Vietnam is bursting with culture and remains one of southeast Asia’s most treasured destinations for the adventurous and bold. Yet, the country’s bustling streets are brimming with more than just motorbikes and food stalls — they’re also home to some of the best shopping that Southeast Asia has to offer. Nearly every other shop window in major cities in Vietnam boasts beautiful handicrafts and handmade souvenirs touted by friendly shopkeepers who beckon you in with smiles and waves. Among the wares, though, are some truly unique gems that hold deeper meaning for Vietnam and the culture of the Vietnamese people.
1. Propaganda Art
There is certainly no shortage of propoganda-style art in Vietnam — testaments to the style can be found on anything from t-shirts, canvas totes and calendars. But propoganda art has an important historical background in Vietnam. Many of the most famous images were created between 1960 and 1974 during the country’s most turbulent and war-torn years, and were used as a means to promote solidarity and strength among the Vietnamese people. The creations most often feature not only brightly coloured images of people and places, but also stirring phrases calling for national unity, improved infrastructure or hoa binh, meaning peace. Now, visitors can easily find prints on rice paper or in calendars and postcards. Plus, most have accompanying translations of the slogans, which offer an even better glimpse into the history of these pieces of true Vietnamese artwork.
2. Silk Paintings
You can easily buy Silk paintaings in many shop in Vietnam
Although Vietnam is widely known for its silk, few are aware of Vietnam’s unique brand of silk painting. Although silk painting in Vietnam reached its height of popularity from 1925 to 1945, it continues as one of the most iconic art forms for Vietnamese artisans. Silk paintings are known for their mystical appearance and simple, poetic themes showcasing peaceful countrysides and pagodas. Unlike traditional painting, silk painting uses the silk’s natural colour and texture as the backdrop for the scene that is often created in vivid colours. Silk painting is now found not only on wall hangings, but also on beautifully decorated scarves and, occasionally, on the traditional ao dai.
3. Woven Textiles
Woven textiles are perfect souvernirs
Perhaps one of the less recognized Vietnamese art forms is that of the woven textiles from northern Vietnam in Sapa. Home to a large population of Hmong people — known as the “black Hmong” owing to their predominantly black clothing — the textiles in this area of made of hemp, which feels similar to linen. These textiles feature bold geometric shapes in bright colours that are traditionally used in clothing, but now can be found on anything from purses to shoes. A similar style of textiles also come from the ethnic Cham people in Vietnam, and features the same style of bold colours and complex geometric designs. While these textiles are beautiful, they often are paired with lower-quality assemblage, so checking the quality of the zipper and straps when buying a purse would be wise for any buyer.
Vietnam lacquer products
Lacquer painting is practiced around Asia, but Vietnam’s own lacquerware is unique since it uses the resin from the son tree from which the artform derives its name, son mai. The style in Vietnam was cultivated in the early to mid-1900s with French influence from the colonial era, but has been passed down through artisan families for centuries beforehand. Lacquerware is actually highly work-intensive, with most high quality lacquer products undergoing 20 stages through their development, and can be used to create bowls, vases, dishes and place settings in a variety of vivid colours and simple to intricate designs. Recently, photography has begun to find its way into lacquerware, with the traditional lacquer style used over images created by local photographers. There are a handful of lacquerware galleries that produce the finest quality pieces created in the same way it has been throughout generations.
5. Vietnam traditional Coffee, Tea and Candy
Coffee, Tea and candy do not sound fancy or might be out of someone’s souvenir list. However, you should know that Vietnam now is on the top world biggest coffee and tea exporter. This country provides high quality and great coffee and tea as well as varety of amazing traditional candy such as green bean coffee, coconut candy, lotus seeds candy… These products can be wonderful sourvenir for those who love coffee, tea and sweets. The good news is a lot of coffee, tea and candy are now packed in luxury boxes that are perfect to give away.