Hoi An is a small city with around 120.000 inhabitants. The old town is car-free, there’s a beach just outside the city, and it’s possible to go scuba diving on Cham Islands. These (in addition to the tailors) were the main reasons we decided to stay here for 4 days. Although the weather was a bit unstable, so we didn’t go scuba diving or to the beach, and the car-free old town had plenty of motorbikes, we’re very happy we had more than a couple of days here. The city is a lot more relaxed than most other places we visited, the people are very sweet, the local food is delicious and the old town is picturesque with it’s beautifully restored historical buildings.
Hoi An has been a major international trading port for more than 2000 years, and the architecture has plenty of foreign influences like the Japanese covered bridge, the Cantonese Assembly Hall, several temples, and hundreds of Chinese-styled shophouses. Nowadays these are mainly used by shops selling art, jewellery, ceramics etc. – and of course Hoi An’s famous tailor shops (nearly 400!!).
After reading several blog posts and lots of reviews on Tripadvisor we ended up with three tailors we wanted to check out. The first one was very large, looked very high-class, and seemed quite expensive and impersonal. The second one was smaller and felt more our style, but the staff was very pushy and started out on very high prices. The last tailor we wanted to check out was Red Rubik. We got a warm welcome from Trâm, who showed us around. They had fixed prices on everything, and these were lower than the other two tailors, even after bargaining. They had a great selection of fabrics, lots of nice designs on display, and their tailors were working upstairs so it was easy to have small adjustments made. Trâm was not pushy at all, and had no problems with us wanting to go for lunch before deciding on anything. She even showed us a few tricks on how to check the quality, in case we decided to go to a different tailor.
After a nice lunch at Secret Garden Restaurant, we of course went back to Red Rubik. We had a few ideas about what we wanted, but pretty much decided on everything there and then. We had no idea there were so many decisions to be made (fabric, lining, angle of pockets, buttons, fitting, trimming, lapel style, length, number of pockets, vents, cuffs etc. etc.). Gunnhild even designed a couple of dresses and a jacket (with a lot of help), based on photos taken in other shops and designs found in their catalogs and magazines. After a while we had more than enough, and spent the rest of the evening by the river, having dinner, a few beers and just watching life go by.
We thought we would have plenty of time to enjoy the rooftop pool at our hotel, maybe rent bikes and go to the beach take a cooking class etc., but instead we ended up shopping at two more tailors, one leather tailor making shoes and handbags and one making travel clothing from microfiber materials. And with daily fittings at three tailors, there’s not really much time left for other activities. The fitting process was very smooth. At Red Rubiks they made adjustments while we were trying on the rest of our clothes, which probably saved us a fitting or two. The shop where we bought our travel pants used a tailor that was located a couple of blocks away. When there was a small problem with one of the pants at the second and final fitting, the owner asked Fredrik to look after the shop, and took Gunnhild to the tailor to fix the problem. Sadly it was lunch time, so Fredrik was not able to sell anything while he was in charge. 😉 We were really pleased with all our clothes, and after trying them on we even ended up ordering more. In total we bought 2 dresses, 3 suits, 1 west, 1 skirt, 3 jackets, 2 t-shirts, 4 blouses, 7 shirts, 8 travel pants, 2 handbags, leather sandals and a pair of boots! Phew!
Between all the fittings we did have time for a bit of sightseeing, a lot of relaxation, loads of amazing local food and even some local wine (the white one was good, the red one not so much). We had fresh seafood at a small restaurant by the river, lunch at Streets (a restaurant training street kids and disadvantaged youth for careers in hospitality), and dinner at the famous Morning Glory Restaurant. We played pool at the bar across the street from our hotel, made travel arrangements for the rest of our trip, and even bought some christmas presents.