Vietnam’s Rich Heritage: 5 Most Timeless Traditional Costumes in Vietnam

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

Traditional costumes in Vietnam have been blended with various cultures of ethnic groups and religions over time from past to present. It is a great chance for travelers to have a deeper understanding of Vietnamese traditions and history when visiting our country.

In our blog, we will introduce 5 traditional clothing in Vietnam with its typical designs, and history. This can help you compare and differentiate these costumes easily. Let’s start your discovery about Vietnamese cultural dress with us!

Ao Dai – One of The Most Timeless Traditional Costumes in Vietnam

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

Undoubtedly, Ao Dai is considered the most renowned traditional costume in Vietnam. Its original name was “Than”, first appearing in the 18th century, during the Nguyen Dynasty. At that time, Ao Dai was used for both men and women, with a loose-fitting top and wide-legged pants, which were all made of plain fabric.

Over time, Ao Dai has been influenced by Western culture, with distinctive versions of the wearers. The modern “Ao Dai” – the most common style, has a tight-fitting dress of two flaps, and long trousers, bringing the graceful beauty of the traditional dress of Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the Ao Dai is typically reserved for special occasions, unlike the daily wearing of Sari clothing in Indian culture. You can commonly spot women or men adorned in this attire during our national holidays or festivals. If you’re in Hoi An, Vietnam, renowned for its skilled tailors, you can have a stunning Ao Dai custom-made as a memorable keepsake.

  • Recommend the places to find: Van Phuc Silk Trade Village, Dong Xuan Market, Viet Bao QB Store, Luong Van Can Street, etc.
  • Price range: 18 – 42 USD

Non La  

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

Non La – Vietnamese conical palm-leaf hat, is one of the important parts of traditional Vietnamese outfits. This hat is considered a handy item, protecting locals from rain or sunny weather, especially farmers in the paddy fields. That’s also why visitors normally catch sight of Vietnamese people with Non La when traveling to the countryside or rural regions.

The Non La originated from the culture of growing wet rice in Vietnam, sticking to the appearance of the Goddess to protect the human living from a heavy deluge. As being told, she wore a giant conical hat against the raining showers from nature, saving the crop and the lives of locals miraculously. Thus, when the Goddess was gone, people built a temple to honor her and tried to create a similar hat, called the Non La known today. From that, this hat is integral to the farmers on the rivers, local streets, or especially in the rice fields.

In Vietnam, there are two Non La – creating famous lands, including the Non Bai Tho in Hue and the Chuong Village’s Non La.  Whether you experience or buy conical hats anywhere, they are made of natural materials like bamboo, palm leaves, and the bark of the Moc tree. It is a great and budget-friendly souvenir for your trip to Vietnam.

  • Recommend the places to find: Binh Tay Market, Dong Xuan Market, Chuong Village, Chuong My Village, etc.
  • Price range:  2 – 5 USD

Ao Tu Than

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

Ao Tu Than – Four-flapper dress is one of the longest historical age – traditional costumes in Vietnam. It is solely designed for women and used to be worn on a daily basis in the past. Up to now, the origin of Ao Tu Than is still a secret, with unclear proofs relating to the Trong Dong culture in the Northern region of Vietnam.

Ao Tu Than includes 3 main parts: a long skirt from the waist; the “yem” – an undergarment to cover the woman’s chest area; and a flowing tunic. In the past, this cloth was dyed with various natural colors, such as mud, dye-yam, tropical almond leaves, and so forth. Nowadays, Ao Tu Than is no longer popular, thus, you can occasionally catch sight of this dress at giant festivals in the North.

  • Recommend the places to buy: Dong Xuan Market, Ben Thanh Market, Madam Duong Tailor Shop, etc.
  • Price range: 8 – 60 USD

Ao Ba Ba

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

When visiting the Mekong Delta region, you can see locals wearing their own clothing, called Ao Ba Ba (The Shirt of  Madam Ba). It is one of the most well-known traditional costumes in Vietnam, particularly in the southwestern countryside.

