Buying Antiques in Ho Chi Minh City

Unless you have permission from the Ministry of Culture, it's against the law for you to take antiques out of Vietnam, and anyone found carrying antiques at the airport must hand them over to the authorities. This policy is unevenly enforced, however, and there's a vast gray area of what is and isn't an antique; often it's up to the whims of individual customs officers to decide. If you buy a fake article that looks like an antique, be sure to get a receipt in Vietnamese with the shop owner's signature guaranteeing the object is not genuine. Without it, you'll run into big trouble at customs. If you do decide to spend big bucks on the real thing (genuine antiques don't come cheaply in Vietnam), be sure you know what you're buying. It's very difficult to distinguish between genuine and fake items, when both sell at comparable prices. In particular, beware of restored antique timepieces, which often have a 1950s Rolex face, for example, covering the much cheaper hardware of a 1970s Seiko.

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