What to Buy in Hoi An: Leather, Crafts, and Local Treasures

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Hoi An is a shopper’s paradise. Sure, it’s best known for its beauty — its Ancient Town, its iconic Japanese Covered Bridge, and the fact that it’s a UNESCO heritage site. But the opportunities for buying items from locally-produced round straw bags to hand-tailored suits to colorful lanterns, are endless. That’s not to mention the tasty street food and Vietnamese coffee that will fuel your shopping adventure or the alluring hustle and bustle of the shopping areas.

In this article, we’ll explore What to Buy in Hoi An, whether you’re looking for souvenirs, gifts, or fresh ingredients for a barbecue at your hotel. We’ll tell you what your options are, where to find them, and how you can get the things you want at fair prices. And we’ll go through all of Hoi An’s specialties, item by item.

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Hoi An ancient town at night. Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot

Hoi An Specialties and Where to Find Them

Hoi An has a long history of traditional craftsmanship, with local artisans passing down their skills through generations. That’s why, over the years, the town has retained such a diverse shopping scene, with different parts of the town and the surrounding areas specializing in different types of items. In this section, we’ll take a look at each of Hoi An’s local specialties that will be of interest to shoppers.

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Hoi An ancient town in early morning. Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot

Leather Making

Hoi An is famous for its leather goods, including leather bags, leather shoes, alligator belts, and other stylish accessories. Real leather is not cheap, but it’s hard to find the authentic item these days, especially if it’s well-made. It’s a classy way to remind yourself of how special Hoi An is, which is why it makes a great Hoi An souvenir.

Where to Get It: Tran Phu Street is the best place for the highest-quality leather bags and other items. Make sure to dodge the kitschy souvenir shops selling leather items on the same street. There are also some less expensive but still fairly high-quality leather shops inside Hoi An’s main market at the corner of Tran Phu Street and Nguyen Hue Street.

One of the best shops for making leathers shoes of high quality is The Friendly Shoe Shop in Hoi An. Although their prices are slightly higher than other shoe making stores, the quality is great, and their shoes last much longer! They also offer delivery services, quality guarantees, and speak good english. When it comes to leather bags and accessories though, there are loads of stores with great options as you walk through the old quarter with lower prices. Don’t forget to bargain! And if you are as serious about your leather products as I am, ask for pig skin lining, instead of material lining as this lasts longer and is more sturdy. But expect to pay a little more for better quality finishes like this.”

Pro tip from Lauren Tracy Pienaar (Head of Content at Vietnam is Awesome)

Tailoring

Hoi An is the best place in Vietnam to get tailor-made clothes. Whether you want a tropical cotton mix that will allow you to comfortably suit up in humid climates or something heavier to take back home, most of the 400+ tailor shops in Hoi An will be able to meet your exact specifications. They do it, quickly, too, with most of the custom tailor options claiming they are able to make a bespoke suit within 24 or 48 hours. Of course, allowing for a little more time — and more fittings — will likely result in a slightly more form-fitting suit in the end. For more info, Vietnam is Awesome has an entire guide to tailor-made clothes in Hoi An.

Where to Get It: Nguyen Duy Hieu, Tran Hung Dao, and Tran Phu Street are the best areas to find high-quality tailoring services, from couture boutiques like the multi-location Yaly Tailor Shop to family run tailor shops like Tony the Tailor.

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A tailor in Hoi An ancient towns. Photo by Hoi An Photographer

Silk

Hoi An and the surrounding area have worked together to get the production of the softest and most beautiful silk products down to a science. You can take a day tour outside Hoi An to see factories where silk worms get the process started, and Vietnamese traditional silk emporiums like the famous Silk Village near Hoi An Old Town show off the end product. Visitors can buy silk scarves or the softest silk dresses they’ve ever felt, and they’ll make the silk sold at most silk shops seem coarse and abrasive in comparison.

