Shopping in Halong Bay – Guidelines from A to Z

What & Where to Buy in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: December 17, 2019

One of the most fantastic and enjoyable parts of your trip is shopping, isn’t it? After spending several days in Halong and falling in love with its splendor, you definitely hope to get something to bring home, which may remind you of this amazingly spectacular bay with islets and caves. If you are wondering what to buy and where to shop at the most reasonable price in Halong Bay, check out this guide on shopping in Halong Bay, Vietnam below.

I. What to Buy in Halong Bay?

1. Squid

squid in Halong bay

You may be wondering “Nah, squids are on every sea, nothing special here”. Let me tell you, Halong sea water is saltier than others, so squids here are popular for their special flavors. The two most famous forms are dried squid (Mực một nắng)  and grilled chopped squid (Chả mực), which are assumed as must-buy things for Vietnamese people when being in Halong.

Dried squids are cleaned with sea water first, then dried under the sunlight, just for one super sunny day. They are pinky, half-dry, fragrant and crispy. It would be best to have them grilled or fried with vegetables. What a great dish it makes!

If you want something more unique of Halong, it would be grilled chopped squid. Not because the squids themselves are good, it’s also the dedication of the makers. The whole process including chopping, pounding, mixing with pepper and dill is made by hand, as a result, Ha Long Grilled Chopped Squid boasts its own flavor and tastes which cannot be mistaken with those from any other places. The price will be ranging from 330,000 VND – to 400,000 VND per kilogram. Buy it home, just deep- fry it and the breath-taking scenery and taste of Halong seem to display in front of you.

2. Dried Sipunculus Nudus

Dried Sipunculus Nudus - what to buy in Halong Bay

Sipunculus nudus, which is about 10-centimeter long, ivory-white and chubby,  is a kind of peanut worms living only in Halong. Despite their unattractive appearance, they are known to be extremely nutritious, fatty, aromatic and delicious when fried garlic spikes or roasted, together with a cup of cold beer. Sipunculus are rare, so their price is comparatively high, about 4 million ($170) per kilogram.

Be cautious if the price is unbelievably low, and the sipunculus look pale, transparent-white or crumbled, they must have been either kept for a long time or fake ones.

3. Hoanh Bo Soaked Rice Wine

Tourists drink Hoanh Bo soaked rice wine on cruises

If you are a fan of wine, Hoanh Bo Soaked Rice Wine in Halong Bay is the one you should never miss. Hoanh Bo is the name of the forest whose specific leaves are taken to add smell to cooked and incubated glutinous rice without being pounded before. After a long enough time being carefully soaked in a jar, it turns into alcohol. Hoanh Bo home-made rice wine tastes marginally sour and sweet blended with extraordinary odor. It’s light, but might get you tipsy if you drink too much. Don’t worry, instead of getting a headache, your digestion is unexpectedly stimulated.

4. Seashell Jewelry

Seashell Jewelry in Halong Bay

Besides seafood, what can take your heart away should possibly be seashell jewelry which look simple but absolutely unique. When cruising on Halong Bay, you might see female vendors on umiaks or coracles with all kinds of little lovely items from seashell such as bracelets, key chains or conch shapes. Halong area has an abundance of seashells, people just collect the most beautiful ones and use their creativity to make out these attractive nice accessories. The seashell with a variety of colors ranging from light orange to greenish and emerald, will be a great gift for your relatives and friends.

5. Handicraft Coal Statues

Handicraft Coal Statues

You might not know, Halong is located in Quang Ninh province, which is nationally famous for bountiful coal sources. Is it a great idea to buy something really Vietnamese, from material to appearance?

Handicraft coal statues  are made of Anthracite coal, one of the hardest and toughest form. The coal must be qualified and suitable in terms of sizes of the final products. After that, it is perforated and hewn. It looks a bit like on the wood or softer material, but designing coal is much harder to adjust because it is crunchy and tough. Only a minor mistake can make the craftmen try in vain. The last step would be making it looking not dirty and raw, instead, sparkling and valuable by applying a layer of transparent polish.

You can order the shape you want if you have enough time in Halong Bay. If not, the most popular ones definitely will not disappoint you. The most bought statues are Fighting Cock Isle, cranes, water buffaloes, eagles, Buddha statue, bronze drums  and ancient Vietnamese junk boats, which are typical symbols of Vietnam in general. They are sold at a cheap price compared to the special Vietnamese-symbolizing statues you will get.

