A Delightfully Indulgent Day in Hoi An

March 17, 2011

When you visit Hoi An, you’re more than likely to come away with a few tailor made goodies. Whether shoes or suits, coats or dresses (or in our case, all of the aforementioned!), you can easily grab a bargain – and one that fits you like a glove, to boot!

Back home I rarely shop for clothes. I find it so expensive, and as I am perpetually saving for more travel (and a house, and a wedding) I don’t find clothes shopping a necessity. Rather, it is more of an indulgence. I may want a cute dress, but I don’t need it. So it was nice to forget my rules get a some pretty clothes made on this trip, all while still staying within our budget.

That is one of the blessed things about travelling to Asia instead of Europe, you can afford to treat yourself and indulge a little…

Choosing your tailor can be an overwhelming experience (read the Buy section here for tips) – there are just so many to choose from, and they all raucously vie for your business. We strolled around for a while before settling on our tailor, the lovely Ngan. How did we pick her? It was quite simple, really, we instantly felt a connection with Ngan. She came up to us as we were passing through the crowded cloth hall and was friendly, confident and assured. We just knew she was our tailor. It sounds corny, doesn’t it? But it’s true, we just knew. It was love at first stitch…

I took in some pictures of clothing I wanted copied – the classic Burberry Trench Coat and a Valentino dress (big call, but she came through). Ben got 4 slimline suits made, as well as a bunch of business shirts and some casual ones too. We also had a suit and two shirts made for my brother, Jackson. Just in case you’re interested, the suits were 120 AUD each and the shirts 15AUD each. My coat was 90 AUD my dress was 60AUD. We were thrilled with them all! I absolutely adore my new coat and dress. I don’t have pictures of our goodies yet, as we are currently in the process of moving apartments and everything is packed up. No doubt I will be flaunting my new coat soon, though 😉

We (read: Ben) bargained the prices down a little (mainly the shirts) but honestly, it is not like in Morocco or other places – the price they quote you is usually very good, and in the end you may get it down a little, but what for…to save $5?

Ngan was the perfect tailor and hostess. On our last day, as we picked up our purchases, she brought over some Cao lầu and we sat in her little nook in the cloth market and enjoyed a meal together. I was sad to say goodbye.

We also had some shoes made by a different lady – cute booties and work flats for me, and a great casual pair of shoes for Ben. They were between 20-35 AUD for each pair, and they’re fabulous.

After all that intense shopping, it is incredibly important to replenish your stores… with some Cơm bình dân (which, according to noodlepie, means “food for the workers”).

We visited this little stand, just outside of the Old Town, for a serve of chicken, tofu, vegetables, egg, rice and soup. There are loads of Cơm bình dân restaurants all across Vietnam, a popular place for locals to fill up on the cheap.Our meal was really yummy! Well, the rice, tofu and vegetables were. And the soup, which is apparently flavoured with the rau má leaf (thanks for this information, Linh!), was also delicious – very refreshing, good for cutting through the heat of the chilli. The chicken, on the other hand, was not so great – very little meat and quite fatty. But we were quite impressed overall, especially for a dollar…

Staying hydrated is also necessary when indulging. A fresh coconut off the street from a man with a machete and a cart full of coconuts (and branches) is clearly the ideal choice.

Happy coconut juice dance…

And lastly, we felt it prudent to undergo a little pampering.

A haircut for Ben – please note the hilarious pictures on the walls. Clearly they served as inspiration for Ben’s hairdresser, who was 100% rockin’ the look.

And I treated myself to a little manicure. However my manicurist was decidedly unimpressed that I requested a clear polish. When I pointed out my desired colour (or lack there of), she let out a big sigh. Sorry, lady! I know you were pulling for lime green.

Tough day, hey 😉

Heidi xo

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  • Lisa (bakebikeblog) March 17, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I really regret not getting some tailor made clothes when I was O/S!!

