Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City – What to buy and where to buy it!

Ho Chi Minh City is truly a mecca for shopping enthusiasts!  Everything from handicrafts to imitation brand name clothes and shoes is available at a fraction of what it would cost overseas!  As tourism has increased over time in Ho Chi Minh City , so has the establishment of trendy boutiques that cater to a tourist crowd looking beyond the typical souvenirs.  However, you can find the same treasures in the many shopping areas throughout the city.  Our aim of this article is to guide you on your trip to shopping in Ho Chi Minh City and help you find what you’re looking for at bargain prices!

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City   :

(click on the list below to jump directly to the category)

  1. Clothes
  2. Shoes
  3. Handbags and Luggage
  4. Watches
  5. Handicrafts
  6. Antiques
  7. Paintings
  8. Fabric

Ho Chi Minh City shopping requires that you always bring Vietnamese Dong to pay for your purchases. Although there are more and more shops in Ho Chi Minh city that allow customers to pay by credit card, or even exchange currencies on the spot, you should always ask before making a purchase. If you’re taking Vietnam tours up north, and you need shopping advice and tips, please check out XO Tours’ Hanoi Shopping Guide

 


 

1. CLOTHES

Vietnam is a manufacturing country so imitations of brand name clothes are generally cheaper than the suggested retail price!  You can find both high-end brand clothing and mall brands like American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Old Navy and more while shopping in Ho Chi Minh City.  Many locals shop for clothing in the stores along Nguyen Trai street or at Saigon Square.  Keep in mind that there are 3 locations for Saigon Square (Saigon Square 2 is currently closed) and, oddly, they have the same name!  Many people refer to the new location as Saigon Square 3.  All 3 locations carry similar items but Saigon Square 3 is cooler and more spacious than the original location. In international terms, Saigon Square is the equivalent of an Outlet Mall shopping experience; but you can bargain! This is a very popular option for tourists and expats alike.

Location of Nguyen Trai Street shopping
Location of Saigon Square 1
Location of Saigon Square 3

Saigon Square Shopping Center

Saigon Square Shopping Center

 


 

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2. SHOES

Ho Chi Minh City seems to have a specific street for everything, and shoes are no exception.  In fact, the city has two streets dedicated entirely to shoes!  As is the case with clothes, you will find great imitations of brand name shoes while shopping in Ho Chi Minh City. Be careful with the quality of these imitations as the heel or main body of the shoe may show wear and tear very quickly. You can find a list of shops selling authentic athletic footwear at the end of the video shown above.

Ly Chinh Thang street is lined with shoe shops which carry shoes in a variety of sizes and styles.  The other shoe street, Luu Van Lang is just outside of Ben Thanh Market and one block away from Le Loi street.  The shops on this street have more sports shoes and sandals whereas the shops on Ly Chinh Thang street carry more fashion shoes.

Location of Shoes Street 1 (Ly Chinh Thang)
Location of Shoes Street 2 (Luu Van Lang)

Shoes shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

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3. HANDBAGS AND LUGGAGE

If you need to buy luggage to transport your newly purchased goods, visit Le Lai street between New World Hotel and Ben Thanh Market.  You will see an entire street of luggage shops with the most well-known brands such as North Face, Samsonite, and more!  Alternatively, if you need a fashionable handbag or wallet while shopping in Ho Chi Minh City, visit Saigon Square or Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon.  If you plan on using the handbag around the city, make sure the straps are secure enough so that you are not a victim of petty theft.

Location of Le Lai Street luggage shops
Location of Saigon Square 1
Location of Saigon Square 3
Location of Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon

Handbags and Luggage shopping in Saigon

Handbags and Luggage shopping in Saigon

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4. WATCHES

Yes, it’s true, you can find excellent fake watches while shopping In Ho Chi Minh City!  Name the brand and you will find it!  Many of them are impressive imitations but you will have to feel the weight and inspect the metal on the watch to ensure that the quality is good.  Of course, Ben Thanh Market has countless stalls selling watches but expect to pay a hefty price.  If you have time to explore, check out Binh Tay Market at Cho Lon or the many small shops around the market for a better bargain.  Shop owners around the city buy their stock at this market at wholesale prices.  You can also go to Saigon Square 1 or 3 which also carry watches.

