Silk is a natural protein fiber produced from the silkworm’s cocoon, and some forms can be woven into textiles. It takes around 3,000 silkworms consuming 104 kilograms of mulberry leaves to produce two pounds (one kilogram) of silk; the process lasts over three days. The result is a material that is light weight, soft and very absorbent, making it an ideal fabric for warmer countries.
Silk was once considered extremely luxurious and thus available only to noble families. Now the fabric is widely used, and beautiful silk products are affordably to anyone. They make great souvenirs. It will cost you at least VND$70,000 for a meter of silk and at least VND$100,000 per meter for premium kinds. Be weary of buying silk for prices lower than that since they can be of questionable quality.
The three main cities to buy silk in Vietnam are:
Hoi An is known as a tailoring mecca. The old town itself has around 400 tailor shops dotted along its alleyways. If you want to buy silk here, head over to The Cocoon Silk for a very educational and enjoyable shopping experience. The owner is extremely knowledgeable and helpful here, teaching you all about the silkworms and processes. There is even a display where you can watch young live silkworms feed on mulberry leaves and older ones spin their cocoons. There is a wide variety of silk displayed on racks, priced and graded, so no bargaining is involved. You don’t have to worry about authenticity here either as the silk test will be done right in front of your eyes — a flame is held to the fabric, but it will not ignite and only giving off a smell of burnt hair.
The Cocoon Silk, 40 La Hoi, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam, +84 235 3962 979
The Hoi An Cloth Market is also a silk dream come true, and you will find some of the finest silk in Vietnam on sale. There is wide range of silk to be bought here; you can later take it to a tailor to create your dream silk outfit. Check out BeBe Tailor who can produce just about anything.
Alternatively, head over to the Hoi An Silk Village, once a silk hub in Hoi An 300 years ago involved in the silk trade. Now you will find dozens of local artisans manufacturing and weaving silk into garments and tapestries using ancient looms. You can buy the material or any finished product. This is also a resort and restaurant all in one.
28 Nguyen Tat Thanh, Hoi An, Quang Nam, Vietnam, +84 2353 921 144