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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 inexpensive, high-quality tailoring.

Whether you want to invest in a sharp suit for when you return home after a gap year, a dress 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.

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

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is truly the mecca of cheap tailoring, and backpackers spend extended amounts of 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 suit with pink silk lining, and it cost me around $150.

I am particular about the way clothes fit and went back 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 took care of shipping 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.

An Indian tailor, hard at work.
An Indian tailor, hard at work. Image source.

Jaipur, India

Jaipur is a city in Rajasthan that is on a well-trodden backpacker path.

While you are taking camel safaris and visiting ancient forts in the region, why not invest a little cash in having some tailor-made clothing?

This is exactly what I expect to do when I am in Jaipur this December, as I've been reliably informed by many Indians 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 spend some time browsing hundreds of fabrics and then get something made precisely to 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 in general, but there is one place in the city where 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 exactly 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 that 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 be able to find some beautiful wool blends and cashmere for something luxurious.

Budapest, Hungary

Another part of the world that budget travelers should consider visiting is Eastern Europe.

Its affordable prices will make your money go further than in pricierxz Western Europe, and 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 it is easy to walk around the neighborhood and compare fabrics and prices across different stores.

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

Good luck on your mission to find cheap, tailored clothing!

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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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