All Articles Everything you need to know about shopping in Hanoi

Everything you need to know about shopping in Hanoi

Here’s how to find the best souvenirs—and tailors.

Dan Q. Dao
By Dan Q. Dao03 Apr 2024 5 minutes read
Old City. Hanoi, Vietnam
Image: Gonzalo Azumendi/Getty Images

A two millennia–old city that anchors one of Asia’s fastest-modernizing countries, Hanoi sits at the dynamic nexus of old meets new. And its vibrant shopping scene is a reflection of this, with everything from time-honored cultural crafts to contemporary designer goods for sale here. Having lived between New York City and Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon) for the past few years, I always make it a point to head up to Hanoi to browse for fashionable gifts and gear alike.

While Hanoi, a city of 8.5 million people, is vast and spread out, the central area for visitors is located in and around the walkable Old Quarter and the nearby French Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake, where you’ll find Hanoians of all ages hanging out around the waterfront. In these buzzy areas, old-school markets stand side by side with modern boutiques, offering cute souvenirs, apparel, and more for you to take home. Here’s my ultimate shopping guide to Hanoi.

For traditional markets

Dong xuan market largest market in hanoi
Image: Vu Viet Dung/Getty Images

From the historic Dong Xuan Market to the lively atmosphere of the Old Quarter’s night market, Hanoi's traditional markets offer a glimpse into old-school Vietnamese culture. Whether you're looking for souvenirs, handicrafts, or street food, these markets are must-visits.

Dong Xuan Market: Since opening in the late 1800s, the market has undergone multiple renovations and expansions, and today covers more than 150,000 square feet with some 2,000 stalls selling everything from apparel to toys and knock-offs. When you’re ready for a snack, head to the on-site Dong Xuan Food Alley, which is lined with kiosks hawking traditional dishes like steamed rice cakes and pork noodle salads.

Night Market in the Old Quarter: On weekends, the pedestrian-friendly streets around Hoan Kiem Lake come alive with a busy night market hawking the usual apparel, trinkets, and souvenirs. You'll find food vendors along the nearby alleys and connecting streets, too. At sunset, Hanoian youth and elderly folks alike congregate for singing, dancing, and socializing.

Quang Ba Flower Market: You might not be able to bring any of these goods home, but if you love flowers, it may be worth making a memorable stop at this market, which starts operation at around 2 a.m. near the West Lake area. In these early morning hours, vendors from outside the city come flooding in, filling the streets with roses, lotuses, chrysanthemums, and other seasonal flowers.

Tip: Note that in traditional markets, bargaining is not only expected but encouraged. Be prepared to banter with hawkers—we recommend starting at 50 percent of the initially quoted price and working up from there. Don’t be afraid to move on to another vendor, compare prices, and make an executive decision. It’s part of the fun.

For iconic fashion brands

Hanoi has a reputation for being more traditional than its southern counterpart Saigon. But that’s not to say there isn’t a thriving creative scene here. Indeed, some of Vietnam’s most notable brands are based here in Hanoi.

Subtle Le Nguyen: One of Vietnam’s best contemporary high-fashion brands, Subtle Le Nguyen stocks quality, minimalist garments with attention to culturally significant silhouettes and details.

Leninn: This skate-inspired apparel shop is one of Hanoi’s most popular boutiques for contemporary streetwear and skateboards (plus a few wild cards, like skateboard chairs). There are currently two locations, and the one at Nguyen Hy Quang also has an on-site coffee shop.

Goldie: This popular label combines technical fabrics with experimental knitting and dyeing techniques. Many of their garments—ranging from outerwear and knitwear to polos and quilted pants—showcase unique details like hand-distressing and asymmetrical constructions. There are two locations, but the one on Pho Hue is closer to Hanoi’s main attractions.

Lonely Stonie: Founded by local singer and rapper Wxrdie, this hip-hop–centric label is stocked with graphic tees, jerseys, and sunglasses.

The New Playground: To find local brands from all over Vietnam under one roof, head to the Hanoi outpost of the beloved Saigon-based mini-mall.

For local crafts and boutiques

Collective Memory shop in Hanoi
Collective Memory
Image: Management/Tripadvisor

If you’re looking for explicitly Vietnamese-themed souvenirs, Hanoi has several boutiques specializing in local crafts—both traditional and contemporary. Highlighting the creativity of homegrown artisans, these shops offer everything from knick-knacks and homewares to graphic prints and clothes.

54 Traditions Gallery: Part gallery, part antique shop, this gallery focuses on the traditions and art of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups—each of which has its own language, culture, and cuisine. From the textiles of Central Highland groups to the water puppets of Northern Vietnam, the selection will introduce you to Vietnam’s rich diversity.

Tired City: If you spend an hour walking around the Old Quarter, you might run into several locations of Tired City, an excellent homegrown chain of boutiques specializing in locally-made prints, calendars, cards, and magnets. The busiest location is the original flagship on Bao Khanh Street.

MasterTan: From essential oils and incense to spices, tea, coffee, and chocolate, the selection here offers you the chance to take home the iconic tastes and aromas of Vietnam.

Collective Memory: Founded by a Vietnamese travel writer and photographer duo, this eclectic arts shop sells an array of souvenirs including books, towels, and handbags made from recycled materials.

Gingko: The souvenir to get here is a t-shirt with the shop’s gingko leaf logo, but there are made-in-Vietnam totes, mugs, card decks, and notebooks on sale, too. There are two locations in the Old Quarter area, on Hang Be and Hang Gai streets.

For custom tailoring

custom tailored suit at NGO GIA Tailor in Hanoi
custom tailored women's suit at NGO GIA Tailor in Hanoi
Image: NGO GIA Tailor Management/Tripadvisor

While Saigon may be Vietnam’s fashion capital, Hanoi stands out for the excellence of its custom tailoring. These competitive shops are known for their quality fabrics as well as their quick turnaround and kind service.

Bambou Silk Tailors: Conveniently located near the stunning St. Joseph Cathedral, this family-run shop offers great service with often 48-hour turnarounds for suits and even some custom dresses depending on bandwidth.

Ngo Gia Tailor: Get custom suits and shirts at this popular tailor shop near Hoan Kiem Lake. If you’re unable to take your pieces with you due to luggage constraints, the shop is happy to ship your new fits.

Tip: If you’re looking to take home something special and customized to you, make sure to stop at a custom tailor as soon as you land so you can pick up your garment before you leave.

For a Southeast Asian mega-mall experience

Like most warm-weather Southeast Asian cities, Hanoi has numerous air-conditioned indoor mega-malls offering a range of international labels and local designer goods. Plus, you can find some decent dining options in the malls when you need to refuel.

The best of these is the Aeon Mall, which has a few locations, the largest of which is located about a 30-minute drive away from the city center in the Ha Dong area. There are more than 200 stores and dining options across four floors here, including Western chains like GAP and UNIQLO and local brands like AMM Official. For a bite to eat, stop by the popular Vietnamese pizzeria 4P.

Dan Q. Dao
Dan Q. Dao is a culture writer, editor, and the founder of District One, a creative consultancy focused on food & drink brands. Prior to this, he served as assistant food & drink editor at Time Out and deputy digital editor at Saveur. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Vice, and Paper. Learn more at danqdao.com.