Ho Chi Minh City.
I wanted to give up. Battling against the raging sun at high noon and dodging what seemed to be the hundred thousandth scooter or motorbike was not worth the souvenirs, I told myself. Despite clutching a small map provided by the hotel staff and asking directions from two locals at different times we didn’t catch a shadow of Saigon Kitsch.
But I am a stationery hoarder. I have stickers from ten years ago still in my sticker book. Yes I have a sticker book, or rather sticker books. As much as I can I also collect postcards and notebooks from each country I visit. Googling for a cool and maybe hipster-ish stationery store before my trip to Ho Chi Minh I came upon the name Saigon Kitsch a few times and wrote it down as one of my must visit places for the short 3D2N stay trip I have with my friend.
Who thankfully still remained my friend despite the fact that I led us on a merry chase at downtown Ho Chi Minh seeing every single landmark that we planned on seeing for another day. We were tired, sweaty, hungry and reached a point where we went in random alleys looking out for the store sign. After passing a construction site for the nth time we wanted to head back to our hotel and were on the lookout for cab. But before we could hail a cab, a bright pink sign beckoned us like an oasis in the dessert. We made it!
We stepped into the blissfully air-conditioned room and were greeted by rows of knick knacks and stationery for days! There were mugs with cheeky Little Misses and Little Misters that were customized to showcase Ho Chi Minh (aka Saigon). But I was more interested in the propaganda art souvenirs and also pun-ny illustrations like “Phoever”. There were stickers, notebooks, mugs, coin purses, postcards, prints, keychains, tote bags and coasters which all very affordable and pretty
Going up the second floor, there were lamps, t-shirts with propaganda art, and home decor available as well. We forgot all about our tiredness and were in there for about an hour going up and down, thankful for the good exchange rate. It was like we fell down a kitsch-y rabbit hole and lightening our wallets. We were so happy with our purchases, we went back the next day (no getting lost this time) to buy more stuff!
Speaking of stuff, here are some of what I bought. I say “some” because I didn’t take a picture of all the souvenirs I bought. Let’s just say my family, friends and my whole department in the office including our interns were given something from Saigon Kitsch. This is what I kept for myself, a “Pho Ever” tote bag and coin purse and some stickers. I really like the illustration it’s just so cute and pun-ny.
I’m glad that I did not give up even though we were hopelessly lost in the labyrinthine streets of Ho Chi Minh’s District 1.
Saigon Kitsch Address: 43 Tôn Thất Thiệp, Bến Nghé, 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam