Study deadlines of course bring on the urge to bake, clean and shop but rather than head into the dangerous territory of online shopping, I thought I’d take myself on a little virtual shop through my favourite places in Hanoi. I started this post last week, but a malfunction with my photo album and study took over and so it’s been over a week between posts.
When I drafted this post initially, I was going to make the point it is now over three months since we left Hanoi and that like many places in South East Asia, Hanoi is changing fast. As it turns out in the last few days, I have learned about a few new places but I’ll still be sharing this with friends and asking them to add to this – and of course, if you have been to Hanoi and want to add anything, please comment below.
There are also lots of tourist maps around, but I would recommend the Nancy Chandler hand drawn map of Hanoi which you can find at various places including Bookworm. Updates also appear on the Nancy Chandler web page.
It’s no secret that the vast majority of my Hanoi wardrobe was from Chula. From the first time I set eyes on these amazing designs, rainbow colours and perfect fit I was hooked. Although many of us in Hanoi had similar designs, I don’t think I ever showed up wearing something the same as anyone. I also loved how Laura & Diego and their team would alter things to suit – my last dress which I wore for my 40th being adapted from a poncho.
Laura & Diego are passionate about what they do and have really created something special. Once a small studio in their home, they have moved out allowing for the expansion of the shop space which also doubles as a venue for art and music (and includes the family alter of the landlords which is still used daily and is an incredible sight). It’s also on a pretty part of Ho Tay (West Lake) which is worth a visit (just near the pottery covered dragons) and if you can’t make it to Hanoi, best thing is they are now online. So you can shop the collection or even send your measurements in for something custom made and they’ll send it anywhere in the world (just make sure you tell them I sent you)!
Vietnamese for “silk street” it’s probably no surprise that this was one of my favourite shopping streets in Hanoi. I often did a mad dash from the office in the last lunch hour before leaving for Australia to stock up on last minute gifts. I’ll talk about Tan My, Ginko and Hanoi Moment below, but other good shops include Ninh Khuong for embroidered clothes and gifts for babies and children and of course being silk street, lots of shops selling silk. Han Gai is also home to the Hidden Café (great Vietnamese Coffee especially egg coffee with a view over the lake – see my post on the things I miss about Hanoi).
If Chula was my favourite place (and weakness) for dresses, then it was Tan My for everything else. It was my favourite place to take guests and the best place to buy good quality gifts including lacquer, linen, gorgeous Valerie Cordier handbags, art deco lamps from My Way deco, art prints and Vietnamese themed stationery and kids books.
Ginko sell funky t-shirts in kids and adults sizes. My favourite is probably their Vietnam telecom shirt which has sadly been picked up by all the t-shirt copiers and one with various activities on a motorbike (everything from moving house to sleeping). Ginko have a couple of shops in Hanoi, including on Hang Gai, and are also in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City
Another great shop on Hang Gai. I’ve bought silver jewelry and candleholders, great pottery and they also do some really interesting boxes inlaid with rolled paper.
Future Traditions beautiful clothes using indigenous textiles sourced from across Vietnam as well as beautiful jewelry. It was Cynthia from Future Traditions that alerted me to the opening of Emporium Hanoi this Thursday 2 October at 172 Xuan Dieu.
This social enterprise has two locations – on Xuan Dieu in the Tay Ho (West Lake area) and one in Au Trieu in the Old Quarter (called Indigenous) has great coffee (both western and Vietnamese versions), and juices as well selling fair trade coffee (ground or beans) from a variety of areas in Vietnam and beautiful pottery from Bat Trang (great if you don’t have time to visit this pottery village just outside Hanoi).
Things to consider buying:
- Vietnamese conical hat – non la – great for gardening I’m told
- Bird cages – although a little tricky to ship
- Lacquer and bamboo – with the usual rule of “you get what you pay for”
- Fabric – depends what you are looking for but a trip to a fabric market like Cho Hom or even the street selling all manner of ribbons, buttons, zips and trims in the old quarter is worth it if you like sewing
Even taking a few days from my first draft on this, I’m sure as soon as I hit publish I will remember some others but these are my favourites that spring to mind as I indulge in a little virtual retail therapy..
Please share your tips and any favourites you have found in Hanoi.