Hoi An is a lovely village about half an hour from the port town of Nha Trang in Vietnam.
It is nice to see a preserved Vietnamese area that hasn’t succumbed to the modern building and development that is everywhere in Vietnam.
They say that Vietnam has a new national bird. The crane…..The building crane. They are everywhere.
That is why it was a pleasant surprise to see an area that felt like authentic old Vietnam.
Hoi An has historic houses, quaint bridges, silk embroidery factories and museum to the indigenous people of the area, the Cham. There are temples, pagodas, and Chinese-style meeting houses dotted all over Hoi An ,they are beautiful.
The city of Hoi An used to be home to one of the most important trading ports in all of Southeast Asia. Exotic spices and intricate ceramics passed through this city for centuries, bringing wealth and recognition to the entire region.
These days Hoi An is still well-known but today it doesn’t trade in spices or ceramics — today it trades in tourism. Sure it may be more westernized than other parts of Vietnam, but even hundreds of years after Hoi An lost its prestige as a major port city, Hoi An retained its charm as well as its original architecture, leading UNESCO to name the Old Town as a World Heritage site.
It’s full of weathered-looking buildings, intricately-detailed Chinese assembly houses, and endless strings of colorful lanterns.
The silk embroidery factory is an interesting place.
You can see everything from the silk worms and spinning and dying the silk to the finished products.
To watch the women working on the embroidery is fascinating. They are given a photograph and sketch it lightly on the material and start the embroidery. Their work is so fine and intricate. The finished product, the framed silk embroidery, can look so realistic that I mistook many for photographs.
While you are not allowed to photograph in the embroidery studio I was given permission to take photographs for my blog.
The only thing that concerned me was the health of these women doing the fine embroidery. They sit for hours day, every day, peering at delicate material inches from their face. I’m sure their eyesight would be affected. The shop manager said they are well paid and choose to work here because their talent is valued. If they had no talent in embroidery they would be working in a noodle shop for much less money. But he made no comment about how long they can keep working or any retirement health plan.
There are the usual shops in Hoi An, as well as the bars, excellent restaurants, noodle shops, and tourist merchandise shops , but most fascinating are the tailors.
There are many fine tailors making suits and dresses in all manner of materials especially silk. Many of the tailor and dressmaker shops had long dresses, formal dresses, evening wear in literally every imaginable colour of the rainbow, in every design you can think of.
I have two formal events coming up in the next twelve months that I would like special dresses for.
have searched many stores in Australia so I the styles and an average price guide. I Was very impressed with the quality of the samples and the price was less than a quarter of the prices at home.
If I had two days to get measured and fitted. I would have bought one.
There are so many tailors in Hoi An that competition has become fierce. So shop around and have fun getting some custom clothes made by the many in-house tailoring teams. If you do decide to get something made, dont pay in advance. Tell the tailor to use strong & best quality thread. Show the tailors a sample of the stitching & lining you expect, and tell them clearly that you only want to commission them if they can replicate the style & quality,if it is not as good as this they will not be paid.
We didn’t have time to get measured and choose a pattern so instead we placated our fashion bug by buying some beautiful of the hanger ( or out of the plastic bag) tops. A little bartering and we had someone beautiful tops each for $5, and some of the nicest touristy t-shirts we saw in Vietnam.
The silk embroidery can run expensive for a large framed piece but you can purchase all sorts of embroidery pieces, tablecloths, runners, cushion covers, handbags
If you are in this area of Vietnam you must visit Hoi An, we both enjoyed it so much