Hanoi: Innovative souvenir to promote tourism

Hanoi's tourism sector has been designing and producing special gifts representing the specialities of each locality.


Hanoi will promote the production of souvenir gifts, which are seen as the symbol of every locality and craft village, to build up branding for its tourism service.

The three partners, including the municipal Department of Tourism, craft villages, and enterprises, have teamed up to produce such special gifts with new looks to attract visitors to learn more about Hanoians’ lifestyle and culture, and retain their stay here longer.

The special gift from Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi: A poem on dried almond leave. Photo: Hoa Lo Prison 

Dried almond leave, a gift of Hoa Lo Prison where was called “Hell of Earth”, is one of the first stirrings up the city’s production of special souvenirs for tourism service.

The gift is so special as it is printed with poems of revolutionaries who were jailed in Hoa Lo Prison during the war. The idea came from the historical stories related to almond trees here, which were not only “friends” of inmates but also a good fruit remedy for them to recover from sickness or diseases.

A meaningful gift for a loved one when returning from a tourist destination is the desire of many travelers, but it seems to be ignored by many tourism firms.

The dragonflies are made of bamboo by artisans from Thach Xa trade village in Thach That District, Hanoi. Photo: Chuon Chuon Thach Xa

Under these circumstances, several businesses have recently started to invest in gift and souvenir products.

“These gifts tell historical stories at Hoa Lo Prison so that they are very interesting for visitors who want to keep a small part of the place they visit and learn about, for themselves or for gifting their family and friends,” Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, Head of the Management Board of Hoa Lo Prison told The Hanoi Times.

“In addition, we also plan to enhance coordination with craft villages to create more new gift products with the unique marks of the relic site.”

Recently, the Temple of Literature has just organized a giftware design contest. It also has a plan to coordinate with craft villages to make new souvenirs in the coming time.

“Besides the traditional products of the craft villages, there will be other typical giftware of the Temple of Literature, such as items for students, fanning the studious spirit of the Vietnamese people,” Le Xuan Kieu, Director of the Center for Scientific and Culture and Activities under the Temple of Literature, told The Hanoi Times.

A scarf made by artisans from Van Phuc silk village, Ha Dong District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Dong Silk  

The great efforts

In order to improve the quality of gift items, contributing to building the capital’s tourism brand, Su said that the association has worked with the People’s Committee of Hoan Kiem District, the Hanoi Branch of the Vietnam Society of Travel Agents, and a number of relics on the idea of establishing an area to display handicraft products, souvenirs and gifts of Hanoi craft villages to promote the quintessence of the craft products and provide a more diverse and interesting experience for visitors.

Therefore, there is a need for closer coordination between craft villages, local authorities of the tourist sites, and travel businesses in creating unique gift designs that are imbued with the characteristics of the destinations and suit visitors’ preferences.

The Hanoi Department of Tourism and Hanoi People’s Committee also has a plan to organize the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival in 2021 when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. “Developing tourism in the capital in association with the activities of craft villages is the main task, including building gift products, contributing to promoting Hanoi’s tourism brand and attraction,” said the Director of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, Dang Huong Giang.

 The rattan bag of Phu Vinh bamboo and rattan-making village in Chuong My District, Hanoi. Photo: May tre dan Vuong Van

With more than 1,350 craft villages, Hanoi is a tourist center with a lot of potential for giftware development. Among them, many items from the traditional craft villages have been well-known for their unique and sophisticated features for a long time, such as Bat Trang ceramics (Gia Lam District); Van Phuc silk (Ha Dong District); bamboo and rattan ware of Phu Vinh (Chuong My District); Ha Thai lacquer (Thuong Tin District); Chuong conical hat (Thanh Oai District); Thach Xa bamboo dragonfly; Chang Son fan (Thach That District), among others.

Currently, there are only about 35 craft villages specializing in making gifts and souvenirs for tourists, according to the Association of Craft Villages, Ancient Villages and Cultural Villages under Hanoi Tourism Association. Many of them have regular foreign customers from Europe and some Asian countries such as Korea and Japan.

These craft villages have cooperated with Hanoi’s popular sites such as Temple of Literature, Hanoi Old Quarter Culture Exchange Center, Thang Long Imperial Citadel, among others, to sell their products at the premises of those places of interest. However, in the domestic market, these traditional gift items have not been competitive with industrial products that are widely available and sold everywhere.