Tailor shops recommendations trap!!
Almost all shopper fail to know is that almost EVERYBODY earns commission from referring buying customers to shoes and tailor shops. This includes almost every receptionist, door boy, taxi drivers, hotel bus drivers and even staff of 5 star resorts. There might also be some random friendly stranger (usually outside shuttle bus stations or along busier streets) who approaches you to his or his 'family' shop which offers the 'best' value. The next moment you know it, you might be paying an INFLATED price and 30-50% of what you bought go into the pockets of the friendly local or receptionist you've just met.
Tour guides are also capable or bringing their tours to tailor shops not screened by their companies in order to earn a higher commission cut.
I am a fan of nice tailored shirts and suits and was disgusted after being "recommended" into tailor shops that made clothes that fell apart after one try. That was the key for my motivation to bring in my expertise into building a reputable tailor shop in Hoi An with a vision to make clothes that look good on customers and to discourage tourists from being cheated by such "recommendation" practices like myself.
Unique Suggestions: 1) Do not trust recommendations from anybody including hotel receptionists, drivers or any friendly stranger. Put in some due diligence if you wish to find a reliable tailor.
2) When checking Tripadvisor reviews, beware if the shop's reviews do not contain the staff's name in every review. Firstly, the staff from these shops receive incentives for each review and will hard-sell the customer into writing review in the shop. Secondly, when the customer does review in the shop, the review does not reveal anything about the quality of the clothes given that the clothes can always fall into pieces when the customer goes back to his/her country
3) Beware if the shop has too many Tripadvisor reviews. There are companies that teach Tailor shops how to do fake reviews and some tailor shops, including big ones, engage their services. Watch out for "Vietnamese style" English in these reviews as Vietnamese are poor with past, present tenses and singular, plural words.
Fun Alternatives: Search online for the better tailor shops in Hoi An and shortlist from there. Locals from Hoi An are not very proficient in IT skills and English and it is not easy for them to manipulate data online. Tripadvisor, though still reliable, is the only online medium most Hoi An business owners try to manipulate.
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Not always true...
I wanted just to clear the comments if not, your holidays will look like a battle...and it's not true everytime. Don't be paranoiac everytime !
Recommandations from hotel or anyboby else : yes, they have a commission but No, it doesn't have consequences for the customer BUT only for the owner of the shop or restaurant or spa.
I have a restaurant in Hoi An and yes, we work also with commissions like everywhere, but I can not charge my customers for this, I have to deduce the commission on the total bill of the customers and give it to the receptionist. So, I am the only one to pay the commission, not my customers. The same is for the spa massage.
At least, when you have a fixed price on the menu, on the massage, on the clothes, you can not be charged 30 to 50% more like I read before.
Maybe for the tailors because prices will depends on your materials, size, work etc...You don't have a fixed price ! it's on measure so more difficult to estimate and know the right price.
You know, a medium salary for a waitress is 120usd per month, to rent a room is already 30 to 50usd per month for a Vietnamese...If you have a family, a box of milk powder is around 20usd, you need 4 box per month for a baby...So yes, ALL VIETNAM works on commissions to survive, to have an extra income. So many tourists doesn't give tips anymore or many just gave 5000 dong, that is just 4 cts !!! and most of people thought that Asia is cheaper so far...yes and no...life is changing also here and so the prices also for the Vietnamese. For exemple, my bill of electricity is higher here than in Europe., wines, alcohols, taxes on importations are high.
Unique Suggestions: My tip is maybe try to know more or less the price of the usual things in the country where you want to go, negociate is part of the culture in several country and don't think too much about being cheat. It can ruin your holidays...
Fun Alternatives: Go out of touristic places, don't travel in high season, people are different...
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- Spa and Resort
- Food and Dining
When you see a manikin in this tailor's shop and you like the garment, especially having been told it's cashmere. After you've ordered it and returned for a fitting, be sure that it is the same material.
Unique Suggestions: Check out Trip Advisor or this website beforehand.
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Sweet girls selling stuff at Cua Dai Beach
Please note that when you venture onto the 'public' area (which does not belong to any of the hotels) of Cua Dai Beach, sweet young ladies will approach you to buy 'anything' from them. They carry a vast assortment of items ranging from biscuits, to ointment, to souvenirs. The asking price is about 10 times the prices in town. So even if you manage to haggle it to a discount of 50%, you are actually paying much more. So 'know' your prices.
