Buying products in Vietnam can be very tricky and surprising. One general rule is : when the price is too good to be true, it often is.
For most mundane purchase needs, everything is often priced below 500,000 vnd which is roughly 20 euros.
Especially if you know how to order from e-commerce giants such as shopee.vn. If these goods will be enough for most cases, you have to understand that quality in Asia is very different from quality in Europe.
In Europe we are used to a minimum quality, safety and conformity thanks to regulation. For example toys cannot do harm children and will be tested to a minimum degree before being sold and shipped.
In Asia, most cheap product won’t last a year within a one year span and can break the same day or cause harm.
Clothing for example is very tricky in Vietnam, because of the weather and the proliferation of mushroom in certain season, it’s not uncommon to see clothes getting a lot of black mushrooms that will never disapear with the washing machine.
For this reason, I find it very hard to invest in designer clothes if you don’t own the proper Wardrobe closet to keep them safe.
Note that sizes are very different from Europe or USA. here XXL maybe a M for bigger body, especially if you are from america where it can even be a S or XS.
Also, here in Vietnam, there is no such thing as free return. Here you have to be very careful when you chose your size, otherwise you’ll have to ship the product back at your own cost and to be honest charts are not that precise sometimes.
The quality of the clothes can also vary a lot from what is advertised. I’ve lately bought a dress for my wife which was supposed to cost over 1,200,000 vnd which is expensive by Vietnamese Standard and the quality was nothing like in the picture.
The fabric was completely different the one in the picture looks like thin linen and the real one feels like thin layer of polyester. The quality of the stiches were also miles apart, in the model picture the folds are perfectly ligned and no stiches are visible, whereas the real product have visible stiches that are not even straight and therefor the folds are completely unbalanced. The circle surrounding the beige main area are not even round in real life.
To sum i up it was basically a knock off of the version presented in the advertised picture.
Vietnam is obviously capable of manufacturing good quality clothes, it is actually one of the top country when it comes to clothes and shoes production. Unfortunately, it’s really up to the brand owner to deliver or not on this promise.
For the same reasons mentions for clothing, the weather can be very damaging for your electronics. People usually buy a dedicated cabinet which can control level of moisture.
Camera equipment should be store in this type of closet to be preserved from damage. It’s also important to let your equipement see the sun for the UVs to kill the germs. I’ve learn this lesson the hard way with my Leica which was standing in its own protective case in a shelf.
Beware, prices in Vietnam are not regulated by manufacturer. For example I’ve bought my Camera A7S III more money than what is advertised by Sony, simply because at the time stock were scarce with electronic shortage. If these kind of practice are forbidden in Europe, in Vietnam they seems to be allowed.
My spouse told me that warranty only works for expensive products, usually cheap rice cookers costing under 500,000 vnd even if advertised with warranty are not fixed, nor refund by the store.
Even if I already had almost all my electronic broken, including this electric barbecue within a year the wire inside burnt, I’ve haven’t got the chance to test this affirmation but you should beware of this too.
Toys and equipement for children
When you buy toys for your children in Vietnam you have to be very careful. Here regulation is not as strong so it’s easy to get dangerous toy for your children. For example a cheap rubiks cube that can break in many pieces and be swallowed by a kid.
Also the quality is not the same from europe, things can be broken so quickly. Everything has been calculated to be as cheap as possible as opposite as durable. So fabric are often very easy to break compared to european counterpart.
Since each market have different needs the producers have to adapt to the demand and in Vietnam for mainstream cheap product is is priority to cost.
Food and beauty product
Food can be sold by unofficial stores and could be perempt, not properly stocked or even tempered with. We highly suggest you to buy from official seller for peace of mind.
Street of small restaurant food is a big thing in Vietnam, most seller are family living in the upper floor of the stores.
Most people sell somekind of food, if 99% of the time the food will be fine since Vietnamese know well how to avoid being food contaminated, sometimes it still can happen.
My wife and I had the terrible experience buying red sticky rice in our street. We were sick for days and even threw up multiple times. The weather is so hot in Asia that bacteria can proliferate within some hours.
At the end there are some product you can only buy from trusted sources, one of the most crazy rumors around is about used condoms beeing clean and resell, which sounds almost like a hoax to be honest.
In Vietnam products are cheap for many reasons. First purchasing power is low compared to western countries, so product have to be cheap to find many buyers. The quality is directly impacted by this trend, product will often work for a year before needing to be replaced.
Also the weather makes it hard for product to last, electronics but also clothes which can easily get stained with mold if not stored properly.
The result of all these effects are that good quality product are often imported from other countries and last longer but are also very expensive compared to local products.
People tend to own and focus less on expensive materials and favors buying a lot of cheap products instead. Afterall the pleasure is half the purchasing process.
Perhaps the only brand product that are bought by most of the population are the product that are expected to last such as a Scooter (Bike), a phone, a fridge, a TV, etc.
Only the upperclass can afford designer clothes and expensive but non essential product anyway.