With a rich history deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture, the production of Vietnamese silk has been a traditional craft passed down through generations. In this article, we will delve into the world of silk in Vietnam, exploring its origins and why it has become a must-have souvenir for those who are planning a Vietnam travel adventure.
1. An overview of Vietnamese silk
For centuries, silk has played a pivotal role in Vietnam’s industry. Here is an overview of Vietnamese silk, a symbol of luxury and elegance in Vietnamese society.
1.1. A brief history and significance of silk in Vietnam
Silk is believed to have originated in China 3,000 years ago. Legend has it that a Chinese empress discovered silk when she stumbled upon silkworms in a mulberry tree. She then ingeniously created fabric out of the cocoons made by these silkworms, giving birth to silk.
Today, modern society offers a wide variety of silk products, but traditional silk villages in Vietnam still hold the “soul” of this fabric. When seeking tranquility and ancient traditions, visit the famous silk villages in Vietnam, where the beauty of Vietnamese silk can be seen.
1.2. Traditional Vietnamese silk making techniques
Have you ever wondered about the fascinating process behind the creation of Vietnamese silk fabric? Let’s explore the traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations.
- Sericulture: Silkworm eggs hatch after 10 days and are raised in small trays. The farmers feed them fresh mulberry leaves, which are chopped into small pieces. Silkworms eat continuously and grow to maximum size in 5-6 weeks. They are then placed in trays, where they build silk cocoons in 7 days.
- Silk reeling: The farmers quickly reel silk from the cocoons before the pupa transforms into a moth. The cocoons are dipped in boiling water to soften the outer silk layer, and 10 strands of silk are merged. The raw silk is then basked in the sun.
- Silk weaving: Silk fibers are divided based on quality and thickness, allowing weavers to create a variety of silk cloths with different characteristics.
2. Which are popular types of Vietnamese silk? How much does real silk cost?
Silk is a luxurious and absorbent fabric commonly used in fashion and home decor. It is also a popular choice for souvenirs, such as silk handicrafts and beautiful Vietnamese silk paintings.
Vietnam silk price depends on the brand and level of decoration, ranging from 400,000 to 2,500,000 VND ($17.25 – $107.8). Be cautious of cheap items, as they may be made from fake silk and lack quality.
3. Top 5 famous and long-standing Vietnamese silk villages
If you are a lover of textiles and want to explore the fascinating world of silk, here are the top 5 famous and long-standing Vietnamese silk villages that you must visit.
3.1. Van Phuc Silk Village
With a history dating back centuries, Van Phuc Silk Village used to supply silk for royal families and high-ranking officials. Boasting an impressive output of over 2 million meters per year and home to more than 150 shops, this village provides a unique Vietnamese fabric texture with soft and vibrant patterns.
3.2. Duy Xuyen Silk Village
Located in Quang Nam Province, Duy Duyen Silk Village boasts a rich history of over 300 years. Distinguished by the expert craftsmanship of the local people, the Vietnamese silk art in this village exudes exceptional softness, representing the culture of the Cham community.
3.3. Tan Chau Silk Village
Tan Chau Silk Village in An Giang Province is known for its black and shiny silk, dyed with the colors of fruits. It is famous for its softness, toughness, durability, and high hygroscopicity.
In the past, Tan Chau silk was an expensive commodity. Today, Tan Chau silk is a proud Vietnamese product with unique designs created to meet various customer demands.
3.4. Nha Xa Silk Village
Since the 18th century, Saigon merchants had been flocking to Nha Xa Village to buy this soft, smooth, and durable Vietnamese silk fabric, ranked second only to Van Phuc silk. Despite its ups and downs, the village continues to preserve and develop its traditional silk weaving techniques.
3.5. Ma Chau Silk Village
Known for its mulberry farming and silkworm raising from the 16th century, Ma Chau silk village was renowned for supplying Vietnamese silk to the royals and nobles. Today, there are approximately 300 households engaged in weaving in Ma Chau. Despite facing challenges such as fluctuating silk prices, the village has managed to sustain its tradition.
