Not too many years ago, shopping in Hoi An was a rather hollow experience for a shopaholic. There were a fair number of outlets, including tailor, souvenir, jewelry, leather and shoe shops, but once you’d been to one you’d pretty much been to them all.
Nowadays, original, high-quality retailers and products are sprouting like mushrooms as Hoi An becomes more boutique by the year. From first-class tailors, souvenir shops and local markets to a hoard of coffee shops ready to sell you some of the best coffee you’ve ever had, Hoi An is a city bustling with shopping opportunities. And if you end up buying more that you can pack? No problem. Just stroll around the narrow streets. You’ll find a great selection of luggage to help you house your Hoi An shopping spree.
So, no matter if you are backpacking, traveling low-budget or enjoying a one-week holiday in one of the luxury hotels in town, here is a complete guide on shopping in Hoi An to make your job easier.
Affordable yet high-quality tailoring services are ubiquitous in Hoi An. Tourists arrive – some specifically – in the hope of purchasing their own bespoke dresses, suits, shirts, and shoes within a day or two and at a fraction of the price they might pay back home. It’s a tradition that follows from its longstanding history as a major trading port on the Silk Road and many businesses can be traced through a number of family generations.
With over 700 tailor stores competing for your attention, it can get somewhat confusing knowing which to trust or deciding which one best suits your taste, but with some key tips and pointers under your belt, the process of choosing your own fabrics and walking away with your own unique garment can be an exciting and satisfying experience.
If getting a custom-made outfit is on your radar but you don’t know where to start, peruse our Hoi An Shopping Guide to Tailors and read our advice on how to choose wisely and prevent a tailoring disaster.
Clothes, Shoes & Accessories
So much more than a maze of tailor shops, Hoi An has really come into its own in the fashion stakes. Its homegrown and expat designers have combined their efforts and talents, bringing to the fore innovative, quirky and very stylish offerings that make purse strings loosen in a blink of an eye.
From the beautiful designs of Metiseko, where you can choose between the softest silk dresses, exquisite accessories and home ware, to the funky, casual clothes of Hot Chilli, there are options to please even the pickiest customer of them all.
Read more about clothes, shoes & accessories in Hoi An
No vacation should be completed before exploring at least one local market. It’s the place where you can really take the pulse of the city, see how locals live and, in this case, learn a thing or two about bargaining, which is an essential skill to have in Vietnam.
As is the case with many other cities in the country, Hoi An is famous for its various markets where you can find almost everything under the sun. You can start the day off on a food adventure and grab some breakfast at Hoi An’s Central Market in the Old Town, then kick back with locals and enjoy a banh mi for lunch at the more relaxed Ba Le Market. End the day with tasty street food such as banh xeo and a spot of shopping at the action-packed Hoi An Night Market.
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Arts, Gifts & Souvenirs
Wandering the streets, it’s easy to see that Hoi An is a treasure trove of souvenirs, gifts, arts and crafts.
Shopping for Souvenirs
The markets are an obvious place to hunt, but there is no shortage of gift and specialty shops in town. Places such as Art Space or Viet Made, offer a plethora of interesting yet cheap souvenirs. And for those who want to make their Hoi An shopping part of a worthy cause, visit the incredible Reaching Out or Lifestart Foundation. These not-for-profit organizations support adults with disabilities and disadvantaged families through training and employment. You will find beautiful, meaningful merchandise and souvenirs at both these shops.
One of Hoi An’s most distinctive and characteristic features is the elegantly-crafted lanterns. Hanging all around the city, they come in different shapes, sizes and designs and can be bought at shops and stalls at every corner.
One of the best places to buy lanterns is Hoi An Night Market or one of the many lantern workshops.
Masks & Wood Carvings
If you’re looking for something a bit more quirky, potential souvenirs include historical masks representing famous Vietnamese folkloric characters. Carved and sculptured from bamboo or wood, masks hold a special place in Vietnamese culture.
Well-known artist Do Huynh Phuong offers handicraft workshops in Hoi An where visitors can learn about the ancient craft of sculpting using bamboo root and create their own bamboo masterpiece to take back home.
Art & Galleries
Sometimes the most treasured souvenir is a work of art that represents or elicits memories of a destination. Whether you’re likely to stumble upon a painting that you become besotted with or purposely hunt for pieces of work by local artists, Hoi An is a melting-pot of artists and art-lovers alike. You’ll have no problem finding an art gallery or store to get your hands on a memento of your travels.
