In America, like many parts of the world, gone are the days of good old fashion shoe shining. “They simply don’t make shoes like they used,” replacing real leather with synthetic materials making it cheap to buy a new pair. Further, fancy automatic machines have replaced shoe shiners who waited patiently at train stations, airports, sidewalks, for anyone looking for shoes to be shined.


However, if you find yourself traveling to any of the major cities in Vietnam, you can rest assure that your shoes will be well polished. Shoe shining is a profession that has continued to persist in Vietnam while having gone extinct in many parts of the world. Shoe shiners are typically young men who scour the streets with their tool box looking for shoes to be shined. For these youth who don’t have the luxury to go to school, shoe shining is a profession that helps them make a living.


You can spot a shoe shiner by his small wooden box or bag and blue sandals. The latter is for you to wear as you wait for your shoes to be shined, which typically takes about 5-10 minutes. The best part is getting your shoe shine will only cost you between 10,000-20,000 Vietnamese dong, which is less than $1. It is very important to negotiate and agree upon a price beforehand as there has been some instances of foreigners being ripped off.

Shoe shiners also offer other services such as repairing or replacing the rubber sole at the bottom of your shoes. You can also purchase a scented sole for your shoes which acts as a shoe freshener. Finally, it would be wise not to get expensive shoes shined as the polish and equipment of the average shoe shiner is not of high quality.


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