Hoi An is famous for its leather shops and a pair of leather shoes made here will cost you a fraction of what it would cost in western countries. You can also have your dream bag or shoes made in record time and a well-made pair will last you for many years. However, in order to get the best quality out there, a little insight into Hoi An’s leather industry will help! Read our complete guide below
Where Does Hoi An Leather Come From?
If you want to get the best value from your leather shopping in Hoi An, research is everything. In general, there are four big sources of leather used in South-East Asia. The thinner type is usually Chinese leather and will tear easily so try to avoid it. On the other hand, the leather sourced from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos is thicker and therefore will last you much longer.
Types of Hoi An Leather
There are two types of leather retailers in Hoi An and it is important to know one from the other. The majority of shops you see with many goods propped up on display in big stacks use the thin leather that comes from China. Whilst it is real leather, it is usually best avoided. Most items are pre-made and there are very few customization options, if any.
The second type of shop sells higher quality leather, the one sourced from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Many of these shops have bags on display that you can customize to your liking.
As for the type of leather itself, the material has four basic qualities and can be divided in full-grain leather, top-grain leather, genuine leather, and corrected-grain leather. Out of all of them, the most popular is the full-grain leather, which has a smooth and luxurious surface that reveals its natural grain.
Two Types Of Leather Shops
There are two types of leather retailers in Hoi An and it is important to know one from the other. The majority of shops you see with many goods propped up on display in big stacks source their leather from China.
While they sell real leather, it is much thinner than what you would find in a made-to-order shop. Most items are pre-made and there are very few customization options, if any. The shopkeepers are generally upfront about this. If you doubt the authenticity of the leather you can always take a whiff or ask the owner to hold a lighter against it – real leather does not burn.
While these lower-end shops are not a bad option for someone who is in a time crunch or on a budget (as these bags retail for half the price of bespoke leather bags), they didn’t have what I was looking for.
The second type of shop sells higher quality leather sourced from Vietnam and Laos. Many of these shops have bags on display that you can customize to your liking.
How to Tell Real Leather from Fake Leather
With so many leather shops in Hoi An, one can easily feel overwhelmed. However, there is a simple trick that you can use to make sure the items you intend to buy are made from real leather. All you have to do is use a lighter and hold a flame to the product. If it is real leather, it will not burn. If it does, you know you are dealing with fake leather.
Even though most of the leather shops in Hoi An sell real leather, Vietnamese do have a product called si-mi-lee or leather-like vinyl so if you’re unsure, ask for the lighter test before making a purchase.
Where to Buy Leather Goods in Hoi An
Da Bao Real Leather
Every single item in the shop is 100% leather. There’s a huge choice of bags or you can commission a bespoke design. All luxuriously lined in cashmere, take your pick from buffalo and suede finishes or crocodile in a range of colors. Smaller items such as belts, money clips, wallets and credit card holders are the perfect gift souvenirs for family and friends back home…great reasons to shop at Da Bao Real Leather.
Price Guide: 1.5 to 3,000,000 VND (65 – 130 USD).
The Friendly Leather Bag Shop
The Friendly Leather Bag Shop has a long-standing reputation for the use of high-quality leather and the production of reliable products as attested by many locals and expats.
Price Guide: high quality carry-on sized duffle bag 2,990,000 – 3,220,000 VND (130 – 140 USD).
Le Phan Leather
From the second you walk into the shop, you will feel at home. Being a true family-run business, the owner of this leather shop and her family go out of their way to help you find the perfect product while offering outstanding customer service.
The owner will explain the process and help you pick your design and fabric, her sister assists her whenever needed, and her brother creates the products.
Price Guide: duffel bags start at: 1,600,000 VND (70 USD)
While we may risk sounding like a broken disk, this is another family business in Hoi An. They use real leather and can create different kinds of products: from shoes and bags to cool leather jackets.
Like pretty much anywhere else, if you have something specific in mind, show them a picture and trust they will reproduce it as best as they can.
Price Guide: duffel bags start at 1,850,000 VND (80 USD)
Tu-Chi Leather Bags
Tu-Chi Leather Bags has been making a name for itself among backpackers for producing quality bags (and lederhosen) with a quick turn-around. While still growing, Tu-Chi Leather Bags has earned overwhelmingly positive reviews on TripAdvisor.
Price Guide: duffel bags cost 2,500,000 VND – 3,200,000 VND (110 – 140 USD)
Bò Cười Laughing Cow Leather Store
While the shop is quite small, never judge a book by its cover or in this case, never judge the quality of the leather products by the size of the shop.
One of the reasons this shop stands out is because they don’t use leather sourced from China. Instead, they use buffalo leather for bags and cow leather for shoes.
Price Guide: duffel bags start at 2,200,000 VND (95 USD)
Buffalo Leather Shop
This may not be as famous as other shops on this page but Buffalo Leather Shop has a great reputation amongst expats living in Hoi An.
As you can probably tell by the name of the shop, they use real buffalo and cow leather for all their products. Here, you can get custom made wallets, bags, and shoes, but also jackets or other clothing items.
Price Guide: duffel bags start at 2,000,000 VND (87 USD)
Thanh Van Cloth Shop
Recommended by a Hoi An expat who worked in the fashion industry for many years, Thanh Van Cloth Shop also deals in leather shoes and bags. They also have a good reputation for using high quality leather and pleasing their customers.
Price Guide: for high quality carry-on sized duffle bag 2,300,000 – 4,600,000 VND (100 – 200 USD).
Shoes Shop Lukey
Pham Cam at ‘Lukey Shoes’ does great leather work for both shoes and bags at very reasonable prices.
Price Guide: medium-sized handbag 1,380,000 VND (60 USD).
Leather Shop Market Vendors
Take a look around and see what you can find before committing to any store in town. Great deals can be found for genuine leather goods if you are willing to haggle, but don’t forget to bring your lighter. Beware of fakes.
Price Guide: small hand bags can be commissioned for about 690,000 VND (30 USD).
Revised and updated June 2018