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.
The three main cities to buy silk in Vietnam are
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.If you are looking for a silk T-shirt or custom-made suit, head over to Le Minh, store number 79-111 at Hang Gai street.
Hoi An is known as a tailoring mecca. The old town itself has around 400 tailor shops dotted along its alleyways. If you want to buy silk here, head over to The Cocoon Silk for a very educational and enjoyable shopping experience.
The owner is extremely knowledgeable and helpful here, teaching you all about the silkworms and processes. There is even a display where you can watch young live silkworms feed on mulberry leaves and older ones spin their cocoons.
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).