Where to Get It: Hoi An Silk Village (28 Nguyen Tat Thanh) is the Promised Land for those looking to buy silk products in Hoi An. They sell true and synthetic silk, but they’re upfront about what type is which so be sure to ask before you buy.

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A silk store on Tran Phu street, Hoi An. Photo by Thuy (Source: Unsplash)
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You can find high quality silk stores on Tran Phu Street – Hoi An.

Woodwork

Elegant wood carvings are a fine art in Vietnamese culture. Rich Vietnamese households tend to be filled with ornately carved wooden furniture, wooden sculptures, and other wooden trinkets. And the Kim Bong carpentry village, which is actually a neighborhood on an island south of Hoi An old town, is one of the best places in the country to find fine woodwork. Foreign tourists might shy away from the majority of items because they’re too large or heavy to fit in a suitcase. Pro tip, many of the shops offer shipping services to send your purchases home safely, making it convenient for local buyers and tourists alike.

Where to Get It: Kim Bong Carpentry Village, on an island to the south of Hoi An’s town center. You can get there by crossing Cam Kim Bridge.

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Local Vietnamese woman carving a bamboo root. Photo by Phong Phạm

Pottery

Pottery is one of those products that, if you make it yourself, becomes an incredibly personal gift or memorable souvenir. That’s why going to Thanh Ha Pottery Village, a quiet neighborhood on the west of Hoi An, is such a great shopping opportunity. The Village has a small admission fee of about 20,000 VND, but it gives you access to a quiet sanctuary away from the city.

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Sun baking clay bowls. Photo by Max Do.

The villagers you’ll see are extremely friendly, almost like Disneyland Cast Members, and they’ll invite you over to make pottery with them on a wheel in front of one of their houses. Whether you make your own vase, mug, or flute, you can take it for free. We’d recommend leaving a few dollars tip, though, because the place is pretty magical.

Where to Get It: Thanh Ha Pottery Village, about 2.5 kilometers west of Hoi An’s Old Town.

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Pottering in Hoi An. Photo by Max Do
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Handcrafted clay animals – Popular gift in Hoi An. Photo by Max Do.

Lanterns

Colorful lanterns made from paper and decorated with elegant nature-inspired designs are one of the loveliest symbols of ancient East Asian culture. Nguyen Phuc Chu and several other streets near the Thu Bon River running through Hoi An are filled with many shops selling the lanterns. When the sun sets and the soft yellow light from the lanterns fills the air and reflects off the water, Hoi An is at its most beautiful. It’s a shopping setting straight out of a fairy tale, and it’s one of the most iconic Hoi An souvenirs you can get. The lanterns make great gifts to bring home, as well, especially since they fold up and weigh almost nothing so will be easy to pack for the plane ride.

Where to Get It: Nguyen Phuc Chu, Le Loi, and Nguyen Thai Hoc Streets.

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Lanterns in Hoi An // Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot

Jewelry

Hoi An has lots of beautiful jewelry. You can get the cheap stuff at the Hoi An night market, but the high-quality jewelry that’s more or less unique to the town is found in brick-and-mortar shops. Marble jewelry in particular is much cheaper than it would be in most countries because the famous Marble Mountains are located nearby. The pieces made using pearls, silver, and gemstones are likely to cost less than you’re used to as well, though, and the craftsmanship is impeccable. Keep an eye out for straw jewelry, a Hoi An special.

Most of the jewelry shops in Hoi An even offer custom design services for one-of-a-kind pieces, making them into incredible Hoi An souvenirs or gifts.

Where to Get It: No specific location, though we’d recommend Bac Viet on 10 Pham Hong Thai Street.

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A jewelry street vendor in Hoi An. Photo by Hoi An Photographer.

NGO Products

In recent decades, Hoi An has begun to specialize in sustainable crafts businesses that help the local community. For example, Reaching Out Vietnam is a Hoi An-based nonprofit established in 2000 that employs solely artisans with disabilities and helps them sell their products at their store on Tran Phu Street. There’s also Lifestart, another organization employing disabled locals and selling their crafts at their shop on Phan Chu Trinh.

