Top 6 Souvenirs To Buy In Vietnam

Any cursory look through the main attractions of Vietnam will quickly reveal that this is a country of great diversity. From the beaches and sun of the south to the temperate, hilly central highlands, and finally the mountain flecked crags of the north, one will find a diversity of culture to accompany this diversity of landscape.  The most notable souvenirs one can take from a trip through Vietnam reflect this diversity, but also contain a common current of those things that seem to run through Vietnamese culture wherever you are- an appreciation for delicate beauty, a melding of Chinese, native, and French heritage, a profound respect for tradition alongside an embracing of progress and modernity, and a (relatively newfound) love of good coffee.

 

1. Hoi An Paper Lantern

Photo by Rachele Caretti on Foter.com

Photo by Rachele Caretti on Foter.com

 

Hoi An is often cited as travelers’ favorite stop during their Vietnam experience. It’s easy to see why- traditional architecture, vibrant and unique culture, loads of history, and through it all, an irresistible charm. All of these elements can be felt in the seemingly omnipresent, unofficial symbol of Hoi An: the traditional paper lantern.

 

The paper lantern began to be associated with the city way back when it was a bustling trading port in the 16th and 17th centuries. Japanese merchants who came to live in the city would hang lanterns of various shapes in front of their doorways in order to invite good luck, and soon the locals began to imitate these customs. The lantern culture grew in extravagance, in turn giving the city a reputation for it, which then caused the city to expand and maintain its “lanternness.” Thus, these days, one can wander out to Hoi An’s old quarter on any given night and find the streets bathed in the glow of a limitless array of multicolored paper lamps. These are often embroidered or painted with a wide variety of designs, varying from the natural to the mystical. Not the type of people to pass up any kind of business opportunity, Vietnamese merchants sell these lanterns at a multitude of shops and stalls throughout Hoi An’s Old Quarter night markets- a large one will usually run you around 80,000 dongs, or about $3.75.

 

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2. Sapa Minority Handicrafts

Photo by beggs on Foter.com

Photo by beggs on Foter.com

 

The most often visited mountainous region in Vietnam’s rugged north is Sapa, with its tallest peak, Fansipan, being the highest point in Indochina, and classed as a foothill of the Himalayas. In the surrounding crags and valleys of this region live a collection of unique ethnic minority groups of Vietnam.

 

These groups leave an unforgettable impression on visitors with their unique hill-tribe culture, which is expressed in their colorful, often elaborately patterned clothing, decorations, and other handicrafts. In order to take a part of this unique aspect of Vietnam home with you, and support the local minority communities, the traveler can trek trails from Sapa town out to these minority villages(after buying the necessary day pass) and buy from the local shops that cater to the tourists.

 

3. Da Lat Coffee

Photo by 5518 Designs on Foter.com

Photo by 5518 Designs on Foter.com

 

Known as the city of eternal spring, Dalat attracts visitors mainly due to its temperate year-round climate, accompanying lovely atmosphere, and lingering elements of French culture. Recently, however, the city and surrounding area have become widely known for their high-quality coffee as well. A package of Da Lat coffee will surely bring back charming memories of the windswept plains and hills of Dalat, fresh with the touch of the spring-like air, with every cup you brew.

 

To obtain the good stuff, rent a motorbike and head out of town to one of the surrounding coffee plantations. You can enjoy cups of fresh coffee on terraces overseeing the fields, or even lounge on a hammock and drink. At these establishments, you can buy bags of freshly picked beans to take home with you.

 

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4. Single Cup Drip Coffee Filter

Photo by Marko Mikkonen on Foter.com

Photo by Marko Mikkonen on Foter.com

 

While we’re on the subject of coffee, why not look into a convenient and unique way to brew it? The Vietnamese gravity-powered steel filter coffee drip (or whatever you’d like to call it) is unique to appreciate in itself, ideally while taking a breather in a quiet café from the tumultuous narrow roads of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This device is used throughout Vietnam for coffee brewing.

 

Less immediately apparent, however, is its usefulness for coffee loving travelers looking for a quick, portable way to make a quality brew. This is what makes the Vietnamese coffee-drip not only a great souvenir but a highly practical one for those who are continuing their travels within or beyond Vietnam. The brewing process is simple, and it makes a great alternative to resorting to instant coffee when you’re out on the road. You can read all about the device and brewing process on the website of popular Vietnamese coffee brand, “Trung Nguyen coffee”.

 

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5. Bat Trang Ceramics

Photo by Maman Voyage on Foter.com

Photo by Maman Voyage on Foter.com

 

About an hour out from Hanoi you can find Bat Trang, a 700-year-old village renowned for its proficiency in the art of ceramics. Much to the delight of tourists and locals alike, this art has continued to be practiced in Bat Trang right up to the modern day. Not only can you shop here among the intricate, often-hand painted pottery made by the devoted practitioners, but you can also try your hand at making pottery yourself.

 

Taking home a piece of this artwork is a great way to remember both your own experience and appreciate this beautiful, expressive aspect of Vietnamese culture. The designs painted on the glaze have been said to give one an insight into the world as it is viewed through the eyes of Vietnamese people. The villagers sell everything ceramic, from traditional dinner sets to vases to teapots and cups.

 

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6. Market Trinkets

Photo by colros on Foter.com

Photo by colros on Foter.com

 

Like much of Asia, Vietnam is a great place to find cheap, strange, beautiful or unique trinkets in any of its countless markets (some notable ones being the night markets of Ha Noi and Hoi An and Dong Xuan market in Ha Noi). Wander through any of these markets, have some cash, and be ready to bargain (always with a smile and good humor).

 

Many items you’ve never conceived of (an echo-soaked, ear-splittingly loud portable karaoke mic), or maybe you secretly always wanted (an abnormally long, dragon-engraved, wizard-worthy tobacco pipe) will appear (and often be thrust eagerly) before your eyes. Taking home a couple of these lovable oddities will always leave you able to look back on your trip with a smile.

 

Click here to buy

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