art and craft of shopping in vietnam

hue vietnam national constumesSome people are inspired to visit Vietnam for its World Heritage-listed sites, intriguing local culture or even its delicious cuisine, but it was the promise of some serious retail therapy that tempted Intrepid’s Lisa Rollinson…

“Vietnam has such an amazing variety of things to do and see but what convinced me to visit was the shopping. I was told it was great…but ‘great’ is a huge under statement. From ceramics near Halong Bay, to tailored clothes in Hoi An and incredible lacquer work throughout the north, I was in my element.

A friend who had already visited told me to leave space in my back pack for my new tailored wardrobe, but she didn’t warn me about the paintings in Hoi An or the silk lamps in Hanoi. Yes silk lamps! I was given a catalogue to flick through with dozens of material samples – so many colours and patterns. Once I had chosen the sample I liked and the shape and design of my new lamps, I just had to come back in a day or two to pick them up. Every time I look at them sitting next to my bed, I wish I had bought more. They are the most beautiful lamps and since I chose the style, they suit perfectly. They sit next to the marble music men I bough near Hue and the puppets – just like the ones from the water puppet show in Hanoi.

I was amazed at the quality of the products I was buying, not just the prices. It was also great to be able to see how some of these products were made. You can really appreciate the amount of work and time that goes into a little Vietnamese ceramic tea pot, when you see it being made. From the shaping, to the firing to the painting that finishes it off. It makes you want to buy one of everything! So that’s pretty much what I did!

And next time, I think I will just take a whole empty suit case to fill!”

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* photo by Sarah Moore.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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