Location of Ben Thanh Market
Location of Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon

Fake Watches Ho Chi Minh City

Fake Watches Ho Chi Minh City

 


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5. HANDICRAFTS

Vietnamese handicrafts are very unique and intricate.  Vietnam is especially famous for lacquerware and coconut dinnerware.  Bowls, plates, spoons and chopsticks make great gifts and decoration!  You can also find fabulous fabric creations with patchwork and threadwork embroidery.  Or, if you prefer wood items, you might like the handcrafted wooden boats and figurines that are often sold at the markets.

The best place to find a huge variety of lacquerware at the best bargain prices is An Dong Plaza, near Cho Lon in Chinatown. We find that the choices for fabric and wood crafts are the best at Ben Thanh Market.

Location of An Dong Plaza
Location of Ben Thanh Market

Handicrafts Vietnam

Handicrafts in Vietnam

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6. ANTIQUES

Try antique street (otherwise known as Le Cong Kieu street) just outside of Ben Thanh Market.  People have commented that the stores are riddled with imitations but you may find a diamond in the rough!  Items include old money, stamps, war memorabilia, figurines made of ivory or bone and more.  Be careful when buying “antiques” in Vietnam however as it is illegal to export real antiques out of the country.

Antiques shopping in Ho Chi Minh City

Shopping in Ho Chi Minh City for Antiques on Le Cong Kieu street

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7. PAINTINGS

Ho Chi Minh City is home to many art galleries which host the most talented local artists.  However, for copies of famous pieces of art or for original paintings by lesser-known artists, visit the “painting street”.  Like shoes, there are not one but two streets that are chock-a-block full of painting shops!  More locals shop at the painting stores in District 5 than the one in District 1, but you will surely find a great selection wherever you choose to go!

Location of Paintings Street 1 (Tran Phu Street, District 5)
Location of Paintings Street 2 (Bui Vien Street, District 1)

Paintings Ho Chi Minh City

Paintings Ho Chi Minh City

 

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8. FABRIC

Vietnam is often touted as the next custom tailoring capital of the world!  If you have time to tailor custom outfits, we strongly recommend that you visit ‘fabric street’ to find an excellent selection of cloth for your tailored creations.  Fabric street is located directly across from Tan Dinh Market.  You will find even better deals on the fabric inside the market, although the stores across the street have a wider selection of fabric types.  You can also visit Soai Kinh Lam material market in Cho Lon.  This is a wholesale market so the prices are cheaper and the choices are more abundant.  Tailors will charge less if you come with your own fabric but make sure you check with the tailor first with regard to how much material is needed for your garments.

Location of Tan Dinh Market 
Location of Fabrics Street (Hai Ba Trung)
Location of Soai Kinh Lam Material Market

Fabrics markets in Ho Chi Minh City

Fabrics markets in Ho Chi Minh City

 

Vietnam is a cash-based society, which means that there is no such thing as a fixed price.  You must absolutely bargain for the goods you wish to purchase. Remember that, in a market, there will be several stores that carry the items that you want.  Therefore, the best strategy in getting things at an appropriate price is not getting attached very quickly to what you want to buy.  In many cases, the owner will call you back if you walk away and agree on a reasonable price!  Use the following phrases to help you with your negotiations while shopping in Ho Chi Minh City!

Shopping Phrases in Vietnam

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Final Word of Advice:

Do you have a limited amount of time in Ho Chi Minh City? Looking for a for a one-stop shopping experience?

We recommend in order of importance:

  1. Ben Thanh Market
  2. Saigon Square
  3. An Dong Plaza

Note: It pays to keep in mind that Ben Thanh Market, albeit convenient, can be much more expensive than the other markets due to its central location and frequency of tourist shoppers in search of the perfect souvenir. When shopping at Ben Thanh Market you should start with 40-50% of the original asking price and negotiate from there.  If the store owner does not lower the price, you can just as easily go to the next stall. In comparison, you should expect to get no more than 10-20% discount on goods that you purchase at Saigon Square. You will see more locals shopping at Saigon Square or An Dong Plaza.  Wherever you choose to shop, we are confident that you will be thoroughly impressed with what Vietnam has to offer.  We hope you have fun shopping in Ho Chi Minh City! If you need to find the perfect souvenir our shopping scooter tour will be a good deal for you to bargain the good price.

