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54 Traditions

Mark Rapoport, a former New York pediatrician, and his wife moved to Hanoi in the early 2000s and immediately started collecting the cultural antiques of the ethnic tribes. Their gallery, 54 Traditions, is now the only one in Vietnam devoted to the arts and crafts of the country’s fifty-four ethnic groups. Visiting their multi-storey shop, co-owned with Nguyen Thi Nhung, is like shopping in an Ali Baba’s cave of treasures, except that this one comes with an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate collector guide who will tell you the story and pedigree of each object and provide a detailed fact sheet to go with it. (He will also package, ship or mount your object and have it delivered to your hotel or the airport.) Many of their original finds are now in museums including the Metropolitan and American Museum of Natural History in New York, Musée Branly in Paris and the Ethnology Museum in Hanoi. Among their specialties: tribal textiles and costumes, Buddhist statues, tribal jewelry, power swords, ritual scrolls and ceramic boxes salvaged from shipwrecks that are more than 500 years old. Be sure to look out for the Chimera jewelry, which incorporates ancient beads. Prices range from under $25 to many thousands and pieces are marked with colored dots to indicate the ranges. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time here as Mark is true to his motto of offering “an education not just an object.”

Read Local Legends: Mark Rapoport

Merchandise at MU Accessories, Hanoi, Vietnam

MU Accessories

Behind the lilac colored façade on Nha Tho street is a jewel of an accessories shop. MU sells fun and inexpensive jewelry including wrap bracelets with gold beads and tiny rings with symbols.

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Tan My

This silk and embroidery shop carries lovely traditional silks and embroidery and since it was founded as a modest little shop by the mother of the present owner, it has spawned the much more sophisticated Tan My Design across the street.

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Tan My Design

If you visit only one boutique in Hanoi, it should be this one, which carries exquisite embroidery plus a well-edited assortment of decorative objects, jewelry, fashion and gifts. In the many decades since Tan My was founded as a modest little shop by the mother of the present owner, designer Do Thanh Huong, across the street, the empire has grown to occupy three bright floors in this most modern of shops in the Old Quarter. (There is even a café in the back on the ground floor, making it feel like a mini department store.) On the various light-filled floors, you can find beautiful lacquer boxes and modern takes on the traditional ao dai costumes in stunning silks and brocades. The housewares section features Vietnamese cottons and linens embroidered with images ranging from subtle flower blossoms and delicate feathers to bold dragons and Vietnamese landscapes, in a huge spectrum of colors. Don’t miss the upper floors with a selection of designs by the country’s cutting-edge fashion designers such as Lolo Zazar’s T-shirts, Bianco Levrin and Song.

Editors' Picks
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Three Trees

This fine jewelry shop, which also has an outpost in the Hilton Hanoi Hotel, has a distinct Vietnamese aesthetic. The owners are a Belgian/Vietnamese couple and the designs mix a delicacy (floral motifs and teeny weeny diamonds) with bold, chunky pieces and yet both are organic and alluring. In fact, Three Trees is considered to be one of the country’s first homegrown luxury jewelry talents. A Vietnamese Elsa Peretti if you will. The sleek gallery space features gold and diamond jewelry in the front rooms and silver and wood pieces in the back. Prices range from hundreds of dollars to under $50 for fun wooden bangles inlaid with stones or animal motifs.

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