Vietnam arts

Exploring Vietnam arts

Collecting art may well be the last thing on your mind when you set of on Vietnam tours; but neglect this aspect of Vietnamese culture and you will be missing out. The country boasts a rich history of wonderful art, with diverse influences that range from Chinese culture to more contemporary Western inspirations.

Buyer beware
Antique Vietnamese art, even that dating from the recent Nguyen Dynasty, can be extremely expensive. In many cases, such as with Bronze Age art, acquiring these pieces can be prohibitively costly and even, in many cases, illegal. Cheap knockoffs can be found in many local markets, especially when it comes to wooden art and sculpture, which is easily reproduced. But the discerning art critic can get more for their money if their know where to look.

Vietnam arts, ceramics and souvenirs
While on Vietnam tours, travellers can come across some fine examples and reproductions of traditional art from around the country. In many cases, these are quality pieces that would sit elegantly in a home and also make for great, cheap souvenirs and gifts. If you're looking for something a little "showier", and indeed a bit pricier, try Dong Khoi Street in Ho Chi Minh for hand blown ceramic pieces, fine art and even furniture.

Prints and canvases
Hanoi is famous for the original artwork that can be purchased here, as well as quality reproductions, which you can pick up for less than $30 a piece. Prints are easier and lighter to ship home than sculptures. Many galleries will allow you to purchase the canvas alone, which can be more practical and easier to take home. However, make sure the canvas is wrapped carefully, especially if you purchase original watercolours, pastel or oil paintings that can easily flake or get damaged.

Galleries can usually deliver directly to your hotel, but some more upscale establishments may be able to ship directly to your home, saving you the cost and hassle of transport. The Old Quarter is often the best place to look for quirky pieces or modern art from talented contemporary Vietnamese artists.

The experts on Vietnam tours will tell you that not all art here is confined to ceramics, prints or canvases. The country is also rightly famous for its stunning textiles, many of which are still woven and stitched by hand. You can choose to bring home the raw fabric or commission a tailor to create something special from your selection. Keep in mind that prices can range from very cheap to couture expensive.

Lacquer ware and carvings
While on your Vietnam tours you will come across the traditional lacquer wear and handicrafts like stone carvings. These make for interesting pieces to grace your home or they can also make wonderful gifts. Hand-crafting is still much prized in the country and pieces range from rattan goods to high quality ceramics to wooden puppet carving.