In Hoi An shopping can easily get out of control. Historically part of Silk Road, Hoi An offers plenty of souvenirs, silk products, local delicacies and tailored clothing.
The core shopping scene in Hoi An is in the midst of the beautiful well preserved buildings. Tailors make up the latest number of shops and Manequins displaying latest styles of suit and dresses are everywhere.
With so many similar shops, competition is so fierce, it has become a consumer market.
Here are our top 5 shopping tips:
Never believe a local too easily
Everybody in Hoi An will be very enthusiastic in recommending you something. This can be a tour guide, hotel receptionist or some stranger.
It is part of Vietnamese culture to get huge commissions for every sucessful referral. So when you hear some raving review by a local. It is not because the restaurant or tailor shop is good or that they care about you!
Take these recommendations with a pinch of salt. Spend some time to do research online. This way, you will increase your chances of getting better deals.
Always ask around for the best price
Many shops in Hoi An do not list prices. So when you intend to buy standard items like silk scarves or souvenirs, do check around for the best price.
Chances are many of these standard stuff are bought from the same wholesaler. You will be surprised at the difference in prices quoted.
When patronizing street food stalls, always ask for the price before buying any food. Not after you eat! Do be cautious and get a fair deal which brings us to the next point.
You pay for what you get
Rule of thumb in Vietnam: When an offer is too good to be true, it most probably is. Items like fabrics (i.e. silk) or even food (i.e. coffee) may be cheaper in Vietnam, but prices are not ridiculously low like what some foreigner think it is.
For tailor shops, it is easy to find a cheap suit or shirt. However, chances are the cheap suit is made from cheap material and outsourced to some sweatshop.
Using this example, buying a reasonably prices yet good quality suit is better than buying a dirt cheap suit you will never wear!
End of the day, compare value rather than comparing prices.
You do not always pay for what you get!
Contradictory? When you pay a high price, it does not always mean you are getting a great deal.
Hoi An shopping scene is fiercely competitive as many sell similar stuff. Hence, many shop-owners scrape for low margins. However, when they spot an unsuspecting customer, they are sharp enough to over-quote prices. This is how they pay rent!
There is a reason why many shops (including big ones) do not list prices!
Support ethical production!
Many shops (mainly tailor shops) rely on cheap outsourcing. All they do is pass fabrics to sweatshops
Many customers do not know it is the inside of the shirt and suit that largely determines the quality. Many tailor storefront know that and attract customers by charge low prices for tailored shirts and suits and then save on the “inside”. A good suit needs to be constructed with good fabrics, but natural horsehair canvas, bemberg lining and hesla shoulder pads. A good shirt needs high quality double-ply lining to makes the collars, cuffs and placket soft yet sturdy so that it has a professional look.
When shopping for tailors in Hoi An, it is important to skip the middlemen. Sweatshops charge very low per piece prices and usually squeeze out profits by rushing on orders and saving on workmanship.
With these tips, we certainly hope when all readers visit Hoi An Shopping can be a breeze!