Oil and water-colour paintings are particularly popular with local artisans. Whilst artworks are varied, many traditional pieces centre on Vietnamese life. Paintings with scenes from a bygone era, romantic landscapes and Vietnamese women wearing Non La hats, a cultural symbol of Vietnamese character and charm, ooze from every other gallery.
What to Buy in Hoi An
Here’s a list of things you’ll find when exploring the vibrant city of Hoi An, that are especially linked to Vietnam. If you want to gift your dear ones unique pieces, you should go for Ao dai (the national costume of Vietnam), conical hats (which are the symbol of Vietnamese agriculture) or ceramic items that are hand-crafted based on traditional methods. On the other hand, if you want to impress your friends with local products, make sure to pack a bag of Vietnamese coffee and some nuoc cham sauce.
Bargain Shopping in Hoi An and Vietnam
For those of you who like shopping for bargains, this section will delight you. Imagine if spending money actually saved you money! Well it does, in Vietnam. Things like dentistry, medical treatments and tests, permanent makeup, tattoos even medication, cost far less in Vietnam.
Read more on what to buy in Vietnam
Tips for Shopping in Hoi An!
With so many shops around, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, but after you get some insight into Hoi An shopping’s scene, we guarantee you will be playing the game like a pro. Below are our most valuable tips for shopping in Hoi An.
Do your research before buying
Whilst the process of shopping for ready-made clothes isn’t as overwhelming and risky as hunting for a good tailor, it can no doubt get perplexing when you’re spoilt for choice. Make it easier on yourself by doing a bit of research beforehand. Make sure to check out individual stores’ websites to see what they sell and don’t sell, and follow this up with online reviews to see what the people are saying about them.
Check the fabric
Don’t be shy about inspecting the quality of fabric thoroughly before buying any clothes. Make sure that the quality of the material and design is sound and the stitching is all intact.
Get used to bargaining
Haggling can feel intimidating for some, whereas others regard it as part of the cultural experience. It’s definitely a skill that’s worth harboring in this part of the world, and it’s good to bear in mind that the opening price you’re quoted by a retailer is usually provisional and much higher – often double – than the lowest price that they would actually accept for that item. Remember though to keep it fun! Bargaining is a way of life in Vietnam.
Don’t bargain in shops with fixed prices
More and more, Vietnam is moving towards fixed prices in their shops. While in places like the markets it is not only acceptable, but also expected to bargain, you should definitely not practice your skills in supermarkets and shops with fixed prices.
When shopping in the markets know the prices before you barter. Check out our video, Market Prices with Ha. Shopping in the markets can be a confusing experience. How much should you pay? Do they understand? Ha offers a helping hand by gearing you up with the right Vietnamese lingo and sharpening your bargaining skills before you hit the stands.
Go lantern-shopping at night
Shop for lanterns in the evening when they are beautifully lit-up and striking and you can see exactly what you’ll be getting. Word of caution: be sure not to start your buying lantern evening with Happy Hour Cocktails . You may end up with a warehouse of lanterns and an empty purse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hoi An is a buyer’s paradise. There are souvenir shops, clothes shops, boutiques, art galleries, tailors and great markets. As with everything in Vietnam, prices are incredibly cheap.
Like many Asian countries, Vietnam has embraced the West. Clothing reflects this. What you will still find everywhere, however, is traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai. You can buy Ao Dai cheaply in most tourists shops. However, for something more special have one made up. Whether you are skinny or mập (plump) every woman looks incredible in Ao Dai.
The best place to buy silk in Hoi An is the Silk Village. Whilst it is expensive, their silk is the finest you’ll find. They also have the most extensive choice.
For boutiques and souvenirs the best place to shop is Hoi An Old Town. However, if you’re looking for bargains such as cheap jeans, kids clothing, men and ladies fashion head to Ly Thuong Kiet. Shops like Blue Exchange where you can pick up women, men’s and kids clothing offer terrific value.
Hoi An shopping is a buyer’s paradise. Popular shopping items include, leather bags, Non La Hats, Ao Dai, lanterns, ceramics, paintings, North-face merchandise, Vietnamese coffee, custom made shoes, straw bags and jewelry. For the ‘fruit cases’ amongst us, buy up big on the ubiquitous Banana Shirts on sale around Hoi An. En masse wearing of these incredible outfits certainly bring zest to any party.