Hoi An (Mar 25-29): Ha Na Tailor, Custom-Made Dresses, and a Resort-Like Hostel

Nick and I arrived in Hoi An after the sun had set, and we had to drop off the motorbike at a random tailor shop (naturally…). First of all, let me just say that Hoi An is FULL of tailors. All over the place! Everybody in the city must know (or be related to) someone who’s a tailor, and the amount of times that we were approached and asked if we were interested in doing some shopping was too much. This was only the first of many times when someone would attempt to persuade us to use their services, (plus with a 10% discount!). I had already done my research ahead of time (no surprise), and thanks to a few blogs that I had read, I already had a tailor in mind. We picked up our backpacks and ordered a Grab to take us to our hostel, which was about a 10-minute drive outside of the Old Town, but has been one of the best places I’ve ever stayed in! We were staying at Home Farm Villa and were paying 190000 dong ($11.21AUD) per night to stay in a 5-bed dorm. The place was like a resort! It had a pool and had such a nice, relaxing vibe to it, plus the family who ran it was so friendly! The villa also provided free bicycles but we just ended up renting a motorbike every day that we were there. We got ourselves settled and then decided to go for dinner because it was getting late. I was exhausted, thanks to the multiple pills I had taken throughout the day, and I still didn’t have much of an appetite but knew I needed to eat something. After finding out how expensive it would be to take a Grab into the Old Town, Nick decided that we should be dropped off somewhere halfway between the Old Town and where we were staying so that we only had to pay half the price. However, when the Grab dropped us off, we were stuck on a dark street with nothing open. We searched for places that were nearby and saw that there was a taco place about 15 minutes away, which would close at 10pm. At that point, it was 9:30. We made an agreement that if nothing was open, we’d just get a Grab into the Old Town. Luckily, the taco place WAS open, so we each got a taco and a drink for 65000 dong ($3.84).

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When we got back to our hostel, we met the other girls staying with us: Eileen from Taiwan, Sara from Spain, Joy from the Netherlands, Taylor from America, and Nicoletta from Germany. We were both so exhausted from our travel day, so we called it an early night and went to bed.

On Tuesday morning, we had big plans to go to the tailor (that was my top and only priority for the entire time in Hoi An). We had breakfast at the hostel, which was included. The best thing about hostels in Vietnam was that every single hostel had breakfast included, and they all had a menu that you could order from (apart from the hostel in Hanoi, which was a buffet). It just added a nice touch, and it was great knowing that the food was made fresh just for you!

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I had a banana pancake (which is what I ordered from every hostel that offered them), and then we rented out a motorbike to take into Hoi An. Unfortunately, we didn’t get very far and after about two minutes, the bike just stopped working. We had to call Phu, who came and fixed it for us so that we could get on our way again. The tailor that I researched was called Ha Na Tailor, so we drove there with the idea that we’d walk down the street and see what options we had. We hadn’t even parked the bike when a lady approached us, said that she had a shop, and asked if we’d like to look. She was really friendly and we figured we might as well go so that we could start comparing places. We only had to walk about 5-10 minutes away, but it was such a hot day and I was already sweating! Not a good thing for having to try on clothes… I bought a water, not knowing that every single tailor will give you a water for free every time you visit. The amount of water bottles we collected was insane! Anyway, we got to the shop (Ba Ri Tailor), and I was already so overwhelmed before even setting foot into the store. The clothes and dresses were quite beautiful, but there must have been at least 10 workers there, and it just seemed so chaotic. One girl grabbed me and another one grabbed Nick and took him to the back of the store. I was on my own and would have to deal with this by myself. The lady asked what I wanted, and I explained that I’d be getting a bridesmaid dress for my sister’s wedding. We had a colour scheme picked out, but not a style. I told her what I was thinking, and she agreed on what type of style would work best for my body-type. Then she brought out a huge binder of different fabrics and asked what colour I would want. It was so much to think about at once, and since I didn’t have any set-in-stone answers from my sister, it made it even more difficult. It was already night-time at home, so I couldn’t even contact her to ask. The lady said that a dress would be anywhere between 90 and 120 dollars US, which was alright for a custom-made dress, but still seemed a bit high. I explained that I needed to wait to hear back from my sister, so I’d have to think about it until later that day. Luckily, that got me off the hook so she stopped pushing everything on me. Nick came back to the front and I could tell that he was just as overwhelmed as I was. When we said we still wanted to look at other shops, that just made them try harder. They showed us how they were the 3rd best shop on Trip Advisor, but it made me wonder why they were still trying to pick people up off of the street. They DID seem to know what they were talking about though! I suggested that we go for lunch to get some food before going through all of the measurements and everything. They said okay, and let us go. I think both of us took the biggest breath of fresh air when we stepped outside – it was definitely a situation where I felt like I was being suffocated. We walked back over to Ha Na Tailor, which was the exact opposite of what we had experienced – no other customers, just the lady and her two helpers, and she never once tried to push anything on us. She was extremely patient, and gave us different ideas for what we wanted. Nick was getting a suit made, so they measured him first. I kid you not, they took a full page of measurements – it was insane! Then it was my turn… Because I was just getting a dress, I didn’t need as many measurements so I finished a lot quicker. Not only that, but they keep our measurements so if I ever decide I want another dress made, I can just write her, she’ll make it, and then ship it over! I’ll need to make sure I don’t drastically gain weight by eating all of the travel food though (however it might already be too late for that!). We chose colours and fabrics for the outfits, and I told her the style I wanted. This was the picture that I gave her.

