It didn't take Hanoi long to jettison the drab, no-choice shopping options of state-owned stores for full-on retail therapy. High-end European designer labels are available in five-star hotel boutiques, but the real fun is to be had in Hoan Kiem District, particularly the Church Street boutiques, and the small shops in the Old Quarter's warren of alleys.
Hanoi is an excellent place to purchase lacquerware and other home-decor items, such as handmade lanterns, pillows, and place mats. Bespoke clothing is also a bargain, as are fashion accessories like one-of-a-kind hats and handbags made by local artisans.
Most of Vietnam's leading painters attended Hanoi University of Fine Arts, and the city is aswarm with art galleries, especially along Hang Bong Street. The best shops will also arrange for packing and international shipping.
The top-end stores hold to sticker price, but you may get a discount for buying in bulk. And haggling for a bargain is considered an art form at smaller shops.