Inside the world of Hanoi galleries

Published:  15:00 Wednesday - July 13, 2016

If you want to bring some pieces of Hanoi art back home, here are some useful tips for you:

When it comes to darting in and out of galleries, restaurants and the many craft and silk shops in Hanoi's densely populated Old Quarter, walking is the best way to get around. Though the roar and density of the traffic are overpowering, it's easy to navigate the city with just a hotel map in hand. Even a simple stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, looking out onto the tranquil Ngoc Son Temple, which floats like a jewel in the middle of a lake, provides a glimpse into local culture.


The first thing anyone tells you about Hanoi is that it is impossible to walk there — the traffic is insane, with traffic lights and stop signs practically nonexistent, and you take your life in your hands every time you cross the street. But still, nothing quite prepares you for the out-of-body experience of trying to wade into the rushing traffic, making sure to move at a steady pace, eyes fixed straight ahead, as you feel the whooshing of air in front of you, and the occasional brushing of an elbow against your back, as motorcyclists swerve around you without slowing down. No wonder most tourists try it once, and then spend the rest of their trip either in the back seat of a taxi or in the cramped quarters of a tuk-tuk. A 10-minute ride in a taxi or tuk-tuk will set you back only about 40,000 dong (a bit more than $2), though with a tuk-tuk, it is best to negotiate the price before the journey.


All galleries will ship art home for you, and there is no United States import duty on original works of art. There is a small customs fee for art leaving Vietnam, but that is included in the shipping price. A 100-square-centimeter painting, for example, would cost roughly $150 to ship to the United States and should arrive within five to seven days. A larger lacquer canvas could cost as much as $1,000 to ship. Beware that many of the lesser-quality “art shops” will try to convince you of a work's authenticity (forged copies works by popular artists are common) by giving you an “exclusive right certificate.” Such a document means nothing, as the art industry is not regulated by the government.


Nguyen Art Gallery

31 Van Mieu Street, Dong Da


14 Phan Huy Ich, Truc Bach


12 Truong Han Sieu, Hoan Kiem

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