  • Kath (My Funny Little Life) March 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Wow, that sewing machine looks *antique*! :O And the fabrics are incredibly beautiful! Did you choose of of them for one of the dresses you got tailored? I'd love to see a picture of them! 😀

  • Blithely Unaware March 17, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I can't wait to see the dress and coat!!!
    The food looks delicious as all the food has on your travels!! Jealous!!!
    The photos on the barber's walls are hilarious – rock out!!!

  • Machteld March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Sounds awesome. So looking forward to pics of your clothes :)!

  • Michelle Chin March 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    AHHHH! I'm craving for some fresh coconut now. 🙁

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella March 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    hehe you're really making me want to jump on a plane to Vietnam!

  • The InTolerant Chef March 17, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Hurry and unpack the outfits, we want a whole fashion parade!

  • Lauren March 17, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I am really enjoying the Vietnam travel stories, I did a similar trip in 2009 so it is nice to relive it through your posts. Looking forward to seeing the outfits, I wish I had more stuff made when I was there.

  • Heavenly Ingredients March 18, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I had a few clothes disasters in Hoi An, quite funny though and all part of the experience.

    I had a pair of yellow ballet flats made – not only did they come back made of thick plastic but they had not so delicately scrunched all the fabric under the toes… think they were $10 and were never worn…
    So you did very well. Think Ben was brave to face a hair cut!

    what sort of camera do you use Heidi?

  • Heidi March 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Lisa – perhaps you should go back and get some more made? 😉

    Kath – the fabric was beautiful. For my dress I needed a good silk, and we went to her friend's store to get some. Ben's suit material was very nice too – she travelled to a different town to get it in black!

    Blithely Unaware – haha, I know, right? 🙂

    Matcheld – I will post them soon hopefully! We move on the 2nd (actually that is not so soon) – it will have to wait until then 🙁

    Michelle – me too!!

    Lorraine – you should! 😀

    InTolerant Chef – I know!! Bad timing. I can't wait to wear the dress! It's a chocolate brown colour, I love it.

    Lauren – how lovely, I am so glad you're enjoying them!

    Laura – yes I got a pair of sneakers made after pretty much being bullied into it haha. she was a lovely lady, just very persistent! I forgot about that until you reminded me. I ended up giving them to a kid at Baan Dada. I use a Nikon SLR D5000 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Julia @ Boredom Abounds March 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Ooh, you must post pics of the clothes you had made!

    My sister came home from Vietnam last year with a whole extra suitcase full of clothes. It was unbeliveable when she told me how much she paid for all of it!

  • Hannah March 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Yes, we must see the clothes! And more happy coconut dances 🙂

  • Heidi March 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Julia – it is SO cheap! I also bought another coat (I saw it on a mannequin and had to have it) for $37.

    Hannah – haha, I shall try – I actually have coconut juice in the freezer. Not in a big coconut, but dance worthy anyway, me thinks 🙂

    Heidi xo

  • Anna Johnston March 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    I've loved all your trip posts, but this one really rocks girl. Thanks for sharing your tailor Heildi & Ben., its fantastic to have such a recommendation…… our plans are underway for our very own trip, soon …. really soon I hope.

  • Heidi March 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Thanks, Anna! I am so pleased you found it useful 🙂 I really really hope you get to go soon too! Just finding the time off work, I guess??

    Heidi xo

  • Linh March 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Anna!

    I think you had a small misunderstand here 😀 the soup is not "bồ ngót" leaf. It's "rau má" leaf (ya, in vietnamese, "rau" = vegetable). Yeah, "rau má" is really good to cut down the heat.

    Here's about them in wikipedia
    rau ngót (bồ ngót)

    rau má

  • Heidi March 23, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Hi Linh, thank you!! I read somewhere that the leaf in the soup was called bồ ngót leaf – my bad! Thanks for clearing this up! You're a star. Either way, it was delicious!! So pleased you found my blog 🙂
    Heidi xo