Whether they’re selling clothing, pottery, silks, or souvenirs, shops in Hanoi can do some serious damage to your spending account. Tackle your wish list in Old Quarter, where 40 colonial streets offer every type of product imaginable, and then some. This fashion hub is a good place to find silk dresses and skirts, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, a local tailor will certainly offer to create something for you. Hanoi is a good place to pick up a traditional ao dai, as many local women still wear these fitted silk tunics that drape over elegant pants. Throughout the city are galleries and shops selling ceramics, lacquer and silk paintings, and traditional embroidery.
Souvenir shops are easy to come by, with the best ones located in Old Quarter and near the Temple of Literature. When buying art in Vietnam, be careful of fakes. Paintings by Vietnam's most famous painters—Bui Xuan Phai, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, and Le Thiet Cuong—are the most widely copied. Serious art collectors should consult the well-respected high-end galleries.
It's possible to have clothes made to order with enough time—one day to three weeks, depending on what you want made and the tailor's schedule. You may also need to return a couple of times to have the clothes fitted.