There is no more iconic souvenir than the Vietnamese non la, or 'leaf hat'. Even as Saigon climbs the rungs of modernity, the humble leaf hat can still be seen atop many a head around HCMC. This distinctive lid has become a national symbol representing the hard-working spirit of Vietnam and its people. The conical hat is fashioned out of bamboo, coconut leaves or palm leaf and leaves are hand-stitched into the bamboo frame. Non la can be found in most markets around Ho Chi Minh City.
Expect to pay under VND50,000 for a non la. You can find leaf hats at local Saigon markets and all big shopping plazas and tourist markets. It is said that even today each non la is created by hand. Created out of necessity given Vietnam's tropical climate, the non la has but one important mandate: to protect its wearer from heat and rain. It is unclear when exactly the non la made its appearance into Vietnamese culture, but recent evidence suggests it has been around for at least 2,000 years.