We hope you enjoyed this Vietnam travel tip brought to you by XO Tours, offering the best and most acclaimed food and scooter tours in Vietnam! If you’re overwhelmed by the size of Ho Chi Minh City and want to make the most of your time, consider booking our popular “Sights” morning city tour, and our famous “Foodie” street food tour! You can learn more about both tours by visiting our homepage by clicking our logo at the top.

How is Vietnamese Coffee Made? Does Starbucks Know?

Starbucks vs Vietnamese Coffee

Starbucks vs Vietnamese Coffee

Well, it has happened – Starbucks has finally opened shop in the coffee capital of Asia!  You may be wondering does Starbucks know Vietnamese coffee as well as the Vietnamese?  How will it compete with the long-standing Trung Nguyen Coffee or Highlands Coffee?  Will it hurt local coffee shops or will people continue to frequent roadside coffee stands?  These are questions that will be answered only with time.  In the meantime, let us teach you a little bit about coffee production in Vietnam and, more importantly, how to make a perfect Vietnamese coffee at home!

Fun Vietnamese Coffee Facts:

  • Vietnam is now the number one C. Robusta exporter in the world, beating out Brazil in 2012!
  • Vietnam specializes in crap coffee!  Yes, you read that right… perhaps you have heard of weasel coffee?  The weasel eats the finest coffee fruits and excretes the bean.  It has a definite distinct taste and “weasel coffee” or “ca phe chon” is a delicacy enjoyed around the world!
  • Vietnamese grown coffee beans are a major component in most grocery store instant coffee brands.
  • Coffee producers in Vietnam are making an effort to grow the finer and more expensive C. Arabica in order to make Vietnam a coffee production powerhouse (if it isn’t one already).
  • Ca phe sua, coffee with condensed milk on the bottom Vietnamese style, is delicious!  Condensed milk was originally used in place of fresh milk because of difficulties with milk storage in a tropical climate, but we just think it’s genius.  🙂
How it all begins... a weasel enjoying delicious coffee berries!

How it all begins… a weasel enjoying delicious coffee berries!

Coffee beans in weasel excrement before being roasted and packaged...

Coffee beans in weasel excrement before being roasted and packaged…

From Farm to Home:

Vietnam primarily grows the C. Robusta variety of coffee. The berries are manually picked during harvest season, which is usually November to February. In the "dry method" of coffee production, the berries are directly dried without removing the fruit. Workers will sometimes walk over the drying fruit to press them down and turn them. The dried berries go to the mill to remove the outer layers until the bean is exposed. Vietnam mostly exports "green coffee", which is the dried inner bean that has yet to be roasted.

Vietnam primarily grows the C. Robusta variety of coffee. The berries are manually picked during harvest season, which is usually from November to February. In the “dry method” of coffee production, the berries are directly dried without removing the fruit. Workers will sometimes walk over the drying fruit to press them down and turn them. The dried berries go to the mill to remove the outer layers until the bean is exposed. Vietnam mostly exports “green coffee”, which is the dried inner bean that has yet to be roasted.

 

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Vietnamese Coffee:

Things needed for Vietnamese coffee

These are things you need to make Vietnamese coffee: a special kind of coffee filter called a “phin”, really strong and bitter coffee (traditionally the C. Robusta type of coffee is used which is naturally more bitter than other coffee types), and sweetened condensed milk.

  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of condensed milk at the bottom of the glass.
  • Put the chamber of the phin on top of the glass and add 1.5 tablespoons of filter coffee.
  • Place the press on top and push/screw it down to the level of the coffee grounds.
  • Add a little bit of hot water to allow the grounds to swell.
  • After a minute, add hot water up to the top of the chamber and put the lid on to keep everything hot.
  • After 3-5 minutes of brewing, remove the whole phin and stir your milk and coffee creation.
  • Enjoy your coffee piping hot or add a bit of ice for a hot summer’s day!
Give the coffee a few minutes to brew completely through the phin filter before enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Or, pour it over a cup of ice for a cold drink on a hot day!

Give the coffee a few minutes to brew completely through the phin filter before enjoying a hot cup of coffee. Or, pour it over a cup of ice for a cold drink on a hot day!

 

If you want to discover more of food specialties, you may want to join our Ho Chi Minh City food tour.