The only good thing is that they have some sort of system worked out among them, so that if 1 girl approaches you, the others are not allowed to.
Hoi An clothing trap
I went to a tailor called Thu Thuy, 60 Le Loi st. Because they had very nice fabrics I decided to buy a silk jacket there even though they were very expensive. I was measured up and the next day I had a fitting. Before anyone had a chance to say anything my husband, who knows nothing about clothes, said "that is far too tight". And indeed it was way too tight although the shop assistants thought it fitted beautifully. I could hardly move my shoulders and had difficulties getting my arm out of the sleeves. I insisted that they fix my jacked. I had also bought pair of pants which were double the price of other shops but these were thank goodness OK. After an uncomfortable discussion they reluctantly decided they would change the jacket after telling me I had asked for it to fit tight. (I have always hated tight clothes).
I came back for the second fitting and the shoulders were alright but the sleeves had remained unchanged. I had noticed another jacket hanging in the shop and measured my sleeves against those sleeves and my sleeves were at least 3 inches too narrow. After I showed them the difference they had to accept responsibility and had to get extra fabric to fix up the sleeves.
This third time it was finally fixed but they could not be bothered to iron my jacket. I accepted the jacket as I had enough and did not want to deal with these people anymore.
Unique Suggestions: It is important to go to shops that are highly recommended. A Dong Silk had been recommended by our Hoi An Riverside Resort but I knew better and tried 3 different shops. A Dong Silk won with flying colours.
If you go to other tailor shops make sure you can understand them as it can lead to unpleasant situations if you cannot understand each other.
Fun Alternatives: My husband and I together bought 9 pair of pants at A Dong Silk plus a silk top for me. The people at A Dong Silk in Tran Hung Dao St are very professional and friendly. They measured accurately and their tailors did an excellent job. Their price for our slacks were half the price of those charged at Thu Thuy in Le Loi St. Both my husband and I were very impressed with A Dong Silk and can highly recommend them. We have not been in their other shop in Le Loi St.
Cua Dai beach
Cua dai beach is located 5 km out of Hoi An, and - as a website puts it - it's a "ine white sand, clear and blue water, moderate slopes and small waves, which make it ideal for recreational activities like swimming and other sea sports". We found it neither pleasant not saw the white sand... blue water? Mhhh...
Unique Suggestions: Check out the beach for a day, maybe, but don't book a vacation in the expensive hotels nearby... there are better sea-side locations in Vietnam than Hoi An.
Fun Alternatives: If you like partying, go there at night. There are often some... someone in the old town will hand out flyiers to you.
Taylor-made clothes are the biggest tourist trap in Hoi An... one hard to avoid, as they really look great... especially the flower embroideries themy create on silk. However we were told by manny, including a local insider, that the quality is very poor... true, clothes are cheap in Hoi An, but apparently they are not worth the money paid. Even our local insider, who lives in Hoi An and knows plenty of people, did not succeed in having a pair of trousers made by a friend.. and still they did not last a year...
Unique Suggestions: Admire the clothes in the windows... and then say, no thanks. And look for a magnificent clothes shop with some golden furniture... it was once a theatre (see photo)
Fun Alternatives: If you find some silk that you like, buy it... if you are northbound, have your clothes made in Hue... the quality is much superior... the beauty the same (and sometimes even better)
Shoes in Hoi An?
There are quite a few places you can have shoes made in Hoi An - but you need to understand that these are not going to be the Italian leather jobs you might get back home...wherever home is.
Unique Suggestions: Realise that these shoes are cheap shoes and cheap shoes are what you are going to get. The shoes are ok but the finish is rough and the styling is, well, lacking something.
If they are run-abouts or shoes for kids who want to dress up pretty (and grow out of them in a year) or fashion shoes that you know you will get sick of soon or practical shoes that are not going to be a beauty item...then you will probably get good value.
On the upside...everything we had made was very comfortable, good leather and good value. I just wouldn't wear them anywhere fancy.
Fun Alternatives: Don't buy shoes here if you are fussy or have high expectations about finish.
Buying Clothes From the Hoi An Tailors
If you go to have clothes made in Hoi An, do research before you get there to find a recommended tailor. If you use your hotel's recommendations, the tailor has to pay up to 40% commission to the Hotel.
