Too fast, not too furious

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In Hoi An, mannequins in billowy evening gowns, slim pants, and smart jackets are like enchantresses.

The mannequins, and the salespeople who follow you down the streets, catalogues in hand, offer an instant designer makeover to your wardrobe.

Once a buzzing port town, Hoi An has been recognized as Vietnam's most charming tourist town. It was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, and tourism has been a booming business ever since.

Apart from being a unique architectural immersion, Hoi An is also a giddy shoppers' paradise. Backpackers and vacationers alike are beckoned by world-class tailors promising custom-made clothing in a day or less.

Not only can you get perfect replicas of any designer dress that catches your fancy, but also have beautiful ao dais, the traditional Vietnamese dress, stitched up and ready to wear in barely two to three hours.

Hundreds of locals and foreigners swear by the quality and record-breaking turnaround time of Hoi An's tailors. The tailors even come to your hotel for fittings and delivery at no extra charge.

"If the tailors' stock of fabric doesn't impress, hop over to the Hoi An's cloth market. Vietnamese chiffon and silk are among the most popular fabric, and sometimes cost much more than the tailoring," said Tran Thai Do, owner of the famous A Dong silk shop.

Hurb Steward, who's vacationing in Hoi An, said that besides the satisfactory product, the friendliness of tailors ensures that he keeps coming back for more.

"Unending catalogues in tailor shops can often make your head spin," says Tu Nguyen, a Hoi An native. "To avoid making a bad decision and falling prey to the price traps, explore the market and visit as many shops as possible before making up your mind."

Thankfully, price-wise, the tailoring capital of the country is a far cry from Milan. For the quality and speed of delivery, getting that perfect outfit is a bargain in Hoi An.

Most shops charge from between VND300,000 to VND700,000 (US$15 to $35) for casual or office wear and around VND1 million for evening gowns.

Last year, Bao Khanh, a tailoring shop at 101 Tran Hung Dao Street was voted the best in terms of quality goods and service in Vietnam and second in the world's top 25 shops, according to British Sunday Times magazine.

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