Woodcarving is a thriving craft in Ho Chi Minh City, from trinkets to wood figurines to burled furniture. Elaborately designed wooden items flaunted in Saigon's streetside shops will surely pique your interest. Choosing the type of wood is important: hardwoods are more difficult to shape but have greater longevity, while softer woods are easier to carve but more vulnerable. Vietnamese woodcarving often combines sculpting with the natural curvature of the tree.
From children's toys to rosewood boxes and bowls, figurines depicting buffalos, dragons, flowers and Buddhas, a hand carved piece purchased in Ho Chi Minh City makes a thoughtful gift. Many pieces such as headboards or dresser drawers have intricate deep relief carvings. Some woodcarvings depict legendary serpents and other creatures that symbolise wealth, health and other cherished Vietnamese values.