How to Spend One Day in Ho Chi Minh City – Custom Itineraries for Vietnam

How to spend one day in Ho Chi Minh City

Looking to spend one day in Ho Chi Minh City?

If you had unlimited time in Vietnam, you would surely be able to explore every facet of what makes this country unique. Unfortunately, many people who travel here have limited time,some only a half day to tour Hcmc, and want to make the most of it.  As part of our new “Custom Itineraries for Vietnam” series, we will guide you through the various cities in Vietnam and help you experience the country to its fullest.  We will also show you how to get off the beaten path and see the country in a unique way.  The first of our “Custom Itineraries in Vietnam” series – Ho Chi Minh City!

Tourists often transit through Ho Chi Minh City before moving on to other nearby points of interest outside the city.  Though Ho Chi Minh City has a lot to offer in terms of attractions and cultural experiences, it is difficult to take part in everything when you have limited time here.  We have compiled a thorough itinerary that helps you maximize your time here.

8 things you can do in one day in Ho Chi Minh City

1.Eat Soup for Breakfast

Vietnamese people love their noodle soup dishes.  You may already be familiar with pho, but there are countless more noodle soups that are in fact not pho!  What’s more, with a generous helping of various meats, veggies, and noodles, these soups are a breakfast of champions.  So start your day off Vietnamese style and devour a bowl of Pho, Banh Canh Cua, Bun Bo Hue, or whatever the guy next to you is having.

Recommendation:  Ben Thanh market has a huge section in the middle with food stalls.  The turnover is quite high here so it is usually a safe place to eat.

Eating inside Ben Thanh market is safe, exciting, and delicious!

Eating inside Ben Thanh market is safe, exciting, and delicious!

2.Visit Ben Thanh Market

Ben Thanh market is the iconic central market in Ho Chi Minh City.  It wouldn’t be a complete trip to the city without seeing this wonder.  They sell everything from souvenirs to kitchen supplies to groceries and meat.  It’s a one-stop shop!  Or, just a great place to people watch.  This market is not air conditioned so it gets hot and muggy here during the day.  And the sellers can be quite aggressive with both tourists and locals – that’s just the nature of this market.  Having said that, it’s important to give this place a chance.  It is more than just a tourist grab.  Even for people who live here, the market sells things that are ordinarily hard to find otherwise.  The market is a lot bigger than it seems, so make sure you leave some time to navigate through and really explore all that it has to offer.  Be aware that the prices here are very marked up so be sure to negotiate.  If a sign says ‘fixed price’ and the seller is hesitant to budge, you will most likely find the same items at another stall.

3.Marvel at the Architecture

The architecture in the city is a mish-mash of new skyscrapers, old tube houses, and French colonial buildings.  The old colonial buildings in the centre of the city have a lot of character and hold a lot of history.  Fortunately, they are all quite close together so a short walk offers you the opportunity to enjoy most of them.  If you walk between the Notre Dame cathedral and the Saigon River along Dong Khoi street and wander around Nguyen Hue and Le Loi streets, you will be able to appreciate many of the beautiful old buildings of downtown Ho Chi Minh City.  If you have time, walk into the main historical post office for a closer look at colonial style architecture at its best.

Colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City. The Notre Dame cathedral, the Saigon Opera House and the Post Office are some of the most popular tourist sights.

Colonial architecture in Ho Chi Minh City. The Notre Dame cathedral, the Saigon Opera House and the Post Office are some of the most popular tourist sights.

4.Sip Some Coffee

Vietnamese people really pride themselves on their coffee and there is no shortage of coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City.  Coffee culture was huge here well before Starbucks and other big name coffee brands arrived.  If you’ve been walking around the city for a while,  sipping on coffee and people watching is the perfect break from the hustle and bustle.  Fortunately, most coffee shops have excellent regional fare.

Recommendation: One of the coolest coffee shops in the city is L’Usine at 151/1 Dong Khoi.  The entrance is through an alleyway and up two flights of stairs.

5. Get a Massage and Hair Wash

Ho Chi Minh City may be chaotic but Vietnamese people sure do know how to provide a serene escape to the chaos.  Cheap foot massages can be found everywhere and for $5-10, you can achieve complete relaxation for an hour to 90 minutes.  If you are in the mood for a more authentic spa service, get a hair wash (Goi Dau).  This isn’t a regular run of the mill hair wash – a proper Vietnamese hair wash includes a head massage, face wash and mask, and a shoulder massage!  They will even blow your hair out and style it for you after.  Read our blog on massages in Vietnam to understand the ins and outs of getting a massage here.

