Hoi An is this little precious town which was initially a fishers village and now has become a full tourist attraction. It survived the war fairly well, and now it’s regarded as a lovely destination for tourists. Part of it is the small size and traditional atmosphere you see here (French style). And mainly, too, because it has around 450 tailors who will make suits and other clothing items for you in a matter of days.
Here’s the deal, you go to one of these tailors where you can choose a suit from their extensive list of models and get it done in two days. Not only that, you can show them a photograph of a clothing item you like (or bring an old one) and they’ll copy it within days. And cheaply. And when I say a clothing item, I mean anything. You can bring your favourite Nike shoes and they’ll copy them, in different colours if you like!!!
Now, you can imagine, hordes of tourists who only come here to get stuff done and have it sent back home, spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars to have tailored-made suits and dresses, at a fraction of what you’d have to pay back at home. It’s not that every other tailor is this town is good, but you’d like to shop around and find someone who has a good reputation (search online) if you want to have the best outcome at the best price. So my advise is, if you are visiting Vietnam and happen to pass by Hoi An, do a bit of looking at home, for something you like, take a photo, copy it from a magazine and bring it with you to get it ‘copied‘ in Hoi An. Because you’ll want one of these. And it’s fun to try anyway! :-)
The city has an interesting atmosphere. Apart from the suit business, it’s full of small restaurants, most of them oriented to the tourists, where you can have really interesting and cheap (and good) food. Its colonial French style gives the houses an interesting and pretty look. This frenchness can be also appreciated in the food, finding normal coffee everywhere (Vietnamese coffee should have a post of its own) and baguettes with butter and jam for breakfast.
The other thing that catches your attention is the number of shops selling lamps, very colourful lamps that you can buy for nothing, and they make a good present.
If you end up buying some stuff, don’t carry it with you, go to the post office and have it sent home, via airmail. I’ve used the Vietnamese post service a few times and have found it to be very reliable. You just show up with your stuff, they’ll put it in a package, wrap it up and fill in most of the forms you have to use. Very convenient.
And then, there’s the people of Hoi An, young and old:
When are you coming? :-)