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Because she quoted me 60 dollars US for one dress (so cheap!), I decided to get another one as well. There was a beautiful full-length dress on a mannequin out front, so I asked if she’d be able to do a shorter-length dress and she said yes.

We finished at about 1:30pm and she said that we could come back the next day at 3pm for our first fitting. Just over 24 hours to make three outfits? So crazy! She also suggested a restaurant that we could have lunch at, so we walked over there, only to find it closed. We settled on another restaurant nearby with air conditioning (thank goodness!), and then decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Old Town. We walked to the river and decided to take a 20-minute boat ride for 100000 dong ($5.90).

Then we entered the crazy busy streets of the Old Town, which were packed with tourists. All we wanted to do was sit at a cafe and people-watch, but all of the cafes were so expensive in the Old Town.

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We walked a bit further out of the Old Town and found a coffee shop to enjoy some refreshing iced coffee and iced tea. Then, we went to one of the beaches to do some more people-watching until the sun started to go down.

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On the way back to the hostel, when we were about the exact same distance as when the motorbike broke down the last time, the motorbike broke down again! We waited for about ten minutes, and then as soon as I wrote Phu to say that we were stuck again, I asked if he had turned on the lights and as soon as he did, the bike started working again!

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We decided that we’d ask for a different bike for the rest of our stay. We went back to the hostel to relax and visit for a few hours and then decided to check out the night market. However, once we got there (just after 9pm), a lot of the stalls were already starting to shut down. We decided to eat at a nearby restaurant, but found it difficult to find anything that would serve us because again, nearly everything would close at 10pm. Finally, we found a place that would serve us (although the waitress didn’t look too happy about it, especially when more and more people kept coming in). I decided to go for some pasta, as my stomach was craving Western food and I’m not sure it would have been able to handle anything else. The pasta was definitely my typical university meal – penne noodles with tomato sauce from a jar, but I still welcomed it. Right at 10:30, the waitress started putting bills on everyone’s tables, so we paid and kept talking to the table next to us. However, then the waitress came and said that she needed to stack all of the chairs, so we were forced to leave. We decided to head back to the hostel and visit with everyone before going to bed. Eileen has a Dutch friend who owns a vegetarian restaurant in Hoi An called Nourish, and he agreed to let her come in and work as a waitress the next day because she’s never worked in a restaurant before and wanted to see what it would be like. We all agreed that we’d go there for lunch the next day.

On Wednesday morning, we got up and asked to extend our stay. We were meant to check-out that day but liked it so much, we decided to stay for another two nights. We decided to have a relaxing morning at the hostel: have breakfast, hang out by the pool, and visit with everyone else. We all agreed to head over to Nourish at 1:30, so Nick and I got there first since everyone else was cycling. We went ahead and ordered, just because we had to leave for the tailor in about an hour. The rest of the crew joined shortly after we ordered, and we all enjoyed some really great vegetarian food! I ordered a mixed bowl of assorted foods, and it was so tasty!

Photo props to my girl, Sara ❤️

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After we finished eating, Nick and I headed back to Ha Na Tailor. Nick got to try on his suit first, and it fit like a glove. No changes were necessary, so as soon as he took the suit off, the two helpers sewed all of the buttons on. Then it was my turn… Again, both dresses fit perfectly! It’s the fastest dress shopping I’ve ever had to do!!

