Hue is an old gem offering plenty of photogenic opportunities. After wandering top tourist attractions in this city like Imperial Citadel and tombs of Nguyen Emperors, or peaceful countrysides, most tourists spend their last days shopping. For foreigners, it would be a little challenging to find where to shop and know what to buy. In this article, you will find all your answers for shopping in Hue.
I. Where to Shop in Hue?
Shopping in Hue gives you a great chance to understand the local lifestyle, culture, and unique history of the city. But where are the best places to experience a real local vibe?
1. Dong Ba Market
Location: Tran Hung Dao street, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue
Opening hours: 3:00 am 8:00 pm
Dong Ba Market should be a top choice as it is one of the oldest and most popular places for shopping in Hue. The market is home to hundreds of stalls selling clothes, household items, handicrafts, and fresh products. You can easily find the market as it occupies a large grey building on Tran Hung Dao street with a large red sign saying “Chợ Đông Ba” (literally means Dong Ba market in Vietnamese).
Covering almost 16.000 square meters, it opens from very early morning to cater to numerous local market goers. The best time to visit the market is between 8 am and 11 am when it is most crowded.
The first floor features plenty of food stalls surrounding the dining section. In this area, you can enjoy many authentic Vietnamese dishes like pho, fresh spring rolls, or banh khoai (stuffed omelette) for your breakfast. It is one of the few shopping places in Hue that attract tourists to experience local lifestyle, enjoy street food, and look for souvenirs.
2. Truong Tien Plaza
Location: 6 Tran Hung Dao street, Phu Hoa ward, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue
Opening hours: 9:30 am 10:00 pm
Trang Tien is one of the most famous shopping malls in Hue that brings a luxurious shopping experience for travelers. Exploring the place, you can find almost anything you need, from high-end clothes to household items.
The 4-storey building provides food, gaming, and shopping services for all customers. There are more than 200 brands of fashion, cosmetics, accessories, handbags, and footwear here. Among them, there are many leading international brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, or Burberry, etc.
Moreover, you also have a chance to enjoy relaxing time in beautiful cafes and amazing restaurants inside and outside of the shopping mall. For Western visitors, it will make you feel like being at home. The store owners in the shopping mall can speak both English and Vietnamese, which helps your shopping easier and more conveniently.
3. Tay Loc Market
Location: 209 Nguyen Trai street, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue
Opening hours: 06:00 am 10:00 pm
Tay Loc Market mainly attracts Hue local people but travelers also can find several shopping places and snacks here. Along the street, there are some shops selling traditional accessories and garments. These items will be ideal souvenirs to remember the ancient and romantic beauty of Hue when coming back to your home. Compared to other markets, Tay Loc is the place where you get cheap shopping and buy some interesting souvenirs.
II. What to Buy in Hue?
Before shopping in Hue, it is better to have a shopping list in your mind. If you still don’t know what to buy in this poetic and charming city, you can see the below list of the most typical souvenirs.
1. Conical hat
Conical hat is a symbol of Vietnam besides “Ao dai”. You can easily see this hat anywhere in the country. However, those made in Hue seem to be the most unique and special. Unlike others, they are added poems, paintings, and impressive decorations that attract not only local people but also numerous foreigners visiting the city. Maybe it is the reason why it is also called Non Bai Tho (or Poem Hat).
During your trip, the hat will help to protect you from the sun and the rain. When returning home, the hat will be a great thing to remember about your wonderful trip in Vietnam. Around Hue, you can find these beautiful conical hats made from palm leaves at most local markets like Dong Ba Market, An Cuu market, or Ben Ngu market.
However, the best place to buy one is Tay Ho village which is about 12 km. Well known as the mecca for this kind of hat, most girls here learn to weave interesting poems into the hat since they were 10 years old while boys help to collect the materials.
2. Sinh Folk Paintings
Folk paintings are also an ideal gift for art lovers. Northern Vietnam is famous for Dong Ho paintings whereas Hue is well known for Sinh folk paintings. As its name suggests, the paintings are only made in Sinh village and have been associated with the spiritual life of locals for generations.
While Dong Ho paintings reflect daily life of northern delta residents, Sinh folk paintings mainly refer to animals, objects, and characters like owners’ protectors or dummies. In terms of materials and techniques, it is quite similar to others, using natural materials to color, drawing with brushes from pineapple trees’ roots, and printing onto Do paper from woodblocks. Coming to Sinh village, you will find numerous colorful and durable paintings hanging on the walls of village houses.
3. Thanh Tien Paper Flowers
If you have a chance to visit Hue on the occasion of Tet holiday, there is no reason not to buy Thanh Tien paper flowers. Before Lunar New Year, you will see skillful craftsmen busy with bamboo and paper to create impressive paper flowers. They are loved for their beauty and used to decorate altars or in religious rituals.
For Hue people, they pay much attention to rituals and they believe that flowers are one of the 4 most important things in any rite. However, the weather in the city is quite harsh with a lot of sunlight and rainfall, which is not ideal for using fresh flowers. Therefore, they use paper flowers instead. Gradually, these flowers became many local people’s hobbies. It takes quite a long time to finish a product, from choosing and drying bamboo to splitting and dying them before turning them into popular lotus flowers, roses, or chrysanthemum, etc. These flowers are great items to decorate your home due to their beautiful appearance. So, don’t forget to buy some before returning to your hometown.
4. Zeng Textiles
Zeng is a famous kind of textiles made and worn by Ta Po people who live in the mountainous area of central Vietnam. It is not only an art but also a cultural tradition and a reflection of how this ethnic minority group’s heritage continued to pass through generations. It is their traditional clothing with a complicated tapestry of colors and only Ta Oi weaver artisans can master the technique to create the most sophisticated pieces of Zeng textiles. However, you don’t need to visit uphill tribes to buy these sophisticated textiles because you easily can purchase some pieces of them in Hue city.
Keyword: A-Z Guide: Shopping in Hue, Vietnam for First Time Travellers