The Ao Ba Ba is a collarless shirt, with 2 main parts: back and front flaps. While the back part is made from a full straight piece of cloth; the front part is divided into pieces, with the decoration of the buttons in the middle. You can see this garment in a combination of colors and materials, depending on the wearers’ interests.

Nowadays, the Ao Ba Ba still keeps the basic design of the past, however, it has been narrowly stitched to embrace the body, bringing an impressive style to women. You can also easily see Ao Ba Ba with a special scarf, namely a bandana. This item can be covered in brown and white or black and white colors, emphasizing the casual style for the wearer.

  • Recommend the places to buy: Cai Rang Market, Dong Xuan Market, Ben Thanh Market, Thuy Tailor Shop, etc.
  • Price range: 4 – 35 USD

Traditional Costumes of Ethnic Groups 

The national dress of Vietnam can vary over distinctive ethnic groups, depending on their characteristics and lifestyles. Below are our reviews of traditional costumes in Vietnam of some outstanding ethnic minorities. In particular:

H’Mong ethnic group

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

The H’Mong people live in Western and Northern highlands, such as Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Son La, and Lai Chau. With this tribe, locals are divided into subgroups, which are differentiated by their dress color, including Flower, White, Red, Black, and Blue H’Mong.

Owning special traditional costumes in Vietnam, H’Mong’s clothing is preferred to be vibrant and sophisticated, made of linen with various embroidered motifs. A perfect outfit includes a deep V-chest shirt, a big belt, two square pieces, a truncated cone-shaped skirt, and a headscarf. Additionally, the women often wear plenty of accessories like silver earrings or rings to make their appearance distinctive.

Thai ethnic group

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

The Thai group resides in the Northwestern regions, such as Hoa Binh, Lai Chau, Son La, and Dien Bien. When you visit these lands, you will be surely impressed by the simple and elegant beauty of Thai traditional cloth. Additionally, you can easily realize whether the woman is married or not through her outfit. While an even number of buttons on the blouse express the Thai girl, married women dress up with an odd number of buttons.

A traditional outfit of the Thai tribe consists of a black long skirt, a close-fitting blouse, and a cloth belt, which are in the covering of pink, green, white, and black colors. Visitors can also wear the outfit with a brocade headscarf, called “Khan Pieu” and some silver jewelry items. All of them bring visitors an impressive experience of Thai culture.

Cham ethnic group

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

The Cham inhabit the coast of the center of Vietnam, owning one of the most colorful traditional costumes in Vietnam. While men normally wear clothing like Kinh people, women wear a brilliant skirt, together with a short shirt – namely “tah” shirt. The design of the “tah” shirt has a similar form to “Ao Ba Ba”, however having 2 large pockets in the front and narrow sleeves.

The Cham women tend to wear charming long dresses on special occasions, like the Kate New Year festival, weddings, and the Ramuwan festivals. In addition, they always wear headscarves to honor the traditional cultures from the past, expressing reticence when approaching strange people.

Tay ethnic group

Traditional costumes in Vietnam

The Tay mainly live in the Da Bac district, owning unique traditional costumes in Vietnam for both men and women. While men normally wear long-down skirts to the waist, sashes, and headscarves; women prefer more sophisticated clothing with 3 types of skirts (short-sleeved, short-sleeved tops, and long-sleeved shirts). To make their outfits more outstanding, they also wear additional accessories like other ethnic groups, including earrings, necklaces, and silver rings.

  • Recommended places to buy: Local and night markets in the highlands; Dong Xuan Market, Ben Thanh Market, etc.
  • Price range: 35 – 60 USD

Conclusion

Our blog has reviewed 5 top kinds of traditional costumes in Vietnam. These national clothes express our country’s unique dressing style and culture of Vietnam. It is also a special attraction for any travelers coming to our country.

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