5 Iconic Souvenirs To Bring Back From Vietnam

So you’re nearing the end of your magical journey gallivanting through the breathtaking scenery of Vietnam, fully immersing yourself in its rich culture and interesting history as you try to commit your most recent travel experiences permanently in your memory bank.

But during your Vietnamese-coffee-fueled adventure, you’ve neglected or forgotten to do one important thing. You realized you’ve forgotten to get a souvenir for your spouse, partner, family, friends, gym buddies, roommates, college friends, colleagues, acquaintances, neighbours, family friends, your friends’ families, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends… okay, you get the point — most people are expecting a souvenir when you return from your trip.

And as your Saigon trip ticks ever closer to its finale, you’ll inevitably fumble around Vietnam’s bountiful local markets, chaotic streets, souvenir stalls, and designer galleries looking for the perfect souvenirs to bring home as gifts.

If you’re a hapless gift-giver, here are five souvenirs from Vietnam that will definitely leave a lasting impression on the giftee.

1. Nón Lá

If you’ve ever been to Vietnam, you’ll inevitably come across this iconic headwear. Particularly during the return leg of your trip, you are likely to notice a few of these conical hats popping up on the plane home.

Referred locally as leaf hat or Nón Lá, the highly recognizable conical hat is one of Vietnam’s most enduring cultural symbols. The usage of the hats date back at least 3,000 years and is steeped in cultural sentiment and historical significance. Moreover, they’re practical too! The handwoven bamboo- or palm leaf-based conical hats can be used as protection from rain or shine.

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"Áo dài" – Hanoi, Vietnam. . – The áo dài is the traditional dress of Vietnam. These dresses are iconic and beautiful. One of the other most iconic items in Asian material culture is the conical hat. This found moment was a happy coincidence where both of these items came together into beautiful synchronicity. . . . . . . . #cultures #aodai #conicalhat #stayandwander #vietnamwonders #visitvietnam #discovervietnam #travelgram #vietnamcharm #vietnamtrip #vietnamtravel #ig_vietnam #instavietnam #theglobewanderer #visualsofearth #travelphotography #mydestinationguide #travelawesome #wonderfuldestinations #PassionPassport #humanity_shots_ #weareexplorers #planetearth #nakedplanet #theworldgrammers #lifeofadventure #people_infinity #great_captures_people #ilovevietnam #postthepeople  @passionpassport @fantastic_earth @earth @earthcapture @visualambassadors @stayandwander @depthobsessed @nakedplanet @lensofourlives @folkmagazine @theoutbound

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As a fashion item, Vietnam’s traditional dresses are typically accompanied by Nón Lá. And the leaf hats are also used as an accessory when attending festivals or when visiting pagodas. Certainly, these hats do make for a novel Vietnamese souvenir.

Here’s a tip. When you’re buying Nón Lá, it’s best to choose one with a chin strap so that it easily stays in place on your noggin.

Perfect For: family, friends, fashionistas

2. Áo Dài

Recognized as the national garment for females (but also sometimes worn by males) in Vietnam, Áo Dài is a gift best suited to those who are closer or more intimate with you.

A typical Áo Dài entails a tight-fitting long dress with long sleeves, a stand collar, and side seams that slit up to the waist, worn over long pants. Said to have royalty as its roots, each Áo Dài outfit comes in two primary colours — the long dress in one colour and the pants in a different, sometimes contrasting colour.

If you have the giftee’s measurements, we’d suggest buying a piece of Vietnamese silk fabric (also an excellent souvenir on its own) and getting a tailor-made Áo Dài done for your loved ones.

Otherwise, you may also purchase a ready-made version of the dress as a souvenir. But hey, where’s the sincerity in that, right?

Perfect For: spouses, family, fashionistas

3. Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnam and coffee lovers, name a more iconic duo.

Vietnamese coffee is one of the best things to bring back from the country as a souvenir, especially if you happen to know one or two coffee fanatics back home. The local coffee is famed for its unique preparation and delicate taste — providing the perfect balance of sweetness from the condensed milk and the slightly bitter flavour from the steeped Vietnamese coffee ground.

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Good Morning from Vietnam – Where did you have your morning coffee today. A traditional Vietnamese coffee Phin pha cà phê – The preparation process, as well as the blend of beans, helps give Vietnamese coffee its particular style. Coarsely ground beans go into a French drip filter (called a phin), which sits on top of the cup. The beans are weighted down with a thin lid, hot water is added to the phin, and then the water slowly trickles through into the cup. Most people drink the resulting dark, strong brew with sweetened condensed milk, a practice that began because the French couldn't easily acquire fresh milk. In the north of Vietnam, this mixture is referred to as ca phe nau (brown coffee), while in the south it’s called ca phe sua (milk coffee). #vietnamfoodsafari australianfoodie #foodievietnam #vietnamnow #vietnamese #vietnamesefood #vietnamfood #vietnamfoods #vietnamfoodsafari #vietnamcoffee #coffee☕ #coffee_time #foodiesfeed #streetfood #travelfood #travelfoodie #foodie #foodpic #foodphotography #coffeephoto #lovefood #wowfood #worldfood #omgfood #vietnamesefoodisthebest #vietnamesefoodie #myvietnam #goodmorningcall #goodmorningvietnam #coffeephotography #streetfoodies #travelfoodies #travelfood

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And the best thing about Vietnamese coffee is that you can find it everywhere! From the local coffee shops to mobile stalls to local markets to shopping malls and even the airport, you can literally taste the passion the Viet’s have for their coffee with each sip of the universally beloved beverage.

