Southeast Asia is packed with would-be Buddhists, travelers on a real spiritual mission espousing lives of detachment from material desires. These folks usually walk away with just the "one suit, two shirts, trousers, and a tie" package when they leave Hoi An. Shopaholics wander the streets in a daze.
Hoi An is a silk mecca. The quality and selection are the best in the country, and you'll have more peace and quiet here during a fitting than in Hanoi. Silk suits are made to order within 24 hours for about $35; cashmere wool is $45. There are countless shops, and the tailoring is all about the same quality and fast. A good way to choose a shop is by what you see out front -- if you see a style you like, it'll help with ordering. Make sure you take the time to specify your style, down to the stitch (it can come back looking pretty cheap without specifics). Try any of the shops along Le Loi; to recommend one in particular would be like recommending one snowflake over another. The tailoring is very fast but not always great, so plan to have two or three fittings. Be choosy about your cloth, or go to the market and buy it yourself (Hoi An Cloth Market is at 01 Tran Phu St.), and haggle. It's not a bad idea to bring an actual suit or piece of clothing that you'd like a copy of. Get measurements from friends and relatives for good gifts.
There are also skilled cobblers who make custom shoes at affordable rates. Find them near the market on Tran Phu Street.
Tran Phu Street is lined with art galleries and good pottery and woodcarving vendors. Along the river, lots of places sell blue-and-white ceramics. However cumbersome your finds are, such as those lovely Chinese lanterns, shopkeepers are masters at packing for travel and to fit in your luggage, and will do so before you've even agreed on a price or decided to buy. Haggle hard.
Hand-painted Chinese scrolls make a great souvenir, and down the street from the Hung Long Art Gallery , Mr. Ly Si Binh (21 Nguyen Thai Hoc St.; tel. 0510/391-0721) can script anything from peace or determination to your best buddy's name in Chinese (if it's wrong, he won't know the difference anyway). And it's fun to watch cheery Mr. Binh at work.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, most stores listed here are open from 8am to late evening (around 9pm), but hours can and do vary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.