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Is it cheaper to fly internationally to buy your next suits, luggage, etc?


Two days ago, I went to a high end tailor for the first time in my life, Dung Tailor in Saigon, Vietnam. I got measured and ordered a shirt and a pair of pants. Cost: 1,020,000 VND, or a little more than $50 USD total.

This reminds me of when I was in Chengdu, China five years ago. In Chengdu, I bought a beautiful red leather suitcase for $100 USD, and got shirts and shoes for about $5 each.

So, would it be cheaper for you to fly to another country to buy your items? Here's the calculator I'd use:

1. Figure out what you're going to pay on clothing, shirts, shoes, and hand-crafted gifts in the next year.

2. Assume you can get that at between 40% and 70% off in Vietnam, China, or a relevant part of South America if you live in a Western country.

The First Time Traveler's Guide to East Asia


Making your first trip to East or Southeast Asia? Wondering where to go?

Okay, I've spent significant time in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. I can weigh in on those places for you. I haven't been to Macau, Laos, Burma, the Philippines, North Korea, or Indonesia yet - of them, I've heard great things about the Philippines and Indonesia in particular, but I can't comment.

So, some thoughts about every country -

Japan - Still the crown jewel of Asia, Japan has something for everyone. There's ancient and hyper-modern culture mixed all together. There's amazing technology, high levels of development, basically nonexistent crime, ridiculously high standards of quality and hygiene, and the people are friendly and polite. English isn't widely spoken, but the Japanese take being good hosts seriously and you'll be fine in any major city. You can find quite literally anything here - amazing camping and mountains and forests and oceans, or hyper-developed space-age districts in cities.

The downside of Japan - It's fucking expensive. Like, really really expensive. I hate spending money on eating and sleeping - every dollar I put into basic "staying alive" stuff is less money to be invested in commerce or philanthropy, or learning, or having unique experiences that are more interesting than... well, eating and sleeping. Yet, eating and sleeping is brutally expensive here. If you're not a veteran traveler and don't have friends here, you'll be hard pressed to spend less than $100/day in Japan. If you slum it hard, you can maybe get down to $50/day. Everything's ridiculously expensive, ranging from 400% to 2,000% higher than still-developing countries in Asia.

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