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Take home a piece of edible Vietnam with these locally made chocolates by Aaron Joel Santos Take me there

Whether it’s a handmade beaded necklace, a dress from a local designer, or a woodblock print, there’s something special about bringing home a souvenir with a story after a long journey. Vietnam offers countless opportunities for travellers of all stripes to pick up the perfect gift or keepsake. The main metropolitan areas are a shopaholic’s paradise, with stores of all sorts and sizes. In both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, you’ll find the latest creations from international luxury labels displayed in contemporary shopping centres. Those with an eye for more eclectic finds won’t be disappointed either. Boutiques with ambiance to spare hawk everything from authentic antiques to traditionally printed textiles and handcrafted lacquerware, to cutting-edge looks from the country’s nascent fashion scene. Other cities such as Đà Nẵng, Nha Trang, Cần Thơ and Hué all showcase exceptional examples of craftsmanship at lively markets.

Shopping is hardly the only diversion here, however. Ho Chi Minh City’s vibrant, varied nightlife is the stuff of legends and more than enough incentive to stay awake into the wee hours. The city is currently in the midst of a craft beer boom, as microbreweries churn out flavourful, funky suds using everything from regional spices such as star anise and lemongrass, to toasted coconut and artisanal Vietnamese chocolate. An equal number of pioneers are shaking up innovative, locally inspired cocktails in sophisticated speakeasies.

The same boundless energy and creativity that fuel the nation’s nocturnal and design scenes have also given rise to a thriving contemporary art movement. For decades, Vietnamese artists have used visual mediums to champion social justice, provoke thought, and challenge the status quo. A growing number of galleries in the country’s major cities highlight both their works and those of other Southeast Asian artists.

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