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5 Best Destinations for Cheap Tailoring

When you picture a backpacker in your head, do you think of someone dressed top to toe in tailor-made threads or somebody in hippie pants, flip-flops, and a vest that has stains for days?

Probably the latter, right? But it doesn't have to be that way.

The Shanghai fabric market is a destination for cheap tailoring in China.
There are lots to choose from at the Shanghai fabric market.

When you travel to parts of the world like Southeast Asia and Central America, knowing that your dollar will buy you so many more tasty meals and hostel beds than it ever would at home is a great feeling.

But that's not the only thing it can buy. There are places all over the world that are hubs for high-quality tailoring from a cheap tailor.

These places often make great products for top fashion houses, specializing in pants, pocket squares, dress shirts, and other formal wear for special events.

Never again will you have to settle for a standard size and simple hems!

Whether you want to invest in a sharp suit for when you return home after a gap year, a wedding dress for that special occasion that you can picture in your head but can't find on the rack, or simply some hippie pants that fit better, try out these destinations for size.

Hoi An, Vietnam

A typical tailor's shop in Hoi An.
A typical tailor's shop in Hoi An. (Image source)

Hoi An is truly the mecca of cheap tailoring, and backpackers spend extended time there to ensure they can make the most of the tailors that line every street in this quaint coastal town in Vietnam.

Ask your hostel owners to recommend specific tailors, as quality can vary across the town. I opted for a place called Lana, and I was not disappointed.

I chose to have a grey hound's tooth bespoke suit with pink silk lining, which cost me around $150.

This is the best value I have found, including excellent customer service and a fantastic final product for the best price.

I am particular about how clothes fit and returned seven times for re-fittings. The staff didn't roll their eyes or demand more money, and I got exactly the suit I wanted.

They even shipped it back to London for me, so I didn't have to navigate the local postal system.

Suits are just the beginning in Hoi An. You can have tailor-made dresses, winter coats, shoes, jumpsuits, shirts, and virtually any other item of clothing you can think of.

Jaipur, India

An Indian tailor, hard at work.
An Indian tailor, hard at work. (image source)

Jaipur is a city in Rajasthan that is on a well-trodden backpacker path. While taking camel safaris and visiting ancient forts in the region, why not invest a little cash in having some tailor-made clothing?

This is precisely what I expect to do in Jaipur this December, as many Indians have reliably informed me that this is the place to grab a well-made bargain.

Indian clothes can be beautifully intricate, and it's well worth opting for something traditional, which you can always have tailored so that it's more wearable for you.

For guys, a Sherwani, a long jacket with an upturned collar, is a statement choice, while women might opt for a Sari or Salwar Kameez.

Panama City, Panama

If you've ever read the book or seen the movie “The Tailor of Panama,” you might have an inkling that this underrated travel destination in Central America is a great spot for picking up some new clothes.

And if you want to visit the *real* tailor of Panama who fitted Pierce Brosnan for a custom suit while filming the movie, head to La Fortuna on Via Espana.

You'll be taken into a back room where you can browse hundreds of fabrics and get something made precisely for your measurements.

Something extra great about this place is that they don't charge anything extra for larger sizes.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai is a fantastic city for shopping, but there is one place you should be headed if you want to invest in some high-end threads: the South Bund Fabric Market.

With masses of textiles, shouting clothes makers, and hordes of tourists, visiting this market isn't a relaxing experience – but it's authentic to Shanghai.

If you commit to the craziness of it all, you'll end up with a garment you love.

This is one spot where the sellers will try to make some extra dollars from you, so know your price and stick to it if you want to grab a bargain.

As well as finding cotton materials for shirts, dresses, and suits, you'll also find some beautiful wool blends and cashmere for something luxurious.

Budapest, Hungary

Another part of the world that budget travelers should consider visiting if they want a good tailor is Eastern Europe.

Its affordable prices will make your money go further than in pricier Western Europe, not just when it comes to eating out and accommodation but for tailor-made clothing too.

Nyugati Square is where many tailors and shoemakers are situated, so walking around the neighborhood and comparing fabrics and prices across different stores is easy.

Believe it or not, you can find a new suit for as little as $80 in this area.

Good luck on your mission to find the perfect fit with cheap, tailored clothing!

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

Breck Lewis

Thursday 22nd of October 2015

I really like how you said that, "The staff didn’t roll their eyes or demand more money, and I got exactly the suit I wanted." Everyone is really picky about how they want their clothes tailored and if your spending the money to do it; you should be able to ask for whatever you want without getting the staff upset with you. Last week I went to get my suit tailored and we were there for a while just explaining how I wanted it. When I got it I was 100% satisfied because it was exactly how I described it. Thanks for posting this great article, it gave me some ideas about my suit.

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