A cliche yes, but a nice ornament to spruce up any tired hostel room, the conical hat is well worth a flutter. Made from woven bamboo, this traditional headgear is surprisingly durable, makes for a great souvenir and is cheap to boot. Get one from Hue and you’ll get a poem inside. It won’t add too much weight to your backpacking baggage either. If you’ve ever watched Apocalypse Now, Platoon or Full Metal Jacket, you’ll have seen those giant zippo lighters that are central to the characters effortlessly cool looks. Although reproduced, and not original, the philosophical engravings on these babies make them more artistic than your regular zippo. A guaranteed conversation point for anyone who asks you for a light.
Aside from rice, Vietnam is also world famous for its craft industry revolving around tailoring. Hoi An, the UNESCO heritage town located in central Vietnam, is home to hundreds of tailors and is the perfect place to get a custom fitted suit that adheres to Western standards but at a fraction of the cost. Get measured, choose the fabrics and rifle through a catalogue for styles. The best bit? You can get them mailed home meaning you won’t need to carry them around with you while backpacking.
Wallets or Purses won’t be hard to find a wallet or purse while travelling around Vietnam with most markets full to the brim with them. But for all the Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Prada copies, the hand-woven ones are the best value for money. Unlikely to fall apart within weeks of use, hand woven wallets come in a range of sizes and patterns. If they haven’t caught your eye yet, just wait, they will. Vietnam’s most popular sights are teeming shops selling bottles of Vietnam’s signature drink, snake wine. Reputed to be good for virility and good luck, this foul tasting, but highly potent drink, is likely to make you the talking point of any hostel outside Vietnam. A backpacking treasure if ever there was one.