We went straight to a tailor recommended to us by another traveller and told them they'd been recommended to us by previous customers. We got excellent service, excellent recommendations from them on quality fabncs and suitable (and unsuitable) designs, excellent prices and we didn't have the painful process of bargaining. We didn't have to - no commission had to be paid and the tailors knew that in a city with 400 other tailors, word of mouth recommendations from tourists to tourists are gold.
Unique Suggestions: Here are some ways around this.
1. Don't say you were directed there by the hotel or tell them where you are staying.
2. Spread your business around a few places. If you don't like the work of one place, you are minimising your risk by using a few different ones.
3. Get a recommendation from one of your fellow travellers (eg see below) about places where they found quality.
Fun Alternatives: You could bring your own fabrics if you want to be sure of the quality.
We were most pleased with a family tailor business: Vu Thu, 115 Nguyen Duy Hieu St. They specialised in silks and cottons and cashmere wools from the UK. Out of the tailors we used, these people could not do enough to get the clothes absolutely to our satisfaction and were very easy to communicate with - which is saying something. Ask for Vang and tell her you saw her recommended on this VT internet site.
Communicate Carefully When Ordering Clothes
Many of the tailors don't, surprise surprise, have English as their first language. And it's odds on that your Vietnamese isn't too hot either. So sometimes, you think you've described what you want and they think they understand what you want and when the item of clothing turns up....well, it isn't what you'd thought.
Then there is unhappiness.
Unique Suggestions: Have a picture of what you want, or draw it.
Label on the diagram or picture particular aspects that are important to you...like good zippers, lining, invisible hem, or particular features... whatever. Think about this very carefully before you get there.
Write down how many of what colour/fabric you have ordered and make sure they have a copy and you have a copy - even if it's a receipt.
Fun Alternatives: Order your clothes as soon as you get to Hoi An - make it the first thing you do.
Leave time to order them, try them on and identify amendments, try them on and identify final alterations, and then to try them on again for final fit. This needs three days.
If you don't have three days, don't have unrealistic expectations about the fit you can achieve.
Hoi An- Tailors
Hello, I would have listed this under shopping, but thought here was more appropriate.
My fiance and I travelled to Vietnam, from South to North. Hoi An was high on our priority list- mainly for the tailored clothes that you can have made at unrealistically low prices.
We were walking down one of the main roads and a lady started talking to asked us if we wanted to have come clothes made by a friend of hers. We were weary at first because of the reasearch that we had done regarding tailors in Hoi An (yes, on this website), but then said yes because of her demure nature. We followed her down the road, past the market..to this huge textile place. (I wish I could remember the name of this place-sorry =(. It must have been some sort of 'collective' as there were a good fifty or more people each working on the clothing, and the selection of textiles were piled high up to the ceiling. This day, I put in orders for 2 Ao Dai (Vietnamese Dress), and my fiance 2 suits, and 2 shirts. Well, it ended up that out of 3 days we had to go back everyday for a fitting. Now, I have had experience in clothing making so I know that if you take enough and/or proper measurements, you shouldn't have to come back 3 times. This was the first warning sign. The last day, I had mentioned that I would like embroidery on my Ao Dai. I had a photo of it, and because I didn't want anything to go wrong, I even made the stencil for them to use and specified the colour.
Unique Suggestions: We told her that we would be going on a 1/2 day trip in the afternoon and wouldn't be back until her store was closed. She said that she could drop everything off at the hotel to our room. When we got back that evening, we waited for her but she did not come. It was about 10:00pm. We went down to the lobby and she had left the clothing with the front desk. Before we even opened everything, we knew we had trouble. My fiance's adjustments had not been made, the buttom holes on his shirts were not cut-through, my 2 Ao Dai pants were 3 inches shorter than specified, the stitching was poorly done (understatement), and they were stained with dirt.
Oh, not to mention that regarding Nghia's suits, the drycleaner himself commented on the low-quality material and craftsmanship on the tailoring. His exact words: if you get this drycleaned again, there will be puckering everywhere".
