Updated January 2023
Hoi An is famous for its leather stores: a pair of leather shoes crafted virtually overnight in Hoi An Ancient Town is a fraction of the cost in Western countries and will last for many years. You can also have your dream bag and other pre-eminent leather goods in Hoi An made in record time.
But how to choose? Where to go?
If you want to get the best quality, and a comprehensive insight into Hoi An’s leather industry, all you need is below.
Leather Goods Hoi An
If you like leather there is no better destination than Hoi An Old Town. Squeezed into a small space are abundant stores with unbeatable prices on anything and everything you could want made of leather. Whether it be jackets, wallets, luggage, backpacks or belts; sandals, sneakers, stylish fits to blue-suede classics – all of this is possible in Hoi An.
And if you’re stuck for gifts, look no further than a custom-made leather beer holder. Now wouldn’t that create some mirth back home when the boozer in your mix gets that for their birthday?
Most Popular Hoi An Leather Goods
The most sought-after leather goods in Hoi An are leather bags, customised leather shoes and leather jackets. You can buy them ready-made or you can dive right in, and get them custom-made (such a thrill!)
Hoi An Leather Bags
It’s hard to pass a Hoi An leather shop and not be lured by the musky smell of myriad leather bags of every shape and size imaginable.
Yet, the most thrilling, beguiling bag-shopping experience has to be designing your own, one-of-a-kind, unique, handbag. Clutch bag, sling bag, handbag, duffel or satchel bag – you name it, anything is possible.
Handmade Leather Shoes
What better memento to bring home from Vietnam than your very own self-designed shoes? Any style, color and type of leather is achievable — read Hoi An Shoe Shops for more
Hoi An is a shopping mecca for anyone looking to purchase a custom-made leather jacket. Leather artisans craft the jackets from buffalo or cow leather and use traditional dyeing techniques to color them. Additionally, each piece can be tailored according to your individual size specifications.
Hoi An Leather Prices
Prices vary according to leather quality, size, style, finishes and linings. The following is a gauge only:
Leather Bag 35 – 100 USD
Handmade Leather Shoes 50 – 100 USD
Leather Jacket 150 – 250 USD
Where Does Hoi An Leather Come From?
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.
Quality of Leather in Hoi An
The quality of Hoi An leather can be attributed to the two main types of hides used – buffalo and cow – both of which are known for their durability, yet still have a soft texture. The strongest and thickest of the two is buffalo leather.
Four basic categories or qualities divide leather in Hoi An: 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. It also offers greater durability.
Two Types of Leather Shops
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, the quality is not great. Most items are pre-made and there are very few customized options, if any.
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).
The second type of shop sells higher quality leather sourced from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Many of these shops have bags, jackets, belts and various other leather products on display that you can customize to your liking.
How to Tell Real Leather from Fake Leather
The shopkeepers are generally upfront about the quality of the leather. However, if you doubt the authenticity of the product there are a couple of simple tricks that you can use to make sure the items you intend to buy are made from real leather
Use Your Nose: Fake leather has an artificial, chemical smell, whereas its real counterpart will have a slightly mild, sweet, and earthy scent.
The Burns Test: Another way to tell if the leather is fake or real, is to do the ‘burns’ test. All you have to do is use a lighter and hold a flame to the product. If it is pure leather, it will not burn. If it does, you know you are dealing with fake leather.
Faux Leather (artificial leather): Even though most of the shops in Hoi An sell real leather, Vietnamese do use faux leather or leather-like vinyl so if you’re unsure, ask for the lighter test before making a purchase. The shopkeepers are happy to do this.
The Leather Buying Process in Hoi An
Choose the Best Quality Leather Shop for your Needs
When looking to have a handmade leather item made in Hoi An, the first step is to find the right shop: one that offers quality leather materials and skilled craftsmanship.
Select the Design
Once a shop has been chosen, the customer should discuss with the shopkeeper what type of item they would like to have crafted. The customer should then provide detailed specifications for the item, including measurements, requested material types and colors, stitching details, and any other special requests they may have.
Pick your Leather Type
The next step is for the customer to select their preferred leather material from among the selection available at the shop.
Select The Finishes
The final step in this process involves choosing the finishing touches such as jacket lining, belt buckles, bag zips along with touches such as polishing or dyeing the pieces before they are assembled into a single item according to its original design specification.
Turnaround Time to Picking up you Handmade Leather Item
The turnaround from ordering to pick up is usually 24 hours. However, tell them if you are in a hurry as it can be as quick as 3 hours.
Tips to the Leather Buying Process
- Consider additional features such as waterproofing or anti-tear treatments that may come in handy depending on how you plan to use your product
- Make sure to get a warranty or guarantee in case any issues arise after purchase
- When buying shoes, check the soles are stitched to the leather not just glued on
- Take your time. 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.
