Hoi An Ancient City :: Shopping Guide

Made-to-measure shirts, blouses, dresses, suits etc. are on offer from the renowned tailors of Hoi An. When last counted in 2002, there were 140 shops in the city, and the number is now well over 400. It’s one of the few places in Vietnam where the motorbike taxi drivers look positively sedate by comparison. Be careful who you choose to manufacture your clothes. As a rule of thumb, give all tailors 2 days advance to prepare your garment and keep going back until you get your clothes right! Suits should cost between US$80 and up to US$250 for a good quality suit. If you choose to pay less, beware that you get what you pay for, slightly lousier quality of cloth and problems with workmanship, such as misaligned stripes on the pants and blazer. Shirts start at US$15 . Note that shirt collars tend to be made looser than at home and so don’t worry if you have to ask them to make alterations. Pay attention to button quality and button holes. Possibly ask for a few spares and double stitching. Skirts normally sell for around US$15. Dresses should cost around US$20 upwards. However, prices might change depending on design and detail.

Some tourists love the idea of going in to one of the tailors and making something from scratch. While this is possible, it is better to have something made from the samples that they already have or copy something that you have brought to the shop – makes life a lot easier. Some wiser tourists return with old favorites to get them cloned/remade anew. What also works well is print detailed pictures from designer sites. The rule here is the more detailed the description / picture, the better the end result will be.

Note that if you go to the larger, more renowned tailors such as Yaly and Adong, the prices are much steeper (a 2 piece suit costs between US$80-300 depending on material). The maximum discount that seemed possible (checked against three different stores) was 15%. Both places have good workmanship on simple items such as jackets. Tony’s tailor is a good value-for-money choice; high quality finishing and honest but relatively fixed prices. A suit should cost less than US$80. Another good alternative is Mr Xe, with well-made suits starting at US$50 and a great range of materials.

Business in Vietnam is based on payments of commissions for business – a wonderful example is the customs tailor shops in Hoi An! The going rate for anyone bringing in a customer is 20-40% of total retail price paid. As a starting point to bargain in Vietnam always offer at least 1/2 of the asking price – or better still start at 1/3rd and work your way upwards!

Since there are so many tailors to be found in Hoi An, it can seem difficult to find a good one.

Hoi An also has a good selection of Vietnamese art, both modern and traditional, serious and kitschy. Galleries can be found all over town but Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, on the other side of the Japanese Bridge, has the heaviest concentration.

  • Central Market, Bach Dang Street, (just before the Cam Nam Bridge) has all of the cheapster t-shirts and bog-standard souvenirs you’ve seen at every other stop in Vietnam, but it also has plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, seafood, and all of the other stuff they use in Hoi An’s terrific restaurants. T-shirts should cost around 40000 dong, and any amount of haggling will not reduce the prices beyond this level. There are shops selling backpacks, around US$20 for a 100L backpack. However, Hanoi has a wider but more expensive selection.
  • Thanh Ha Pottery Village – about 2km west of town, this traditional village has been making pottery for more than 450 years. It was on the verge of extinction until the wave of new hotel construction in Hoi An revived demand.
  • Kim Bong Carpentry Village – about 3km west of town.
  • Art Cafe 30 Nguyen Thai Hoc, based in Hoi An Old town. Sells locally handmade marble and is owned by a Swiss sculptor by the name of Eric. The whole concept of this enterprise is by breathing life into marble.
  • Lifestart Foundation Workshop, 77 Phan Chu Trinh, [21]. The non-profit Lifestart Foundation Workshop focuses on creating unique handmade arts/crafts to help support those living in challenging situations in and around Hoi An. Each item is individually made by members of the workshop and the entire proceeds from the sale of the products go directly to the workshop members to provide a sustainable income and sense of independence. It’s the perfect place to visit if you are looking for fairtrade gifts in Hoi An.
  • Randys Book Xchange (Book Store), Cam Nam Island (Over bridge to Cam Nam Island turn right on the first street), ☎ 0936089483, [22]. 8:00 to 7:00. the largest used book store in central Vietnam with over 10,000 novels. No copy books. under $10.
  • Lotus Jewellery, Two stores: 82 Tran Phu and 53A Le Loi, Hoi An (beside the Museum of Trade Ceramics), ☎ +84 510 3917 889,  08:00-22:00. Possibly the most beautiful Jewelery store in Vietnam! Hand made Sterling Silver Jewelery deliciously created using Red Coral, Freshwater Pearls, Mother-of-Pearl, Abalone, Onyx, Jade, Turquoise, Amethyst, Citrine, Blue Topaz and other delights. Using only pure silver and genuine Asian jewels, the collections are varied but mostly draw on ethnic or natural inspirations. The atmosphere at the shop is relaxed and inviting and the prices are also fixed making the customer experience all the more pleasant.