Shopping in Halong
Shopping in and around Halong Bay can be an exciting and worthwhile travel experience. While enjoying the limestone karst formations, the beauty of the hidden caves, and the luxurious beaches, be sure to stop and purchase some souvenirs to remind you of the trip once you return home.
The Night Market at Bai Chay
When visiting Halong Bay, you should make time to visit Bai Chay’s night market. The night market is a series of open air stalls, much like other traditional marketplaces. These stalls sell traditional Vietnamese souvenirs, such as the conical hats commonly seen worn by the local women, which are called ‘non la’. Also available are dolls which are dressed in the women’s long dress, which is called the ‘Ao dai’. Other frequent souvenirs include lacquered chopsticks, wooden chopstick holders, lacquered dishes, ceramic tea sets, t-shirts, dresses, rich silk fabric and the famous wooden statues of Vietnamese ladies. Most shops will also offer snacks of chips and drinks, as well.
Since prices are often marked significantly higher than their fair market values, you should attempt to negotiate a lower price. If the shopkeeper will not lower his price, then move on to the next stall where another vendor may be more willing to compromise. For a more adventurous experience, trading can be done between different market shops.
There are also boats which act as floating shops. These can be found nearby cruise ships, wharf and in makeshift areas where vendors lash their boats together, creating a floating market. These waterborne convenience stores will carry much of the traditional fare, as well as fresh seafood. It is common for these smaller floating shops to tie on to a larger junk and offer their fresh lobster, fish, shellfish, prawns, and other fresh locally caught seafood. There are many opportunities to visit any one of the tourist junks in a bay that is full of them. While it may cost more to buy traditional items from a floating shop, the unique experience is often worth the extra cost for tourists.
Other Nearby Markets
While visiting Halong Bay cruises, be sure to visit the nearby Halong market. Sitting in the center of Halong City, this market is a source for high quality and inexpensive local seafood, including the delicious hot squid ball. The Mong Cai market is popular for sightseeing as well as purchasing fabrics, clothes, fruit and high tech products. Another available market is near Sung Sot Cave, which is within easy reach while visiting the Amazing Caves. The most unique market near Halong Bay is the Binh Lieu market, which is in the highlands of the Quan Ninh province. The traders there will carry different locally grown agricultural products such as rice, corn, cinnamon oil, anise, and honey.
A visit to Halong Bay is not complete until you enjoy the many markets in the area. The experience will help you to treasure your time in the area even more.