Recommendation:  Get a 70-minute foot massage at 118 (adequately named since its address is 118 Pasteur) for $7 including tip and then go around to Jasmine Spa (45 Ton That Thiep, at the corner of Pasteur and Ton That Thiep) for a relaxing hair wash.

6. Go on a Motorbike Tour

Soon after arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, you will notice that motorbikes are the vehicle of choice.  What better way to see the city than to experience it on the back of the bike?  XO Tours is a leading motorbike tour company in the city.  We have a range of motorbike tours to suit your taste, but by far our most popular is The Foodie.  Not only does it take you to several different districts of the city that are not generally visited by tourists, you will also have the opportunity to try the best street food Ho Chi Minh City has to offer.

The Foodie Tour takes you to see and eat in 4 other districts besides District 1.

The Foodie Tour takes you to see and eat in 4 other districts besides District 1.

7.See the Backpackers’ Area

Ho Chi Minh City is a popular destination for backpackers because it is relatively cheap to travel around here.  Over time, this small area around Pham Ngu Lao and Bui Vien streets has become a magnet for budget accommodations, colourful restaurants, and lively watering holes.  Even if you aren’t traveling as a backpacker, this particular area in the city is a tourist attraction in itself.  It is quite lively at night when hundreds of people sit on child-sized plastic stools, drink local beer and mingle with the crowd.

8.Take in a View of Saigon

The city has very few tall buildings so going to the top of one of these buildings gives you an excellent view of the city.  Luckily, there are a handful of bars on really high floors so you can enjoy the view and sip on a drink at the same time.  After a long and activity-filled day in Ho Chi Minh City, this is the perfect way to end your night.  It is mesmerizing to look out onto the streets hundreds of feet below and truly appreciate how the city moves. It’s a good way to relax in Saigon.

The different kinds of nightlife in the city - backpacker style with watering holes on the street and upscale rooftop bars with an amazing view of the city.

The different kinds of nightlife in the city – backpacker style with watering holes on the street and upscale rooftop bars with an amazing view of the city.

Recommendation:  The Heli Bar in the Bitexco tower (52nd Floor, 2 Hai Trieu) is one of the highest viewing points in the city, but the perspective is much better from Chill Skybar (AB Tower, 76 Le Lai).  Both these places have a strict dress code and shoe policy.

Our recommended locations within District 1 to visit during your action-filled day in Ho Chi Minh City. For sights outside D1, we recommend taking a motorbike tour.

Our recommended locations within District 1 to visit during your action-filled day in Ho Chi Minh City. For sights outside D1, we recommend taking a motorbike tour.

We hope you enjoyed the 1st part in our “Custom Itineraries in Vietnam” series.  To help you make the most of your time in Ho Chi Minh City, XO Tours offers many day tours with the most professional tour guides in Vietnam.  To learn more about our tours, please visit our main tour page,

The best time to visit Vietnam – Vietnam Weather

 

The best time to visit Vietnam

The best time to visit Vietnam

Weather and climate can often affect how much you enjoy your vacation and what activities are feasible during your travels.  In Vietnam especially, this is a huge consideration.  With more than 2000 miles between the Northern and Southern tips of the country, the weather in Vietnam in incredibly varied.  Fortunately, regardless of when you visit the country, you can maximize your time in good weather.  Use these Vietnam travel tips to decide the best time to visit Vietnam.

A simple chart showing the dry and wet seasons of Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam.

A simple chart showing the dry and wet seasons of Northern, Central, and Southern Vietnam.

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT VIETNAM:

(please click on the link below to jump directly to the region)

  1. The Best Time to Visit NORTHERN VIETNAM – Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay
  2. The Best Time to Visit CENTRAL VIETNAM – Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang
  3. The Best Time to Visit SOUTHERN VIETNAM – Da Lat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc

The Best Time to Visit NORTHERN VIETNAM – Sapa, Hanoi, Halong Bay

The mountainous regions of the north are characterized by wet and hot summers and dry and cold winters.  The dry season lasts from October to the end of March (average 20C, although in the far north the average is much lower) and the wet season from April to September (average 28C).  Come prepared for chilly weather in December and January – you may even see snow in the far mountainous North!  Although the temperature drops in the dry season, it is much more pleasant to visit Northern Vietnam during this time.

