Like clothing shops, while some bookstores in Vietnam are scattered along streets and even leave no trace down narrow alleys, other shops are close together on some streets so-called book streets such as Dinh Le Street, Trang Tien Street, Lang Street in Hanoi and Tran Huy Lieu Street in Ho Chi Minh City. Other shops are located in shopping centers and in areas surrounding schools, universities and research institutes.
Interestingly, pavements are the ideal places for unsettled bookshops to display their books spaciously and sell them with highest discount rates, ranging from 30% to 50% off the publisher’s recommended retail price.
In bookstores, you do not have to waste your time bargaining as books are sold at their retail prices and sometimes discounts are available for those who buy in large quantity or for frequent customers only. Yet, if you want to find English books or books in your languages, it could be harder than you expected. For normal bookshops, which do not state clearly in their signboards that they sell English-language books or information in their signboards is not in English also, your chance of grasping an English-language book is quite slim, except for books for English study.
Hanoi used to be regarded as the only capital city in Southeast Asia that could bring nightmares to bookworms as finding an English-language book in Hanoi is as difficult as crossing road in the city. Today, you are able to find your favorite English-language books if you try to spend time checking out one of following bookstores. They offer both new and secondhand books of contemporary fiction and nonfiction.
Xuhabasa Store, 32 Hai Ba Trung Str., Hanoi
Wandering around Dinh Le and Trang Tien Streets, you are more likely to find your desired English-language books than in other streets. Although there are still a few things for English-speaking readers to flip through along those streets, the solid selection of large-format, colorful books on art, design, architecture could be a redeeming feature of bookshops here. Besides, if you are fond of fiction books, those streets are right places for you.
For books, that albeit interesting, were published for a long time or have been on shelves for years, you only have to take about 2-3 $ out of your pocket to become their owners. It is such a bargain, right? Be patient and you could find your good companion on your journeys.
You also could find English-language magazines and newspapers in those streets. If you just want to read something without buying them, it is suggested to go to American Centre, 1 floor, 170 Ngoc Khanh Str., Hanoi to enjoy your time.
Ho Chi Minh City
There are two largest bookstore chains in Ho Chi Minh City: FAHASA and PNC (Phuong Nam Corp.) In the city center, it is easy to find a FAHASA bookstore. On Le Loi street, within walking distance from Ben Thanh Market, you can see Saigon FAHASA Bookstore on your left.
Nearby Saigon Bookstore is Nguyen Hue FAHASA Bookstore which is on Nguyen Hue Boulevard. At these bookstores, beside books, you can almost find everything you need, such as: paper clips, pens, notebooks, maps, etc. Price is fixed and labeled, therefore, there’s no need to bargain.
It is rather simple to shop at the bookstore. When entering a bookstore, pick up a basket and collect all you need then proceed to the check out which is often near the door. Most book shops are not equipped with an electronic system with which you can trace down the book you want but the good news is, most stores are easy to navigate and staffs are always ready to help you.
Saigon Bookstore, 60-62 Le Loi Street, District 1