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Suit in Hoi An
Suit in Hoi An

Buying a Suit in Hoi An – Vietnam

Note: Nobody can really seem to agree if buying a suit in Hoi An is a good idea or not. The subject divides opinion so I will just tell you my experience. 

Faced with the best and worst dressed mannequins in Vietnam I found myself unable to answer a simple question. Do I need a suit? Right now, of course, I don’t. I live out of my backpack and I can honestly say I have never felt very under dressed in South East Asia compared to many locals and other backpackers.

So why can’t I bring myself to say no? Of course it’s the price but also something Kelly said, “We are back in England in a few months, remember the suit you bought last time you were home, you wore it all the time.” She was right, the last time I was in the UK I went to 5 weddings, 3 job interviews, a funeral and I also used it for a temporary job I picked up for a few months.

The Old Suit from 2010 - Featuring Kelly growling
The Old Suit from 2010 – Featuring Kelly growling

The chances are I’m going to need a suit on more than one occasion, one that I perhaps keep in England as that’s where my social calendar seems to demand it. (Even though I’m only there for a couple of months at a time.)

If you don’t already know Hoi An, it is  a small riverside city in central Vietnam that is full of clothes shops. Every other storefront is either suits or dresses of varying qualities. After a lot of thought I decided I would check out some of the stores and get a good idea of the prices and the quality of suits on offer. After a couple of hours looking around the shops I was still none the wiser, it was just so hard to imagine these rolls of material as a fancy looking suit.

I decided to read up online and other peoples experiences were so varied I ended up more confused than when I started. I then found a handy guide to buying a suit in Hoi An on the wikitravel page which gave me some great pointers.

I dragged Kelly out to help. I really still did not know what I was doing and she didn’t either to be honest. After a visit to a few shops and still feeling uneasy we wandered into a shop called Aobaba. The shop itself was little different from most the others, maybe a little tidier. A lady handed us a bottle of water on our way in,which was a nice little touch. The staff presented themselves and the suits very well and were very helpful which made me feel a lot more comfortable.

Vietnamese spring rolls
We never need an excuse to indulge in the spring rolls.

We looked at a few fabrics from different price ranges (full suits $50-$250) and there was one at $75 that stood out to me, it even seemed to look nicer than some of the more expensive ones. We decided to go grab a drink and some spring rolls and made a decision. While we ate I checked the trip advisor for Aobaba on my phone. There were 28 reviews: 27 positive and 1 negative written in French which I couldn’t translate. That sealed it, I was buying a suit.

The Slow Process of Buying a Suit in Hoi An

We went back and spoke to a young lady called Wendy. I asked for the material I liked and she showed me pictures of different types of suits. I had seen a jacket on a mannequin which I really liked. When she asked nearly every one of her questions about pockets, lapel , buttons I just referred her to the jacket I liked.

Wendy measured me and Kelly could not help but make fat jokes. Wendy continued trying to upsell every other item I could possibly need: “Another Suit? Second pair of pants? How many shirts? Shoes? Belt? Ties?” I decided to wait and see how the suit turned out before making any bigger commitments. We paid our $40 deposit and Wendy told us to come back by noon the next day for a fitting.

First Fitting

I honestly did not know what to expect, I had seen some pretty sub-standard suits in Hoi An. I had also seen some great looking ones. As we walked in Wendy appeared out of nowhere, handed us a bottle of water each and took us toward my suit-to-be. After putting it on and looking in the mirror I knew I had made a good choice. There were certain alterations to be made but Wendy was on it, marking the suit exactly where she thought it needed adjusting. At this point I trusted her, she seemed to know what she was doing and she had done a great job so far. I decided I would buy a fitted shirt to go with my new shirt. I picked a fabric I liked in the $17 range and I was again asked to return the next day.

buying a suit in hoi an
Wendy helping me while buying a suit in Hoi An

Second Fitting

At this point I knew I was happy. We wandered in and took our water and I proceeded to get changed. Wendy had nailed it, I really couldn’t find something to complain about. I looked along the stitching and to me it appeared well done. It was everything I had hoped for and I looked a million times better than I did in my old suit that came straight off the rack at a similar price.
I enquired about shipping it to England but even on a slow boat it would have cost close to $50. Wendy said she could pack it up small and safe for me and it now lives all packaged up at the bottom of my backpack. I left very satisfied with my decision to buy a suit. Reading some of the horror stories online I realise it could have been luck, I may have found the best tailors in Hoi An. It seemed to be the best value anyway, for $75 it is better than I could have wished.

hoi an tailors
Happy With my Suit

Not to be outdone, Kelly immediately started dress hunting, although she paid much less than I did at $20. I had also got some glasses made to my prescription as my others had fell from a Tuk Tuk in Koh Lanta, Thailand. These set me back $70 which I was thrilled at considering what my lenses alone would usually cost.

Buying a Dress in Hoi An
Kelly Buying a Dress in Hoi An


Would I recommend buying a suit in Hoi An? (click to expand)


Would I recommend buying a suit in Hoi An? (click to expand)

YES IF:

  • You have time to shop around and a few days for fittings.
  • You see something that you genuinely like.
  • You are willing to take a risk without knowing how it will turn out.
  • You will actually wear it.
  • You always wanted a fitted suit but never wanted to pay ridiculous prices.

NO IF:

  • You have particular high standards when it comes to suits. I admit I don’t have enough experience to judge them against the best of the best but I imagine they are not quite up there.
  • It’s gonna leave a big hole in your travel budget
  • You have a nice suit at home that you never wear
  • You don’t have room to carry it

Further Reading

Trip Advisor Reviews – A great place to find peoples first hand experiences of buying a suit in Hoi An.
Aoababa information

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About Lee Carter

Born and raised in Accrington, UK, Lee has ventured far beyond his hometown, traveling throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, North America and New Zealand. He is the co-founder of Global Goose and as well as writing the occasional rant he can be found tweaking the code and taking photos of amazing things around the world. Lee and Kelly are currently backpacking around Southeast Asia and they have no plans to stop their "Gap Decade" anytime soon.

2 comments

  1. I am in Hoi An now and things are not that cheap. I think if you want something custom, you are better off going to Bangkok. The astronomical rise in the US dollar has made everything more expensive here!

    Plus the suits do not really look good.

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