What is silk?
Silk is a natural protein fiber produced from the silkworm’s cocoon, and some forms can be woven into textiles. It takes around 3,000 silkworms consuming 104 kilograms of mulberry leaves to produce two pounds (one kilogram) of silk; the process lasts over three days. The result is a material that is light weight, soft and very absorbent, making it an ideal fabric for warmer countries.
Silk was once considered extremely luxurious and thus available only to noble families. Now the fabric is widely used, and beautiful silk products are affordably to anyone. They make great souvenirs. It will cost you at least VND70,000 for a meter of silk and at least VND100,000 per meter for premium kinds.
Hoi An was once part of the legendary maritime silk road. It is truly a shopping paradise when it comes to silk shops. Whatever you want to draw, print or patterned silk; a wide variety of materials, colors and decorations certainly can satisfy your needs. Think about purchasing something made of silk for yourself or your family and friends back home. Silk scarves and ties are a great choice. The cocoon of silkworm is harvested and turned into individual fibers before it is woven into fabric. Scarves and ties made of silk are extremely soft and lustrous.
Ho Chi Minh City
Contrary to popular belief, Ben Thanh Market is where you should not go if you are looking to buy authentic silk for a reasonable price. Chances are that you will end up buying fake silk at outrageous prices. Granted some stores do offer the real thing, but the information you get is mixed, so it is best to stay away altogether. The cloth market at Tan Binh or Tan Dinh are better alternatives, as is Chinatown (Cho Lon).
Located on the edge of the Old Quarter of Hanoi is a silk haven that goes by the name of Hang Gai Street (or Silk Street). This is the go-to place for silk shopping, and this street has a handful of small shops that all specialize in silk and embroidery. You will find similar merchandise being sold in these stores, but at different prices, which may confuse you. Yet, due to the authenticity of what you are getting, it is still better than negotiating for silk at the market.