4. Where to buy real silk in Vietnam on your trip?
Silk Vietnam souvenirs are a popular choice among travelers looking for unique and high-quality items to bring back home. Here are some of the best places to find authentic silk products during your visit:
4.1. Hanoi Old Quarter
On the edge of Hanoi Old Quarter lies Hang Gai Street, a haven for Vietnamese silk. This street is lined with small shops specializing in silk and embroidery, offering a wide selection of high-quality fabrics. A must-visit store on Hang Gai Street is Le Minh, which has been in operation since 1954, known for its exceptional tailoring at affordable prices.
If you are in Hanoi, don’t miss out on these other famous Vietnamese fabric stores:
- Thuy An Silk: No. 179, Hang Bong Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Ngoc Diep Silk: No. 9, Hang Hanh Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Silky Vietnam: No. 43, Hang Hom Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
- Vietnam silk house: No. 24, Dien Bien Phu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
4.2. Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An Ancient Town in Vietnam is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to buy Vietnamese silk. With around 400 tailor shops, Hoi An offers a wide range of silk products.
A highly recommended shop is Cocoon Silk, where you can experience an educational and enjoyable shopping trip. The knowledgeable owner will teach you about silkworms and the silk-making process.
For an authentic silk experience, head to Hoi An Cloth Market or Hoi An Silk Village, where local artisans weave Vietnamese silk into garments using ancient looms.
Plus, here are some other Vietnam silk shops not to miss out on in Hoi An:
- A Dong Silk: No. 40, Le Loi Street, Hoi An
- Yaly Couture: No. 47, Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An
- Be Be Tailor: No. 11, Hoang Dieu Street, Hoi An
4.3. Ho Chi Minh City
Contrary to popular belief, if you are looking to buy authentic Vietnamese silk at a reasonable price in Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Thanh Market is not the place to go. You run the risk of purchasing fake silk at exorbitant prices. There are better alternatives, such as the cloth market at Tan Binh or Tan Dinh, as well as Chinatown (Cho Lon).
If you want a hassle-free experience with guaranteed authentic silk, visit Toan Thinh Silk. They supply silk to customers and designers in Vietnam and abroad, exporting to various countries like Korea, Japan, and the U.S.
If you are looking for other popular Vietnam silk boutiques to visit, there are some great options below:
- Nhasilk: No. 149, De Tham Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
- Viet Thanh Silk: No. 129, Le Thanh Ton Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
5. Things to know before and after buying Vietnamese silk
When buying Vietnamese silk clothing, it is important to know how to distinguish between authentic silk and counterfeit fabrics. Here are some key points to consider:
- Texture: The smooth, soft, and cool texture of real silk gradually warms up when in contact with the skin.
- Luster: Real silk changes its shade under different brightnesses, while fake products appear stiff and maintain the same color.
- Size: Vietnamese silk is smaller in size compared to fake silk due to traditional manufacturing methods.
- Burning test: Burning silk produces a burnt hair smell and soot, while burning fake fabric creates lumps and emits a smell of burnt plastic or paper.
To preserve silk products, there are several steps that should be followed:
- Apply dry cleaning
- Use shampoo or bath soap for hand washing to prevent deformation.
- Avoid squeezing too hard after washing to prevent creasing.
- Do not use bleach on Vietnamese silk clothes.
- Avoid drying in direct sunlight to prevent brittleness and yellowing.
- Store silk products in cotton pillowcases instead of plastic bags to prevent tarnishing.
Vietnam is not just known for its traditional silk weaving, it also boasts numerous enchanting tourist spots that entice globetrotters from all corners of the world. From the stunning Phu Quoc Island, the historic town of Hoi An, the vibrant cities of Da Nang and Nha Trang to the breathtaking Ha Long Bay, Vietnam offers a diverse range of destinations that should definitely be on your bucket list.
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With its long and celebrated history, Vietnamese silk has become a symbol of craftsmanship and tradition. From clothing to home decor, the versatility of silk brings beauty and luxury to various aspects of life. Plan your trip to Vietnam today and explore the world of traditional Vietnamese silk!