- Don’t forget to bring your lighter. Beware of fakes.
- Don’t be shy. If your pair of shoes isn’t the perfect fit or doesn’t come close to the shoe style you ordered, get the store to alter them until you are happy.
- Check the stitching. In the cheaper shoe stores stitching can be poor which can result in the shoe falling apart after only a few wears.
Best Leather Shops in Hoi An
Where to buy leather goods? With so many leather shops in Hoi An it can be difficult to pick one. To help make your search easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best leather stores in Hoi An that offer quality materials and skilled craftsmanship so you can find the perfect item with ease.
We suggest you start by walking along Tran Phu Street in Hoi An Old Town. If the rows and rows of bags, shoes and jackets on display don’t pull you in then the real leather aroma will.
Da Bao Real Leather
If you’re looking for leather shoes or jackets, Da Bao Real Leather is not your shop. They do not do these products. However, for bags and anything else leather, this shop (or shops, there are many) is one of the best in town. Every single item in these shops is 100% leather. It’s not hard to work out. The wonderful musky leather spice fills your nostrils when you enter. They offer a huge selection 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 colours. Smaller items such as belts, money clips, wallets and credit card holders are the perfect gift souvenirs for family and friends back home. Da Bao Real Leather is a ‘must visit’ for anyone looking for quality leather bags.
Price Guide: 1.5 to 3,000,000 VND (65 – 130 USD).
Friendly Leather Bags Hoi An
Friendly Leather Shop Hoi An has a long-standing reputation for the use of high-quality leather and the production of reliable products as attested by many Hoi An locals and expats. The business is known by a variety of names (Friendly Leather Shoe Shop Hoi An, Friendly Leather Bags, Friendly Shop) but they are all one in the same. Using only cow leather sourced from Hoi Chi Minh, ‘Friendly Leather Shop’ offers great service and quality products that come with a 6 month to 1 year guarantee, depending on the product you buy. We got some suede sneakers custom-made for 85 USD and were very happy with the quality.
Price Guide: high quality carry-on sized duffle bag 2,990,000 – 3,220,000 VND (130 – 140 USD).
Hoi An Soul Leather
If chic not money is the object of your leather shopping, go straight to Hoi An Soul Leather.
This upmarket minimalist shop situated in Tran Phu Street, offers some very stylish bags and purses. Every item here is handmade with superior cow leather – from luxurious leather tote bags, exquisite sling bags or bucket bags, all the way to sleek leather envelope clutch bags. Fancy!
Price Guide: : 2,300,000 – 5,520,000 VND (100 – 240 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 buy custom made wallets, bags, and shoes, but also jackets or other clothing items. Buffalo Leather Shop source all their leather from Ho Chi Minh.
Price Guide: duffel bags start at 2,000,000 VND (87 USD)
Hoi An Central Market Leather Shop Vendors
It takes willpower and strength to walk through Central Market so be prepared to get accosted. Keep your focus and visit the many leather stalls to find the seller that most fits your needs. Getting shoes made at the market is cheaper than in Hoi An Old Town leather shops but you will need to haggle. We have had great shoes made here along with titanic disasters. Check Tips to the Leather Buying Process. Bring your lighter!
Price Guide: small hand bags can be commissioned for about 690,000 VND (30 USD).
Shoes Shop Lukey
One of the many leather vendors inside Hoi An’s Central Market, 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).
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should you pay for a leather bag in Hoi An?
The cost of a leather bag in Hoi An will vary depending on the type of shop, leather and style of bag that you choose. However, a rough gauge is 30 – 100 USD.
Will leather stretch when heated?
It all comes down to the type of leather. Buffalo leather, being a relatively strong and rigid material, will not typically stretch if heated. However, cow leather is more like sheepskin and will actually expand if it is heated.
Are leather jackets stylish?
Leather jackets have long been a fashion staple for both men and women, with their versatility making them the perfect piece for a variety of settings. Leather jackets offer an easy way to upgrade any look. They can also lend structure and definition to more laidback outfits, adding a cool edge. Finally, leather jackets offer incredible protection from cold winter weather while also looking incredibly stylish.
Which leather is the warmest?
Different types of leather provide different degrees of insulation against cold temperatures. For the warmest option, buffalo leather is an ideal choice as its thick hide offers superior protection with its dense fibers.
Which leather is good for jackets?
Buffalo leather and cow-hide are two of the most popular choices to use for jackets. Buffalo leather is particularly sought after by shoppers due to its extreme toughness and durability; it is also more resistant to water and will keep you warmer in cold weather. On the other hand, cowhide is noted for being much softer, lighter and easier to break in. Ultimately, both types of leather are good options; it all depends on your individual style and preferences.
Revised and updated June 2018