One is always curious to know what locals are selling and how a shopping experience in a foreign country is different from what you have at home.
In a city as large as Ho Chi Minh, there are endless opportunities for shopping ranging from local markets such as Ben Thanh to large shopping malls like Vincom Center. This guide will help you go to the right one when you visit one of Southeast Asia’s growing cities.
Saigon Center & Takashimaya
Multistory interior of Saigon Center with two large advertising placards showing portraits of models. Photo by Shutterstock/David Bokuchava.
Takashimaya and Saigon Center are two malls in one. On one side of the building is Takashimaya, the Japanese retail brand that has stores all over Asia, and the main customer at Saigon Center. You could find yourself entering Saigon Center and exiting Takashimaya, so do not be confused.
It is one of the biggest retail places you will find in Ho Chi Minh City, and has everything you expect from a mall: restaurants, clothes, perfumes and more. It ticks all the boxes for what a shopping experience should be in Vietnam‘s largest city.
The majority of brands here are international, and restaurants range from Asian to western. This is the kind of mall where you could spend a whole day.
People here speak good English since it is one of the go-to places for tourists. Prices are a bit higher than what you would find locally, but hey, it is in the heart of District 1.
Saigon Center: 65 Le Loi, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Takashimaya: 92-94 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9:30am-9:30pm & Saturday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza
Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza in District 1, HCMC. Photo by Nafi Wernsing.
As the name suggests, Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza is indeed a place for tourists. Situated just opposite another huge mall, Vincom Center, and around the corner from Nguyen Hue walking street, this is a shopping experience of its own.
As it is owned by Parkson, it is home to many international brands, with a wide variety of fragrances and perfumes on the first floor.
It offers a unique food experience with cuisines from all over the world. In fact, it is one of the oldest malls that offer international products in this country. After 14 years, it is finally being renovated, but promises to look better than ever when it reopens.
What you find here is similar to what you find at Parkson’s Hung Vuong Plaza in District 5, slightly outside what you would call the city center.
The Hung Vuong building, both inside and outside, is quite old fashioned compared to the modern Vincom Center or Diamond Plaza. But the majority of what is sold inside consists of international brands. Well-known cosmetics and fragrances can be found as well as fashion brands such as Nike and Adidas.
If you are hungry, don’t worry. Not only are you surrounded by street food in the area, but the mall itself has restaurants. Cuisines range from local food to other Asian cuisines and western fast food chains such as KFC. Hung Vuong Plaza also consists of a gym and a cinema.
Prices are roughly similar to what you would pay in your own country, especially if you are buying an international brand. There are signs in both English and Vietnamese, and basic English is understood.
There is no free wifi.
Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza: 35-45 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Parkson Hung Vuong Plaza: 126 Hung Vuong, District 5
Vendors and customers at Saigon Square, District 1, HCMC. Photo by Nafi Wernsing.
If big shopping malls are not your thing, then you should definitely pay a visit to Saigon Square, which is just across the street from the giant Saigon Center. It is more of a market than a mall.
Its tenants are local businesses that sell a variety of items ranging from clothing to jewelry in booths that stand pretty close from each other.
Here you can find international brands at prices no mall can compete with. Like Ben Thanh Market, this is a place where you should test your bargaining skills.
Address: 81 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, District 1 // Opening hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Vincom Center, one of the most popular malls in the city, is both an office building and a mall with more than 250 shops. What you get here is a dynamic shopping experience. The top and bottom floors are food heavens with endless choices.
As it is a major tourist hub, it is busy most of the time, and it does feel quite claustrophobic. It feels like a fast-paced shopping experience. However, that should not put you off as whatever you fancy or are looking for, you are guaranteed to find it there. Well-known brands such as Zara, H&M, Nike and Adidas can all be found here, and there is free wifi.
If you fancy something more leisurely, you can visit Vincom Mega Mall in District 2, which is quite popular with expats who live in the area.
As the name suggests, this Vincom mall is mega indeed. It has five floors and its own little ice ring on the top floor.
Inside Vincom Mega Mall in District 2, HCMC. Photo by Nafi Wernsing.
International brands, a gym, restaurants and even an arcade means there is something for everyone at this mall.
The signs are in both English and Vietnamese, and like most places in HCMC it has free wifi.
It is larger than Vincom Center and less busy. You definitely need a whole day to see this mall.
Vincom Center: 72 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Vincom Mega Mall: 161 Hanoi Highway, District 2 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Union Square is the most luxurious form of shopping there is in Ho Chi Minh City.
Situated close to Nguyen Hue walking street, this is a place where you will find international brands at the other end of the price spectrum. It is where you’d need to have serious cash since there are no “cheap” brands here.
However, it is still worth a visit because many brands they sell here cannot be found elsewhere.
Address: 171 Dong Khoi, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Diamond Plaza in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by Nafi Wernsing.
Standing behind the Notre Dame Cathedral, Diamond Plaza is another shopping mall in District 1 and within walking distance of Vincom Center.
This modern glass building is home to familiar brands, both international and local. The layout of Diamond Plaza is slightly different: Rather than separate stores, you will find various brands in one common area.
So there is no Nike store near an Adidas store, but instead, you will find Nike apparel with other sports apparel on one floor.
The floor layout is designed in such a way that one level is for men, one for women, and so on.
There is a floor specifically for arcades, so it is a great place for kids.
Diamond Plaza has all the elements that make for a splendid mall: restaurants, clothing, jewelry, perfumes.
Address: 34 Le Duan, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Nowzone Fashion Mall
A “hidden gem” as it does not seem to be well-known among foreigners is Nowzone Fashion Mall.
Situated in District 1, it is a large mall with a slew of global brands such as Nike and Crocs and local and Asian brands.
It has five floors and consists of a cinema on the fifth florr that shows both foreign and Vietnamese movies. On the fourth floor are a food market and an arcade.
For a place not really meant for foreigners, all the signs are in both English and Vietnamese.
Nowzone has its own wifi, and the connection is best on the fourth floor. Nowzone is the place to go to if you want to check out Asian fashion brands.
Address: 235 Nguyen Van Cu, District 1 // Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. & Saturday to Sunday 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
An Dong Plaza
Roughly a 20-minute walk from Hung Vuong Plaza is An Dong Plaza, a shopping center which stands at the heart of the city’s Chinatown. Again, it is not a touristy place, and people tending to shop here are locals. The significant difference between the two places is the shopping experience.
An Dong Plaza is more of a local/traditional shopping center. It consists mainly of local businesses, but there are also international brands sold at significantly lower prices.
This is the place for you if you are looking for a traditional shopping experience and want to avoid tourist traps. Mind you, they might not speak as much English as the other more touristy places.
The malls in this list all offer parking spaces, but it is also convenient to reach there on a taxi or xe om.
Address: 18 An Duong Vuong, District 5 // Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.