May 30 2012
Shoes are among the most difficult thing I have managed to find during the fair amount of shopping I have done during my time in HCMC — those of us from the Western world have big feet, much bigger than your average local’s. If you’re on the lookout for a pair of shoes in Saigon, here are a few places you can go.
Your best bet for finding Western-sized shoes is not by going to the Crescent or the Vincom Centre and shopping in real stores — rarely will an authorised retail store carry anything over a size 42 in men or 38 in women (so if you’re a woman who is desperate for running shoes you can find bigger men’s styles).
Instead, head to one of the places I mentioned when covering shopping in Saigon: Ben Thanh Market or one of the Saigon Squares. Inside you will find the occasional stall completely dedicated to shoes and since they deal with large foreigners on a daily basis, they are more likely to carry larger shoe sizes. This is not to say you’ll have a huge collection to choose from but at least you will be able to find something. Expect prices to be quoted high, forcing you to bargain hard; at Ben Thanh a hard bargainer could easily save themselves 50 percent of the asking price, while at Saigon Square you may have to fight hard just to save 20,000 VND.
If you’re having trouble in the markets or you think the prices are too high, head to Luu Van Lang Street right next to the Ben Thanh Market. This street is sometimes referred to as shoe street, as dozens of shoe shops litter the short block. Like the markets, selection in larger sizes is limited but I think the prices are more on the fair side — however, the majority of the street’s shoes is limited to flats, sandals and Crocs. If you experience a broken strap on your journey, this is where I would head to find a replacement.
My final suggestion would be to browse some of the boutiques outside of the downtown area, specifically on Le Van Sy Street in District 3. Finding shoes here take more time as larger sizes are hit and miss, but the shoes here are definitely more unique. Plus, since bigger sizes aren’t flying off the shelves, they are willing to deal. If you’re worried about wasting time, they are upfront about the sizes they have. Simply ask the shopkeeper if they have your size and they will lead you to the few pairs that may fit. It has taken time, but I have found some awesome shoes this way.
Around Saigon, a few cobblers can set you up with custom-made shoes, however I’ll cover that in more detail in a later post.
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