II. Where to Shop in Halong?

1. Halong I & II Markets

Halong I Market
Photo: @nguyen.g.tu

1.1. Halong I Market

In terms of shopping, Halong I market is the first name to mention as it is among the biggest wholesale markets in Quang Ninh province and offers all kinds of things. This 16-year market impresses buyers by how clean it is and how logically and neatly the stalls are placed. The first floor displays spectacular souvenirs such as jewelry, handicrafts, toys, pottery, embroidery goods, house appliances, kitchenware and coal statues. The second floor is for clothing and seafood.

Seafood is sold at a reasonable price in a whole different outside section of the market. The most famous place is Thoan Cha Muc located at kiosk 36-37. Besides squid, there are newly caught fish, shrimps, sipunculus nudus and crabs also available and fresh. You can also get to culinary part of the market to fill your stomach up with the most common and traditional food of Halong such as horseshoe crab.

Buying from Halong I market  makes sure that you get the high-quality products, instead of buying from a random vendor on the street, especially for high-priced things like seafood. Despite being undoubtedly crowded at the weekend, it is absolutely worth 3 hours of your trip.

Address: Van Xuan Street, Bach Dang Ward, Halong

Opening hours: 2 a.m– 9:15 p.m every day

1.2. Halong II Market

This market is about 1km away from Ha Long I Market but easily accessible thanks to its location nearby the outside of the National Road 18. The goods are diversifying from seafood to sourvenirs, but the most prominent is seafood, especially dry seafood. Structured similarly to Ha Long I Market, but Ha Long 2 Market has 2 storeys only and the seafood selling area is not as large as the first one.

Editor’s Tip: You should buy dry seafood here because the quality is good and price is cheap.

Address: 433 Le Loi street, Tran Hung Dao ward, Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province

Opening hours: 8 a.m- 5 p.m

2. Hon Gai Market

Hon Gai market boasts a typical features of a fisherman village. It is located right by the sea where people on the fishing boats come back after a night of catching fish and carry them straight to the market’s dock on the foot of Bai Tho mountain. Therefore, it is said that nowhere offers fresher seafood and cheaper price than this market.

Editor’s Tip: It’s highly recommended to buy oysters, fish, squids and shrimps here if you want to cook right away before leaving.

Address: Hon Gai Street, Tran Hung Dao Ward, Halong

Opening hours: 7 a.m – 9 a.m every day

3. Halong Night Market

Ha Long Night Market
Photo: @iamvuanh

Night market is always a great place to go to after sunset because you not only can see how differently noisy and lively a city can be at night, but can walk and get yourself some souvenirs looking sparkling and beautiful. The market is located on attractive Bai Chay beach with hundreds of stalls in order, each of which is full of items widely ranged from ordinary to top-notch. You will be appealed by clamshell key chains, “I love Halong” T-shirts with Halong and “The Kissing Cocks of Halong Bay” magnets. What’s more, jewelry, handicrafts, bags and seafood are nice options before you head out for food stall and enjoy your supper. Coming here, you can dig into a variety of Halong specialty which becomes incredibly unforgettable in your trip.

Address: Halong Marine Boulevard, Hung Thang ward, Halong (near Bai Chay Beach)

Opening hours: 6 p.m – 11 p.m every day

4. Bai Chay Shopping Center

Bai Chay shopping center

If you are looking for somewhere that you can go shopping for high-end products, it must be Bai Chay Shopping center. Developed from a small local market on Vuon Dao street, it is enlarged and invested to become a modern commercial area which is the favorite place for thousands of shopaholics. You have an endless variety of choices for everything, from something common like clothes, house appliances, electronics and little souvenirs to high-end items like handbags, sports shoes and luxury clothes. It will be a pleasant experience to shop here.

Address: Vuon Dao Street, Bai Chay ward, Halong

Opening hours: 8 a.m – 10 p.m

5. Early Halong Seafood Market

Halong seafood market
Photo: @vickyvan97

The reason why this is called early Halong Seafoood Market is that it just takes places in the early morning only. The market is located right at Hon Gai harbor and specializes in newly-caught seafood by local fishermen. Not only is it the biggest seafood focal point of Ha Long city, but it is also a cultural feature of Ha Long fishermen.

Prior to the dawn, fishing boats rush to the port and present all types of seafood right at the anchor area.

Editor’s Tip: You should buy seafood like crabs, sentinels crabs, cuttlefish and Mantis shrimp, here since their prices are very reasonable.

Address: Hon Gai port, Tuan Chau island, Ha Long city, Quang Ninh province.
Opening hours: 2 a.m – 4 a.m

Shopping in Halong Bay is the last piece to complete your enjoyable and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nothing can be more wonderful than after an amazing time you spend here, you can buy something as a souvenir that will remind you of this glorious bay and some gifts unique and Vietnamese to give your family and friends. If you have already done it, why not comment below and share with others?

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