Vietnam Part 4: Shopping!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

UPDATED! Added Sapa Bag photos.

I think Danix and I are a great combination for shopping. She is arguably the most patient person I know while I am a serious shopper. We get the job done. On our last day, she had a friend who asked her to get an additional bag when we already bought the bag earlier. Our last day was saved for visiting the French Quarters so we still had to mind our time.
To illustrate we were already in point C and the bag can be bought in point A and B then we were going to point D. In our own Amazing Race like manner, we Amazing Shopped - does that make sense? Haha

Ben Thanh MarketWe bought 80% of our pasalubongs from here. I was expecting it to be as chaotic as Divisoria or as overwhelming as Thailand’s Chatuchak Market but thankfully, it was neither. Ben Thanh Market is organized with sections for specific goods; it also has an air conditioned area. The market also has a section where all the prices are fixed and in their defense, there IS a sign saying prices are fixed. Haha

All sorts of food
We wanted to bring home something uniquely Vietnamese for our family so we got the hot sauce and the salt + pepper combination we saw in restaurants. Since it is a market, you have the freedom to choose the amount to buy. I also bought some Vietnamese candy for my cousin and officemates.

Hot Sauce
(5,000 VND approximately P12.50)
Cute bottle of salt + pepper. Just add lemon and try with tapa, yum!
(20,000 VND approximately P50)

Gorgeous pouches

The pouch in the photo is one of the designs I got. They’re the same size as my Gala money pouch that I use for work. You can use them to organize your wallet, make-up kit or even to keep your accessories on the go. (I got a good price since I bought them wholesale 62,500 VND approximately P156 each at Tre Xanh – Section 850, West Gate)

Porcelain chopsticks to use for eating or a hair accessory.

(3 for 80,000 VND approximately P200 at Cua Hang Thien Mang, Section 928)


I have a house from Batanas and now I can park my beautiful red bike next to it! Yes, they’re not proportional. Haha (40,000 VND approximately P100 at Cua Hang Thien Mang, Section 928)


It may seem weird but make-up artists and some people in my industry has raved about these falsies that they’ve hoarded them! (30,000 VND approximately P87.50 at Cua Hang Mua Ban My Pham – Section 721)

Souvenir Shirts

They are not of the best quality and are common. One good thing about my Dad is he likes souvenir shirts so it’s easy to get him a pasalubong. (35,000 VND approximately P87.50 if you buy more than 3, there were stalls selling the SAME shirts for 100,000 VND approximately P250 each!)


I got this for my brother-in-law and my dad loved it so much he wanted one for himself too. It was a good thing my friend Berna was still in HCMC and bought the same cap so she was able to score me one more. Even though the vendor was hella masungit, she had the best price so I still bought from her. (30,000 VND approximately P75)

We loved our coffee experience in Vietnam but since Danix and I didn’t have a coffee maker, we opted not to buy the fresh coffee beans at the market. We hit Trung Nguyen Coffee for 3-in-1 coffee.

Caphe (33,000 VND approximately P82.50)

Sapa Bag
I bought this bag at the Sapa shop in Lucky Plaza. Before going here, we were at Ben Thanh Market and I saw A LOT of bags that looked like this. I only realized after being in Sapa that those were fakes! Sapa bags are an art form and come from the town of Sapa in Northern Vietnam. You can really see and feel the difference in the craftsmanship of the real and fake ones. For some odd reason I didn’t care for the fake ones in Ben Thanh. They also sell stuffed animals, different types of bags, pouches and clothes.
Hobo Sapa Bag
It will seem expensive compared to the other things I bought but the quality of this hand made bag is beautiful. (296,000 VND approximately P740)

Gingko Biloba Shirts
Ok, try to stop laughing. Stop laughing now. I was laughing my ass off when I first saw the name. On a scale of 1-10, normal cliché (read: baduy) souvenir shirts would be 1 or 2 and Island Souvenirs or Team Manila shirts are a 9. Gingko Biloba would be a good 7.
The shirt is 3 times thicker than the ones we bought at Ben Thanh.
(210,000 VND approximately P525)

Onitsuka Sneakers
I’m not that familiar with this brand but Danix’s friends were. They asked her to buy a pair and she ended up getting 3: 2 for those who asked and 1 for her brother. Some stalls would tell you they sell real sneakers but they still looked like knock offs so you’ve got to know your goods. 1 store said their merchandise was real but they look like the fake ones sold in Greenhills. Some vendors are honest and tell you they’re fakes too so be on your guard. Too bad they didn’t have Onitsuka for women in this shop because Danix and I wanted a pair! There were women’s version in the other stall that was either (1) fake, (2) too expensive or (3) the vendor was lying.