Nick decided to order one more suit, so she told us to come back at 10am the next day. That evening, we all decided to stay at the hostel and have some food and drinks there because some of the girls would be leaving the next day. Nick and I were in charge of the drinks, so we got a bottle of vodka for 100000 dong ($5.90)! Taylor made some amazing guacamole, and then we also had a bunch of fruits, vegetables, cheese, and crackers. It was a really nice night, and was so good to have such an awesome group of people!

That night, I didn’t sleep at all. Literally. I hadn’t been sleeping very well the last couple of nights (and kept waking up at 5am because of the rooster next door), plus for some reason, my mattress was covered in plastic, which made it very difficult to be quiet when rolling over, but also made it extremely hot at night – I felt like I was sticking to the bed! And that night was the worst of it… It was 1am, and then 2am, and then I left the room to sit outside and talk with my family, and then it was 3, and 4, and then I think I FINALLY just started dozing off, when an alarm went off just after 5 because everyone wanted to go watch the sunrise. So my short slumber was over 🙁 Everyone else left and I stayed in bed, but still couldn’t manage to fall asleep. On Thursday, we headed to the tailor again so that Nick could try on his second suit. I spent the next 30-45 minutes chatting with my sister and her fiance to see if they’d want any ties made, and kept having to send pictures of different colours. They shipped Nick’s suits back to the Netherlands, but I told them to wait to ship mine just in case my sister decided to order something the next day. We went back to the hostel to have breakfast and then hang out by the pool again. Eileen had already left, and Sara and Taylor were packing up to go. We decided to all go for one last lunch to Annen Yoga & Vegetarian at 1:30. I decided to get the eggplant in a clay pot with rice because it was Sara’s recommendation.

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After lunch, we all said our goodbyes and then headed back to the hostel. Nick and I had to decide where we’d be going the next day, so I asked Phu where a nice place would be that’s not too busy, and she suggested Quy Nhon. We looked up pictures on Google and were instantly sold – it looked gorgeous! We spent the afternoon picking out our accommodation and booking bus tickets, and did some more relaxing by the pool. That evening, we had plans to meet up with Simon and Tamara because they had arrived in Hoi An. They’re both vegetarian, so they had plans to go to a certain vegetarian restaurant (which would have been our third vegetarian restaurant in two days). First, we stopped at their hostel for a drink and then a couple of other people joined us. Then, we went searching for the restaurant but after about 15 minutes of walking, we realised it was closed. They searched another vegetarian restaurant, which also ended up being closed. Then Nick led us to a restaurant, which asked if we had a reservation. A reservation? In Vietnam? The man said that it was an all-you-can-eat menu for 400000 dong ($24.27) per person! Absolutely not! I saw that there was a burger place across the street (Chef Burger) and suggested we go there, since they’d HAVE to have a vegetarian option. They did (thank goodness!) so we finally got to eat at about 8:30pm. It was so weird being able to have burgers while listening to country music playing in the background, as I’m sure it’s the first time I’ve heard country music since I started my trip. It definitely gave me that familiar feeling of home though! By the time we finished eating, I had absolutely no energy left. I felt so bad because Simon and Tamara were really keen on going out, but I just didn’t have it in me. I was fully prepared to take a Grab home, but Nick said that he’d take me home, so we said our goodbyes and went back to the hostel.

That night, I slept so incredibly well! It was the first night that the air conditioning was on (I don’t know why we never turned it on any other night!) and it was the first time that I slept throughout the entire night in a long time. I got up and took a Grab to the tailor to be there for 9:30. My sister hadn’t gotten back to me so I decided to go ahead and ship my dresses. They each asked me why I couldn’t just carry them with me cause they were so small. They were right – it wouldn’t take much space in my backpack but I was already struggling to close it as it was, and with the combination of rain and strange leakages on the bus, my backpack always seemed to get wet and I didn’t want to take any chances. They called a courier, who was there within five minutes. She came with a scale and a box, weighed my items (1.5kg) and then asked how long I’d want the shipment to take. I could choose anywhere from a few days to six months. I decided on the 3-4 weeks option, which cost me 940000 dong ($55.46), filled out my sister’s address in Canada, and just like that, my clothes were already on their way. Such a great service! Not only that, but later that day, I received a personal email explaining everything, and was given a tracking number. I took a Grab back to the hostel, had breakfast, and I hadn’t even finished when Phu said that our bus was coming and we’d have to hurry to the main road. We gave her a big hug and then got into the vehicle to take us to the bus station. Love always

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