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Vietnam Duty-Free Shopping Guide: Unmissable Deals During Transit


Ever found yourself with a long transit time in Vietnam, wondering how to make the most of it? Rather than seeing it as a mere inconvenience, view it as an opportunity to explore Vietnam’s attractive duty-free shopping options. This article highlights the delights of duty-free shopping in Vietnam and how utilizing day-use hotels can make your transit more enjoyable. Read on to ensure your next visit to Vietnam is filled with excitement and savvy shopping experiences.

How to Enjoy Duty-Free Shopping in Vietnam

Vietnam’s duty-free shops offer a wide range of products, from international brands to local specialties. At the airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you can find high-quality items at surprisingly affordable prices. Moreover, by making good use of the VAT refund system, your shopping can become even more economical.

VAT, or Value Added Tax, is a tax levied on most goods and services purchased by consumers, added to the product’s value.

Utilizing the VAT Refund System

Visitors to Vietnam can get a refund of 85% of the VAT on goods purchased at duty-free shops (the remaining 15% covers administrative fees). To take advantage of this system, you need to obtain a VAT refund declaration form at the time of purchase and complete the refund process at customs upon departure. Note that the goods must be unused and taken out of the country to qualify for a refund.

The process to receive a VAT exemption in Vietnam is designed for foreign tourists and applies to new goods purchased at eligible duty-free shops. Follow these steps:

Purchase and Document Preparation: Buy goods at eligible duty-free shops and obtain the receipt and tax-free form. Your purchase must be within 30 days before departure.

Airport Procedures: Submit the necessary documents along with the purchased goods at the duty-free claim counter inside the international airport. The goods may be inspected to ensure they are unused.

Refund Receipt: Once the process is complete, the VAT is refunded either in cash or credited back to your card. This process must be completed on the day of departure.

For an efficient process, arrive at the airport early and keep your documents organized. Since the duty-free system details may change, it’s crucial to check the latest information before visiting Vietnam. This preparation ensures a smooth duty-free procedure, allowing you to enjoy shopping in Vietnam fully.

Recommeed Duty-Free Items

Duty-free shops typically display clear signage or logos indicating “Tax-Free” or “VAT Refund.” Highly recommended items include quality alcohol, international brand perfumes and cosmetics, and Vietnamese specialty coffee beans. These guaranteed quality items make great souvenirs.

Other popular duty-free items include:

Crafts and Traditional Handicrafts: Vietnamese crafts, known for their beauty and cultural value, include lacquerware, bamboo products, ceramics, handwoven textiles (like silk), and the traditional Ao Dai.

Jewelry and Gems: Vietnam is also ideal for purchasing jewelry, especially handmade pieces using locally mined gems.

Coffee and Tea: As a major coffee producer, Vietnam is renowned for its high-quality beans and unique flavors, along with locally produced green teas and herbal teas.

Spices and Condiments: To bring a taste of Vietnamese cuisine home, consider buying local spices and condiments like lemongrass, cayenne pepper, and Vietnamese fish sauce (Nuoc Mam).

Traditional Paintings: Traditional Vietnamese paintings, such as watercolors and silk paintings depicting Vietnam’s landscapes and daily life, are also popular duty-free items.

Be sure to check these out at duty-free stores and follow the appropriate procedures to enjoy tax benefits on these purchases.


Transit time in Vietnam isn’t just for waiting; it’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy duty-free shopping or relax in a day-use hotel. Use the tips in this article to make your next visit to Vietnam more enjoyable and comfortable. With smart shopping and restful breaks, you can rejuvenate from your travels and create beautiful memories.

For those transiting through Ho Chi Minh, consider a day-use hotel to match your plans:

How to Use Day-Use Hotels

Day-Use Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City

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