A pack of instant Vietnamese coffee makes for a great office gift. But for coffee aficionados, the real deal is always the best.

In this case, make it a point to sample as much of the local coffee as you can (without sacrificing sleep due to caffeine overdose, of course) and pick out the beans that you think tastes best. Buy a couple of those bags of coffee beans to bring home, pair it with the tin coffee filters (called Phin) you normally associate with Vietnamese coffee and you’ve instantly become any coffee lover’s favourite person.

Perfect For: coffee lovers, family, friends, colleagues

4. Vietnamese Lacquerware

Popular Vietnamese handicraft encompasses a wide range of items including ceramics, handmade house decor, wooden and bamboo products, paintings, propaganda posters, et cetera. Trust us, you won’t be able to buy every single handmade product Vietnam has to offer.

But can you blame us for wanting to buy everything though? They’re all so pretty!

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Phuongnam Lacquerware 日本人駐在妻の中で最初に知ったのは私なんじゃないかと思うくらい(笑)知る人ぞ知るお店です✨私はgoogleマップで遊んでいたら偶然見つけました✌️ 主に漆や貝や卵の殻や金箔を使い絵画や花瓶、小物入れ、ワイン置き、はたまた箪笥など工芸品が売られています? すべてお店に併設された工房で作られていて世界中から買いに来る人が居るそうで各言語話せるおばちゃんがいます?勿論日本語を話せる人も? ドンコイ通りのお土産屋でよく壁に工芸品の絵が売られていますが全然品質が違う‼ ️値段も高いんだろうなと思うんですが意外とそうでもなく?私が知っている範囲ではペン立てが1000円ちょっとくらい、ワイン置きが2000円くらい、A4サイズくらいの絵が3500円くらい✌️貝細工が入った大きめの花瓶が5、6000円くらい?もちろん立派な絵、ドア1枚くらいの大作なんかは50万円くらいしたりとピンキリです?使われている材料や大きさに左右されるようです? オーダーメイドも出来ます✌️写真をそのまま絵にして頂くこともできるそうで大きさにもよりますがポスターくらいのサイズで制作に3ヶ月&4、5万円くらいだそう?なお船便で送ることも出来るんですって?お友達は駐在中に子供の写真を絵にしてもらおうと言ってました✨因みに絵だけではなく工芸品や額縁等も時間はかかりますがオーダー出来るそうです? ただ難点なのはベトナムあるあるですが店員さんが説明しながらつきっきりでひっついて回ります(笑)お土産屋みたいに来客もそんなに多くはないのでただ見るだけでは入りづらいです?購入目的がないと行きづらいお店なので私は購入希望者を連れて行ったり、自分が購入するときに見学希望者を連れて行ってました? でも一度行ってみる価値はあります✨ベトナム滞在記念の品や質のいい物を求める方(旅行に来た年配の方等)のアテンド先にはもってこいです?実際来る日本人はお年寄りが多いんだとか(笑) 本当はギャラリーの写真撮影NGですが何度も通い詰めた&宣伝するよ‼️と言ったお陰か撮影許可貰えました❤️工房の写真も載せます。 #帰国前にホーチミンの色んなお店紹介シリーズ #hochiminh #phuongnamlacquerware #ベトナム在住 #ホーチミン在住 #ホーチミンで子育て #ホーチミン生活 #ホーチミン3区

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At the top of this list, Vietnam lacquerware is one of the best mementoes to bring home. A typical lacquer piece uses resin (applied in multiple layers on a wood surface) from the bark of trees to achieve that distinct vibrant hue that lacquerware has come to be known for. Some examples of lacquerware include paintings, furniture, vases, bowls, and jewellery boxes.

In addition, each piece of lacquerware is also a unique masterpiece in its own right. There’s no mass robotic production method involved when it comes to creating these works of art — just pure, time-consuming hard work and masterful skill from the lacquer artisan.

Depending on the complexity of the piece, skilled lacquer craftsmen could take up to days to complete a single item. This is due to the process comprising many stages of sealing and decorating with engravings, gold leaf or gold shell designs, and mother-of-pearl inlays under multiple layers of tree sap resin.

Indeed, lacquerware products from Vietnam are a one-of-a-kind souvenir fit for any art and design enthusiasts.

Perfect For: family, friends, colleagues, collectors, art lovers

5. Postcards

When in doubt, postcards are always a great, affordable souvenir option to fall back on.

Although postcards are as generic as they come with regards to souvenirs, there’s just something special about a handwritten postcard that has travelled thousands of km to arrive in your mailbox. And we’re pretty sure that the recipient will share the same sentiment. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?

If you happen to be in Ho Chi Minh, you could send your postcard from the iconic Central Post Office in District 1. Better yet, take a selfie with the postcard in hand in front of the majestic colonial French structure to send to the recipient, so that they know they’re on your mind even when you’re continents apart.

For something with a little more local flair, look no further than paper products. These paper products are made from the bark of the Rhamnoneuron Balansae Dó tree commonly found around Vietnam’s riverbanks and were a precursor to the modern paper in the country.

These days, paper is only used to make notebooks, paintings, ethnic greeting cards, and of course, postcards!

Perfect For: anyone

The article was originally published on 6 June 2020. Last updated by Discoverist Team as of 27 March 2023

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