Travel Tips

Halong Bay: Cruises in Halong Bay are astonishing. But wet season marks for occasional storms in the Bay so cruises are frequently cancelled or cut short when there is a storm warning.

Sapa:  Sapa can be scenic in both wet season and dry season.  Early spring (April) is when many of the flowers are blooming so the scenery can be very colourful and lively.  However, the rice fields around Sapa only have one harvest a year so if you want to see the lush green rice terraces, you have to visit around October.


The Best Time to Visit CENTRAL VIETNAM – Hue, Hoi An, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang

Central Vietnam is more varied in temperature from city to city.  Nha Trang and Quy Nhon are more south so they have a much longer dry season from January to September (average 28C).  In contrast, Hue, Da Nang and Hoi An have a dry season from January to August at best (average 25C).  Hue’s weather is known to be notoriously bad in that it stays gloomy and drizzly for the greater part of the year due to its unique location within a mountain range.  Just on the other side of the mountain range, Hoi An and Da Nang tend to stay hotter and drier.  Keep in mind that the wet season in this part of Vietnam often brings typhoons and nasty rain storms.

Travel Tips

Nha Trang and Quy Nhon – Early September is an ideal time to visit this part of central Vietnam – the weather is still nice enough to enjoy the pristine beaches with little rain and the cities are not riddled with tourists, as peak tourism season in this area is from June-August.  However, the beaches are at their best and most beautiful in April!

Hue – The Phong Nha caves near Hue are a popular tourist destination and a must see if you will be traveling in this area.  One of the most unique experiences here is to be able to swim in the river that runs through the caves but this is only possible in the dry months.  During the wet season, the water level is too high and there is too much sediment in the water to permit swimming.


The Best Time to Visit SOUTHERN VIETNAM – Da Lat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc

The cities in the south also vary considerably weather wise but the climate here is more temperate than Northern and Central Vietnam (25C -35C year round).  The wet season lasts from May to November and the remainder of the year stays mostly dry.  Although the temperature remains nearly the same, the humidity varies a lot throughout the year.  Be prepared for peak humidity between February and May.  Fortunately, during the wet season, you can expect heavy rainfall usually only once a day for a short period of time.  Farther south, Phu Quoc gets more rainfall than other parts of South Vietnam and the waters are less blue and more choppy during wet season, although Phu Quoc is highly visited year round.  Da Lat is quite different than other places in the South because the city is perched in the highlands.  It can be cold in the winter, around December and January (average 20C), and really wet and humid from June to October.

Travel Tips

Phu Quoc:  the island is still developing so many of the roads are not fully built.  If you want to make your way to the other beaches on the island during the wet season, be prepared for a very muddy trip!

Da Lat:  Da Lat is known for outdoor adventure sports like canyoneering and whitewater rafting but many outfitters will cancel excursions in the wet season if the water levels are too high or if the current is too strong.


We wish you dry weather and sunny skies during your time to Vietnam and remember to pack appropriately for your trip.  Have questions for us about our Vietnam tours?  Check out our FAQ page and see if other customers have had similar inquiries.

 

A Guide to Massages in Vietnam

One of the first stops in Vietnam for many travelers is the massage parlor!  Getting a massage in Vietnam (along with world-class street food and shopping) is a big part of tourism here and is a perfect escape from the heat and bustle outside. But what’s the big deal with massages in Vietnam? Here’s a rundown of the popular types of massages you will find in Vietnam and some recommended massage parlors in Saigon, Hanoi and Hoi An!

traditional massages in Vietnam

 

Massages in Vietnam

Here is what you need to know about massages in Vietnam

    1. What is a Vietnamese Massage?
    2. Things you need to know about Massages and Massage Palours

XO Tours Recommendations

    1. Recommended spas in Ho Chi Minh city
    2. Recommended spas in Hoi An
    3. Recommended spas in Hanoi

 


 

What is a Vietnamese Massage?

Massage therapy has existed in Vietnam for centuries.  In the early days, massage establishments were considered shady businesses where men would go to commit adultery or to simply get away from their wives. In fact, it was considered shameful to be recognized while coming out of such an establishment. Not so much the case anymore, so feel free to enjoy good massages here as much you’d like!