Fun Alternatives: I was lucky that my fiance was not so upset by this experience at first. He said that he would buy me another Ao Dai when got to Hue, to save some cost on the money that I lost. It was clear that I couldn't wear these. In Hue, by suggestion of the Hotel receptionist, the best place to have Ao Dai made: Nha May Chi.. I had 2 made again (I wanted to put the wrongs to a right) and they fit like a glove. I also had on made for my mother and they had them complete in one day, only alteration needed was the length of my pants. I was so surprised and relieved!
What I would suggest for all thinking about having clothing made and Ao Dai made in Hoi An is to avoid this area completely. There are plently of good tailors in the smaller towns like Hue, that can do a better job at better prices. With Ao Dai, they have tailors who have done this for generations, and know how these should be constructed to fit the body perfectly. The market for Hoi An is so saturated with average tailors that the good ones are far in between. Even after we did research on the internet and took the names down of the reputable tailors, we either couldn't find their store or they were flooded with tourists. Needless to say that the quality may have been lost somehow. If you're like me, you would rather pay the extra, or in this case, by again so it wasn't a total loss.
Another thing I would suggest would be to take after my fiance's attitude about this. Knowing that I could probably find this somewhere else, he suggested to have made again. He also didn't want this to ruin our trip so he let go of his disappointment until he got home.If you will not be going to the smaller towns, then I would even have clothing made in Saigon (everyone goes to Saigon). Yes, there are fantactic tailors in Saigon. =).
Boat ride on the canal
It's very beautiful to stroll along the canal street in the old city, but as you pass boat owners will offer you again and again a tour in their boat
Unique Suggestions: Take the ride, after all, you wouldn't be here next week to change your mind. Unless you are in a very romantic mood, take the motor boat. The row boat is a bit boring
Fun Alternatives: If your hotel is close to the canal, you can take it as a ride back home. If you don't take it at all, you'll regret it later
My Son Ruins
Some people might list this in the "Things to Do" category, but I found the My Son ruins a place that could be missed without regret, especially if Cambodia's Angkor ruins are on your itinerary.
A UNESCO World Heritage Sight that is about an hour's drive from Hoi An, the My Son ruins are a collection of temple-towers which were built over time during the presence of the Champa Kingdom between the 4th and 13th centuries. The My Son ruins are significant as a marker of the migration of Indian Hindu culture into Southeast Asia and a focal point for the growth of the region's significant Cham culture.
Now, if you're really interested in Cham culture, the My Son ruins are an essential stop, perhaps even the whole reason why you'd go to Vietnam's central coast. Myself, I just wanted to see some cool ruins. I came away unimpressed and I had still yet to see the Angkor temples. I signed up for a tour with Camelback Travel that cost 70,000 dong (a little over $4) and after exiting the bus, but before entering the ruins, we were treated to a tacky Vietnamese "traditional dance" performance that had nothing to do with Cham culture. I took that as a bad sign that the tour operators felt that the ruins themselves were not worth the price of admission and an enhancer was required. They were right, but the enhancer failed in its objective. At least I met some people to go drink with that night, so it wasn't a total loss.
Unique Suggestions: Poke fun at anything you possibly can. That always makes outings like this more enjoyable.
Fun Alternatives: If you're just up for some grand ruins and aren't that into Cham history and culture, cross My Son off your list and stick with the Angkor temples. If you still need to something to do around Hoi An, go to Cua Dai beach or get some more clothes. Maybe take a cooking class. If none of that interests you, pull up a bar stool.
- Historical Travel
Beware of clyclos ripping you off
Always negotiate a price with the cyclos before you start...we were told it was 50.000 dong for a ride around the ancient city but on when they dropped us off it had doubled as we had taken longer than an hour which they definitely hadn't stipulated at the start!!!!
Hoi An - Tourist Trap?
The town of Hoi An is surely quaint and it has nice hotels and good food, but it is not a great destination. It is full of little shops that are there to get your money. There must be 100 clothing shops in this town. While it advertises itself as close to the beaches, in reality it is 7 or 8 Km from the beach. it's no wonder most tourists wander off after 2 days in town!
Unique Suggestions: Stay at a hotel near the beach, or go to Na Trang where the hotels are near the beach. You could also take some tours to local sites.
Fun Alternatives: Just relax for a couple days. Go down to the river at night and enjoy the good food and cold beer. If you want to go to the beach, take a motor bike. The sun is so intense that you won't stay there too long anyway.
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