After much searching, we bought a pair of Onitsuka shoes for 600,000 VND (approximately P1500). They’re 60% cheaper in HCMC since a pair is sold in Greenbelt for P3,000-P4,000. Also, the seller was honest. Their shop sold different brands and he would tell us which ones were copies and real. (On the right side of Ben Thanh, turn right on the first street. The stall is near this adorable donut shop.)

The Real and Fake (or in their words, Copy) Bags!
Vietnam is not known for fashionable pieces like Thailand, they are known for cheap bags because the factories are in the country. Roxy, Delsey, North Face, and ssssooo much more can be found here.

My friend Weng got me all excited about the Roxy and North Face bags cos when they went, her guy friends out shopped the girls! Haha They sell a LOT of fake (or in their words, copy) North Face and Roxy bags in Ben Thanh, Le Loi Street, Saigon Square and other parts of the city which go for 150,000 – 350,000 VND depending on the design. It is best to study the real bag that you want before heading here so that you’ll know the difference. Some vendors say they’re original but one touch and you know it’s not true.

I prepared myself that I was set to buy a Roxy bag whether it were a trolley, overnight bag or backpack. The most styles and prints we saw were at Tran Chau (26 Le Loi Street, Ho Chi Minh). I was like a kid in a candy store when I saw all the prints. They had a lot of prints for the backpacks and overnight bags but only had 5 trolleys. The owner was friendly when we first passed by the store. However when we returned and were ready to buy, the sales lady in charge was masungit! It was a good thing the owner arrived while we were there and shopping there got better. We were here for at least 30 minutes since we bought for ourselves and for pasalubongs. Oh, the owner also was honest with us and said their bags were copies only. They also replenish their stocks every 2 weeks.

Normal backpacks and laptop backpacks.
(ranges from 100,000-200,000 VND approximately P250-500)
Hi pretty trolleys
I don’t have this size yet so it justifies the purchase. (300,000 VND approximately P750)

When I bought my Jj in April, I knew I Vietnam was the only place I should buy a bag for it. I visited the North Face store here in Manila and decided on the Borealis. One feel of the fake version and I knew the truth. The padding alone gives it away. I was getting desperate because it was our 2nd to the last day and I still haven’t seen an original one. This only meant one thing - I needed the help of fellow shopaholic Mj. Like an angel sent from shopping heaven, she replies and tells me exactly where to find the stall with original North Face bags as well as what to look out for to know its original.

Lokong seller ito! I passed by his stall numerous times during our trips to Saigon Square and point blank I asked if they had original bags and he said they didn’t have any. Lo and behold, this was the ONLY stall that had original North Face bags. Dude, did you read my intro? Coupled with my serious shopping skills and Danix’s patience, we really scoured!

Dya know what makes this buy sweeter? They only had 5 designs that were original and the Borealis was one of them! Aaaaahhhh!!! Meant to be!
According to Mj, an original North Face Bag should have an emergency whistle at the strap, the snap clicks in place with a solid locking sound and has reflectors.
1st floor of Saigon Square near the stairs. (490,000 VND approximately P1,225)

I am extremely happy with the bags I got, so happy that it made me wanna go back to Vietnam again. Haha

Additional Photos from:

The rest of my Vietnam posts are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 5. Looking for a place to stay in HCMC? Check out this link.

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  1. hi! helpful post! do you still remember where the north face stall is located? thanks!

    1. Hi Nikka, thanks for passing by. Check out the last photo of this post, that's the best location I could give from memory. =)

  2. hi! do you remember which stall sells original onitsukas? thanks

    1. Hi, I dont have the exact stall name or number but as mentioned above this is what I remember:
      (On the right side of Ben Thanh, turn right on the first street. The stall is near this adorable donut shop.)


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