Besides crafts, there are a lot of organizations with restaurants that only hire disadvantaged local staff. Through doing so, they create a way for those without as much opportunity as some to make a good life for themselves. Some such restaurants include:

  • Blue Dragon at 46 Bach Dang
  • Streets at 17 Le Loi
  • The White Lotus at 11 Phan Boi Chau

The crafts make fantastic gifts, especially because there is always a good story behind them.

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Reaching Out store in Hoi An. Photo by Reaching Out

Art

History buffs and art lovers alike will be fascinated by the many galleries showcasing local artists in Hoi An. Modern Vietnamese art is very distinct, combining traditional Vietnamese style art, French and modern Chinese art, and influences drawn from the natural beauty and historic architecture of Hoi An. Paintings make incredible Hoi An souvenirs because they will hang on your wall at home forever and remind you of the beauty you experienced in Vietnam.

Where to Get It: Phan Boi Chau and Nguyen Thai Hoc Streets have the most galleries, although they’re elsewhere too.

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A street painter in Hoi An. Photo by Hoi An Photographer.

Street Food

It’s not exactly shopping, but trying tasty street food that’s a Hoi An specialty is a commercial activity that will get you through your shopping spree in a delicious way. Snacking on a sandwich, sampling tropical cold-pressed juices, tucking into some cao lau (a Hoi An specialty), and sipping a Vietnamese coffee are also effective ways to immerse yourself in Hoi An’s culture. For more info, read this entire guide of great food experiences in Hoi An.

Where to Get It: The Hoi An Central Market at the corner of Nguyen Hue and Tran Phu, as well as Phan Chau Trinh, Nguyen Thai Hoc, and Nguyen Hoang Street. Although these are some of the best food streets in Hoi An, you’ll find street food stalls throughout the town.

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A woman selling chè Hội An in Hoi An Ancient Town. Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot
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Street food vendor in Hoi An ancient town. Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot

Finding the Best Prices and Bargaining

Because Hoi An is in Vietnam, the prices quoted to you will likely be similar to or less than what you’re used to seeing for a similar item in your home country. For that reason, it might be tempting to just pay the initial price. And if money is no object for you, that’s fine. Be aware, though, that most shops in Hoi An, ESPECIALLY the ones in the Central Market or Hoi An Night Market, are open to bargaining. You may even be able to knock the price down 50-75% some of the time. Check out this guide of some local markets in Hoi An for more of what to expect.

Not only is bargaining a good way to save money, but it can be fun and, ultimately, satisfying. Showing that you’re not going to be taken advantage of by haggling is seen as a way to demonstrate self-respect in cultures that do it, and you can catch a glimpse of that by trying it, too.

As for where you can find the best prices, you should try to stick to the “where to get it” locations recommended in this guide when visiting Hoi An. You’ll probably see all these kinds of products everywhere — carved wooden items at the Hoi An Night Market, lanterns for sale on Tran Phu Street, and so on — but the best price-to-quality ratio on the items will be found in the spots that specialize in selling them.

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Clothing store in Hoi An. Photo by VIA Ambassador Etienne Bossot

Wrapping Up

From the cobblestone streets of the Ancient Town to the bustling Night Market, Hoi An is an incredible place to shop. It specializes in so many types of goods that you can get all your friends and family back home something different while still getting a few unique Hoi An souvenirs for yourself. And, if you make an effort, you can do it for a reasonable price.

If you’re interested in visiting Hoi An, check out the Vietnam is Awesome Sunset Hoi An Tour! The guide will point out several shopping destinations if you ask them to. Plus, it’s an opportunity to be introduced to Hoi An at its prettiest.

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Dustin Kemp
Content Writer - Vietnam Is Awesome
Dustin moved to Ho Chi Minh City in 2014 and quickly fell in love with the culture and people of Vietnam. He brings his passion to his writing and planning as the Content Manager at Vietnam Is Awesome.

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