Begin by looking for major items in Gaya if you like modern, and Verlim, if your style is more formal/traditional. Organise shipping through either of these fine merchants. Then you can go wild and buy up…Framed Art (see below), Gom Viet pottery, NGA/Mosaic lights and antiques found on Le Cong Kieu. Provide extra padding for your crate with Catherine Denoual bed ware, and/or Dolce Casa cushions/quilts. Ask these and other retailers to deliver your purchases back to Gaya or Verlim. They take care of the rest.
Clothes: Vietnamese silk is fabulous and Hoang Khai showed the world. His flagship Khai Silk store at 107 Dong Khoi is a must visit. Next door, Creation and Indochina provide sterling competition. Don't miss Mai's 132-134 Dong Khoi attached to the famous Hotel Continental a gallery style space featuring a modern take on traditonal clothing, utilising hand embroidery techiques unique to her ... you will not be dispointed in this truely international brand. Ladies, you are spoilt for choice after this. Follow your nose, but make sure you don’t miss La Bella, La Bella Blue, Song, and acclaimed designer Minh Hanh. Look out for exquisite hand embroidered items along the way.
Accessories: Head to Ipa Nima for a stunning and more affordable collection. Press on to Mandarina for bargain shoes and Le Hang for bead/bespoke jewellery nirvana..
Luxury and Bespoke Items: Villa Anupa Boutique. Anupa brand is the main brand you will find, you have everything from yoga mat bags, to laptop covers, ipad covers, evening clutches and weekender bags. Men look out for the lovely destressed leather travel bags. Ladies look out for the Anupa bling cocktail rings, can be worn everyday, very addictive and very classy. You can also find scarves with charms, bamboo sunglasses and opticals, ladies apparel and eco-luxury products.
Kids’ presents: Musical stuff from Chuck and Anna will hit the spot.
DVD: For movie buffs with no scruples - Ho Tung Mau.
Romance: Candles, oils and soaps from Harnn.
Tacky tourist stuff is everywhere but Ben Thanh Market has the most. Adjacent streets are great for fashion hunters/foodies.
Romance: Candles, oils and soaps from Harnn.
Bookstores: Fahasa books.
Art: Vietnamese artists are increasing their international reputation. Sell some stock and invest in something yielding a daily return from your walls. Consider your investment in Apricot, Mai’s, Hanoi Studio, or Tu Do. Eat and contemplate in Gallery Deli. Listen and contemplate in Sax ‘n Art. Original art out of your range? Bring home a tube of 1m sq $60 knockoffs. Bargain frames – Ben Thanh Art and Frame.
Gentleman/Tailors: Chaps – don’t despair. Khai Silk and Creation have very desirable shirts at around $30, and ties to compete with your Zegnas for $10. Off the peg shirts can be tailored for you at no charge. Otherwise, take your favourite shirts/shorts/pants to the lovely Tricia and Verona, who’ll make you up a perfect copy in silk, linen or finest Egyptian cotton. Allow two days. $25 - $50. Here for five days? You have time for a suit. For quality work from old boys who know their cloth - Cao Minh. Want to go where old money/ex pats go? Minh Doan is your pick.
Within the last few months Esprit and Faconnable opened flagship stores on Dong Khoi. Building facades are apprearing monthly boasting a new foreign interloper, planning to import their wares and sell them at first world prices – mainly to international tourists.
Get here soon. Ho Chi Minh City is already becoming like Bangkok while Hanoi still has many boutique shops. The change is not in 5 years, it is happening now.Buy a copy of the MySherpa Saigon guide ( USD $8.95 inc postage worldwide) and receive immediate access to download the guide and map in PDF form.