As promised, this is my new post for my days in Vietnam. I’ll just write a brief summary for each place I’ve visited on what I did there and what I found interesting. In truth, I didn’t do any research on the places that I went, mostly it’s just discovering while I’m there. On the last day we were in Ho Chi Minh, my boyfriend, Andy, who had just finished his exams came to join us. He planned the rest of the remaining trip in Vietnam and wouldn’t divulge any bits of it! As soon as he arrived, we immediately caught another flight and it was off to another adventure to the lovely city of Hoi An.
I had never heard the city of Hoi An until this Australian girl that we met in the Cu Chi tunnels mentioned about it. I still had no idea about Hoi An when I arrived there. I got there by flight from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang. From Da Nang, we took a chartered car to Hoi An which was about 30 to 40 mins ride. The ride was pleasant but honestly there was not much to see on the way so you could sleep all the way too if you want. Andy would still not tell me about Hoi An but with only a promise that I will surely like it.
My first glimpse of Hoi An immediately won me over. There was an ancient magical quality to this old trading port. This town was an important port between the 15th-19th century but after the French came, Da Nang became the new center and Hoi An was forgotten by the late 18th century. I guess that’s how the town had managed to stay preserved all this while with hardly any modern influences. The town had an interesting mix of architecture styles, there were the narrow but tall Vietnamese style houses, some Chinese inspired temples and even a Japanese inspired covered bridge. There were less people compared to other cities in Vietnam and less tourists and that made Hoi An even more charming. Fun fact: Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I stayed at this lovely homestay called The Corner, it was run by a Vietnamese family and the house was kept really clean. It was on the other side of the river, not in the Hoi An ancient city but it was barely a 5 min walk to cross the bridge to go over there so it’s not exactly a con. Overall, I really liked my stay in this homestay, they were nice, even though they can’t speak English very well but they tried really hard to understand the foreigners and cater to them. The breakfast they offered was pretty basic, I had bread with butter and jam everyday with fruits.
This place has an old fashioned charm that draws you in. Quaint little shops with multicoloured lanterns hanging over the roads, and it’s just pleasant to walk around to soak in the rustic atmosphere. Hoi An is such a graceful, well preserved town. You can almost imagine what life was like here a hundred years ago. There’s hardly any pollution, cars were not allowed on the streets of Hoi An and motorbikes were only allowed on specific roads and they had signs on multiple streets encouraging people to take bicycles and keep the town green.
It was in Hoi An that I tried my first Vietnamese coffee. I didn’t know coffee was a big thing in Vietnam so it was quite a surprise when they served it with a metal strainer. The coffee beans were strained in a metal strainer and the hot water actually passes through the coffee beans to slowly drop into the cup. The whole process takes a while but once you had a taste of the coffee, it’s worth it. The coffee is really strong and you can really smell and taste the coffee. I had mine with condensed milk and still, it was a bit strong. But i began to like the flavour after a few sips and added ice to make it colder.
Around sunset, the whole city will start to light up, and it’s an exquisite sight. You could take a boat ride along the river. It’s romantic and there were a few couples doing wedding shoots. You’ll start seeing more of the local people at night as they start selling stuff by the road and prepare for the night market. On the bridge, the locals will try to make you buy their lanterns to float on the water. A glance at them is even enough to make them come to you and make you buy their lanterns. It was quite a hurried experience just to cross the bridge at night because even if you’re not interested, they are very insistent.
Hoi An at night is even more amazing. I loved seeing the lanterns everywhere. I had dinner at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the river. I recommend try sitting in one of the rooftop restaurants along the river or anywhere along the river at night for a special dinner. The view is really beautiful.
After dinner, it was time for the night market! The night market opens quite early and quite late into the night and you won’t be bored just walking through the endless stalls. The stalls mostly sell tourist knick knacks but there are about 5-6 stalls that sells lanterns. It’s amazing just to see all the lanterns light up in front of their stalls, they’re so pretty!!
We couldn’t help buy a few on our last night here. Although I recommend to those who are interested to buy these lanterns, do them on your absolute last day in Vietnam! It was quite a mistake for me to buy them so early because I had about one week left to travel Vietnam and the extra luggage was quite a burden. I don’t recommend sending them through mail as the prices are super expensive and after reading online, the safety of the merchandise sent is not really guaranteed either. On the other hand, I got a good price for 4 printed lanterns in the picture above although never underestimate your power to bargain! I think I could have bargained for less but I was quite happy with what I paid already.
In Hoi An, there are some activities you could do during the day. For a fee of around 6USD or 120000VND, you could visit the oldest part of the city. The money will be used in the maintenance of the town so if you have some cash to spare, why not? I saw some places offering cooking classes, which was quite interesting. An activity (if i can call it an activity) that I absolutely recommend to anyone in Hoi An, is to make tailor made clothes. After a day walking through Hoi An, you will see rows and rows of shops offering good tailor made clothes. We initially went to a shop that was recommended by the hotel receptionist but it was too expensive, even after bargaining. So we went to the same shop that my boyfriend made his clothes last time and they did not disappoint! We were given far cheaper prices for the same amount of clothes. I went into the shop, with nothing in mind, but after seeing how much he ordered and other customers who kept coming and ordering, I placed a couple of orders too. The service is really quick, the clothes were ready in less than 24 hours. The next day we went to the shop again for some fittings and by that night, the shop delivered the ready made clothes to our hotel. If you’re in Hoi An, and want some tailor made clothes, go to this shop Bibi Silk. Just be ready with some samples or pictures on how you want your clothes to be like. I wish i had thought of it earlier but it was a good thing I didn’t do it because I would have to buy an extra bag, hahaha. :p
To summarize my trip in Hoi An, I think it’s a cute, romantic little town. Perfect for a quick weekend trip. The food here is quite diverse, just be sure to check Trip Advisor for good places to eat, as every place here is rated on Trip Advisor. Literally. If you’re looking to make tailor made clothes, this is the place to be.
This town is for you if you want to relax and enjoy the laidback atmostphere. A good escape from the city, especially after crazy Ho Chi Minh.
After 3 nights in Hoi An, it was off to Hanoi! My next post will be on Hanoi and Ha Long Bay and Phu Quoc. Until then, see you soon!