Try the moving companies.
Asian Tigers Transpo International
T: (04) 768 5882
75 Trang Thi, 3rd & 4th floors
T: (04) 936 6741-4
M: 84 903 450 901
49 Hai Ba Trung, 13th floor
T: (04) 934 3957
JVK Indochina Movers Vietnam
18 Yen Phu
T: (04) 826 0334
Royal International Movers
83A Ly Thuong Kiet
T: (04) 942 5999
30 Phan Chu Trinh
T: (04) 943 0610
Santa Fe Relocation Services
Horison Hotel, 3rd floor
40 Cat Linh
T: (04) 736 6843
I went to the big camera store at the HKL junction, and they're sold out. I also tried a camera store near the Water Puppet Theater, and at least four or five shops on the south side of Hoan Kiem lake. No dice.
One of the shop owners sent me to a camera street named Pho Vong Duc. It's a tiny little road off Hang Bai, between Ly Thuong Kiet and Tran Hung Dao. There were a couple nice camera shops, one of which had "dry safe" humidity-proof containers, but NO silica gel.
The owner of a camera shop then sent me to HANG HOM street, which is just north of Hang Gai street near the northwest corner of Hoan Kiem lake. Go past all the hotels and tourist shops, and you'll come to a section of road with at least a dozen paint shops. Most of them stock silica gel in bulk.
I couldn't find any of the convenient packs for a camera bag or dresser drawer, but you can buy a large sack and then make your own packets with some cloth and rubber bands. (It can severely irritate the skin and eyes, so be careful.) I paid 50k dong for about a kilo of silica gel beads, which could be fair or not. After this goddamned wild goose chase I'd been on, I didn't feel like shopping around or bargaining.
The Vietnamese translation is "hat chong am".
As stated earlier, I visited 10-12 camera shops, four of which were "big", and none of them had any bags of silica.
Until someone posts a business name and address here with a guaranteed huge stock of silica gel packs, I'd save yourself two hours and head to a paint shop on Hang Hom street. Ask for "hat chong am".
Silica gel is not only good for cameras, but closets, drawers, and shoes as well. Nothing can ruin your day like pulling out a clean shirt with mold spots.
Recently, I bought a pack of Japanese backs for holding stock spices, basically empty bouquet garni bags that are 11x10.5 cm in size, and 45 bags to a packet. d45,000.00 per pack.
Most of the labeling is in Japanese.
In English it Says, "Stock Pack."
In French, "Sachet-Filtre pour Faire un Bouillon."
In Vietnamese, "Tui Loc Da Nang."
I use it to make one off coffee bags or tea bags with loose tea leaves.
Each bag has a fold over hem that keeps most things in, even in a vigorous boil. As such these bags might be useful to you for making up silica gel packs.
First post; partly to say thanks for advice and secondly to confirm info.
Went into first paint shop I came to on Hang Hom (receipt says numbers 34 and 27 - not sure which I was at) yesterday. 70,000VND/kilo for bulk buying "bagettes" of silica gel, 30,000VND/kilo for loose silica gel.
(Also got very high from the amount of solvent in the atmosphere there, but that's another story...)
Will provide address if needed
I just went to 61B Hang Quat, a paint shop just around the corner from Hang Hom. Showed the little old lady there the name in Vietnamese (Hạt chống ẩm) and she gave me a kilo of prepacked little sachets, like you find in shoe boxes, for 80 thousand. Easy as, but make sure you take the name written down in Vietnamese, it was much easier. I would imagine pretty much any store around there could help you, but I was pleased to find the sachets at this one rather than the bulk 'pack yourself' stuff.
Thanks for the info about 61B Hang Quat. I got a supply there about 2 months ago, a kilo of pre-packed sachets, for 70,000. Last week a kilo cost a mere 60,000. Though this may be influenced by the fact that both times a Vietnamese colleague went there for me, with the help of the info kindly provided by suddenpaws.
Hi there! I'm new to Hanoi and just went through the silica process!
Turns out you need a lot (a lot!) of silica to keep the mold at bay so I decided to buy in bulk (25kg bags).
Then I went and got some really cool bamboo containers made - much better looking than having a pile of little sachets in your cupboard and environmentally friendly too!
I'm happy to help out anyone in a silica bind with something similar.
Just send me a message :)