Shop till you drop
What we say:
While many are attracted to Hoi An by the graceful pastel-coloured buildings, others are lured by an abundance of shopping.
First and foremost, this is the place to come for tailored clothes at dirt-cheap prices, at least by Western standards.
There is an absolutely ridiculous number of shops scattered throughout town, with most of them concentrated in the area between Hai Ba Trung, Phan Chu Trinh, Hoang Dieu and the riverside. Competition keeps the prices down, but also means that tourists are subjected to the constant badgering of touts and salespeople — after a few days of this, you may be ready to flee. A ban on any new shops opening was enacted a few years back, but they closed the barn door after the cows had already fled.
You'll want to know which of the myriad cobblers and cutters is the best, but the truth is, excellent quality is provided by many, many places. We find a good rule of thumb is to visit a lot of shops before buying, and go with your gut. If they are trying to rush you and give you the hard sell, smile and move on. In among the mercenary merchants are plenty of decent folks who take pride in their work — it isn't so hard to sort them out. The biggest mistake is to get overwhelmed by the limitless choices and go hog-wild at one shop on the first day. Try getting a shirt made at one shop, a skirt at another, some pants at a third. Most will have the piece ready for trying on by the end of the day, which will give you a chance to assess the quality of work and integrity of the staff before you commit to being fitted for a whole new wardrobe.
In addition to the clothes, Hoi An is truly a goldmine for unique handmade pottery, jewellery, statuary, furniture, quilts, embroidered sheets — the list goes on and on. Most places will arrange international shipping for you so you don't have to lug all that stuff around until the end of your trip, or go to the post office, which is used to tourists turning up with packages. As with the tailors, there are so many shops it's hard to recommend the best.
We'd suggest holding off spending all your money until you've seen at least two places: Hoa Nhap Handicrafts, which employs a staff of disabled craftspeople that does some truly excellent and unique work, and the Handicrafts Shop. There, too, we found an incredible variety and countless one-of-a-kind items at prices that seemed pretty darn reasonable to us, even before bargaining.
Reaching Out (Hoa Nhap) Handicrafts: 103 Nguyen Thai Hoc (next to Tan Ky House), Hoi An. T: (0510) 391 0168, 386 2460 http://www.reachingoutvietnam.com
Handicrafts Workshop: 9 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An.
Read 2 opinions from Travelfish readers
Plan enough time
9th October, 2011
Maybe it's better to order one piece by one piece at different places. I got two tailor made dresses that way, with a very good result.
As for the shoes: I needed some sneakers, told her these are the shoes I need, and ended up ordering 2 more pairs of sandals. After a little bit of bargaining the lady told me the cut in the cost was only on the sneakers, I tought it was funny as I was ordering a set of 3 pairs and said all right. She told me it would be ready the following morning 10:30, I had to leave at the begining of the afternoon.
The next morning I walk in front of her shop at 10, tell her if it's not ready yet I come back later, she said yes. Turns out she was going to bring the order to the shoe maker exactly at that momment (she was on her scooter). Was it carelessness or calculated I will never know, but I didn't got my sneakers in the end,but got the other shoes (with a little discount since I explained I was not really glad). Quality is all right, and my mistake was to order something the day before my departure, and maybe I would have ordered only the sneakers I would have them.
Shopping reviewed by teeterouge (1)
Written on 9th October, 2011, rated Visited here in October, 2011
18th September, 2011
Warning- Hoi An is awesome!!! I was only going to spend 2 days there but stayed for almost a week. It's so quaint and atmospheric, and the shopping is great! The silks, the bags, the art, - so many shiny, pretty things at very reasonable prices.
Of course everyone had clothes made, Hoi An is famous for it- but a word of caution- the women I met had almost all had bad experiences with their dresses. Depending on where you go, it seems not all tailors are very good at making dresses. They are very good with suits and jackets though, so men's clothing shouldn't be a problem. The shoes were of varying standards. Also allow for extra time, if the tailor tells you your clothes will be ready tomorrow, it probably won't be, or will need several fittings.
Side-note: if you want to walk across the Japanese covered bridge to get to the avenue beyond to see the galleries and the shops, you have to pay about 90 000D... However while strolling aimlessly around Hoi An, I unwittingly wandered around the block, entering the street from the far end, and didn't have to pay!
Shopping reviewed by shango266 (2)
Written on 18th September, 2011, rated Visited here in September, 2011
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