 

Traditional massages in Vietnam

 

Vietnamese massage is influenced mostly from Chinese methods of therapy but has evolved to be unique in that it really focuses on kneading and working out the knots in the muscles.  By contrast, Thai massages use a lot of muscle movement, stretching, and moving limbs. To add more confusion to the mix, a foot massage isn’t necessarily just a foot massage!  Most places will add-in a body massage to some degree.  And does reflexology really work?  It depends on whom you ask!  But the many foot massage parlours claim it does and can do wonders for your body simply by invigorating pressure points on your feet.  Some parlours will also use hot stones strategically placed at points on your body to stimulate and warm the muscles in the area.  Again, does this work?  Maybe, but the point is that it feels good. 🙂  So how do you know which massage parlour or spa is right for you?  Here’s how…

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What you need to know about Massages in Vietnam: 

  • Some massage parlors are staffed with scantily clad women who eye potential customers as they walk by (especially in Saigon). These places may not seem like a legitimate spa but most are. They are more like a men’s club where men can get a proper shave, sit in the sauna or lounge in the VIP area, order food and get a massage at the same time!

    traditional spa and massage in Saigon

    A spa in Saigon

  • Many masseuses offer their services roadside or on the beach in a public setting. These massages tend to be much cheaper than at established spas but for a basic foot massage, it doesn’t get better than this!

    foot massage on beach

    Massage on the beach

If you go to a place that specifies that it’s a foot massage spa, the routine and choices are pretty simple.  You will be instructed to lay down on a foot massage chair/bed and will be given shorts to change into, although some places don’t require you to change.  After that, all you will have to do is simply fall into a state of complete bliss for the duration of your massage!

foot massage in a spa
  • At established spas, the massage menu can be quite lengthy.  These spas are usually more expensive as well so it would be hard to find one that offers a $5 massage.  It’s questionable whether a simple foot massage would be that much better at these places than at a dedicated foot massage parlour.  The spas are more known for their facials, body scrubs and other spa treatments.
massages in Vietnam
  • A word about tipping – many of the ‘men’s club’ type establishments will demand a hefty tip.  For instance, if your service was only 120,000 VND, you may have to put down more than 100,000 VND in tips.  The reason is that the girls who work there earn solely on commission so a tip is almost expected.  Be careful of this as it catches many tourists by surprise.  At spas and foot massage parlours, many advertise a price with tip included.  If it doesn’t state that anywhere, be sure to clarify! This is very important because they will either say that a tip is not necessary or give you a specific number as to how much the minimum tip should be.  It is best to establish all of this before you start your massage. Also make sure you bring enough cash to pay for your massage, as many spas do not accept credit card payments in Vietnam.
dong cash in Vietnam
  • A word about travel safety in Vietnam – don’t walk into a spa or massage parlor with a lot valuable belongings. If a place looks suspicious, it probably is! Go to one of the other 100+ massage establishments in the city. 🙂  And for our female readers, it’s not uncommon to have a male masseur, especially at foot massage places, but feel free to relax and enjoy the massage as it’s very doubtful that they will make you feel uncomfortable or do anything inappropriate.

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For a great massage in Vietnam here are a few recommendations:

The Best Massage Parlors in Ho Chi Minh City:

  1. Indochine Spa: 69 Thu Khoa Huan, District 1
  2. Cat Moc Spa: 61-63 Tran Dinh Xu, District 1
  3. Temple Leaf Spa & Sauna: 32 Thai Van Lung, District 1

 The Best Massage Parlors in Hoi An:

  1. The Calm Spa:  35 Lê Thánh Tông, Hội An
  2. Citrus Health Spa: 99 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoi An
  3. Ma Spa: 111B Le Thanh Tong, Hoi An

 The Best Massage Parlors in Hanoi:

  1. Omamori Spa: 52A Hàng Bún, Ba Đình District
  2. Just MassageNo. 237 Au Co, Tay Ho District
  3. Moc Spa: 65A Tran Quoc Toan, Hoan Kiem District

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We hope you found this article about massages in Vietnam helpful! Please check our blog regularly to receive more useful Vietnam travel tips! And if you’re traveling to  Ho Chi Minh City or Hoi An, please considering joining us on one of our famous Vietnam tours.