Story and Photos by Lee Daley. Upscale shoppers will want to travel to Vietnam’s capital city with very little in their suitcases, leaving lots of room for the distinctive range of designer clothes, handicrafts, and local fashions they’ll find there. Hanoi has long been considered the artistic center of the country and, as a bonus, it serves as a gateway to the many ethnic minorities to the north who find a much-needed market for their unique wares through some of the city’s specialty boutiques.
While traveling from Hanoi to Saigon during the month of December, a time of warm and balmy weather, I felt completely immersed in the diverse cultures of Vietnam. On show everywhere, from art galleries to design centers, from colonial architecture to ancient wooden vessels plying the Mekong, from stunning cuisine, both Haute and humble, cultural diversity reigned.