Hoi An is by far my favourite city in Vietnam. The accommodation, weather, and food we experienced during our few days here were all amazing and provided the perfect backdrop to explore this beautiful place.
As soon as we arrived from Hue, we were warmly welcomed by the hosts of our lovely Airbnb homestay. I am biased but I think this is the best place to stay in Hoi An! Our rooms were huge, clean and spacious and our host family were wonderful. We were given a comprehensive map and guide to our surrounding area as well as free bicycles to use during our stay. Bicycles are a great way to get around Hoi An city; you’re no more than a 15 minute ride away from anywhere you want to be and you feel as if you fit into your surroundings a lot better than you would on a scooter or in a taxi.
On our first morning in Hoi An we parked our bicycles on the outskirts of town and stopped by one of the Hoi An Roastery cafes on our walk in. The coffee is really good here and there’s plenty of choice as to how you want it served!
You have to buy a ticket to enter the Hoi An Ancient Town, they’re 120,000VND each. The money goes towards the upkeep of the Old Town, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. There are various check-points stationed around the city so you will need to buy one, but it lasts for the duration of your stay.
There are five detachable strips on your ticket which each allow you one-time entry into one of the tourist destinations in town. With 22 highlighted places to visit, choose carefully! We were advised to visit the Cantonese Assembly Hall, Duc An Old House, Japanese Bridge, Museum of Folk Culture, and the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall. All the attractions were interesting, particularly the Duc An Old House, and we actually got a bonus visit to enter the Quan Thang Old House due to the Folk Museum not cutting our strips when we entered.
The most ornate attractions were the Assembly Halls. The Quang Trie Cantonese Hall is one of the most visited historical buildings in Hoi An, built by Chinese merchants in 1885. The hall itself is beautifully decorated, but the gardens to the rear of the hall are the main attraction, featuring a huge dragon fountain made from pottery.
We walked around Hoi An for hours during the day – it reminded me a little bit of New Orleans with its architecture and decorations. At night however, is when Old Town Hoi An really comes to life.
My feeble iPhone camera was really not able to do this town justice, but believe me when I say it’s stunning! There are colourful lanterns lining the streets everywhere you turn and candles being floated on the river in their hundreds. Hoi An centre is a hive of activity and lights during the evening.
In addition to looking beautiful, local people hang lanterns outside their properties in the hope they will them bring good fortune.
They say that anyone that has been to Hoi An will always offer you three recommendations – a restaurant, a tailor, and a lantern shop. It is very true! One of the reasons we loved Hoi An so much was actually due to one of its restaurants – Nu Eatery. We had read some great Hoi An Tripadvisor reviews about the place and headed there around 8pm on our first night. The place was fully booked (a good sign) and we waited 20 minutes for a table. We almost went somewhere else but I’m so glad we stayed!
Nu Eatery’s menu consists of only about 12 different dishes, mostly small plates such as salads and soups. My boyfriend Lewis ordered the pork buns and ended up having three portions of them because they were so good. I had an avocado salad and squash soup. I’d never eaten an avocado salad that made me want to lick the plate after eating it before, it was an new and delicious experience! Nu Eatery was probably the best place we ate during our time in Vietnam, we ended up going twice in three days.
As for the Hoi An tailors recommendation, Lewis did get a suit made. When in Rome! We had a look in a few shops before settling on ‘Kimmy’s’. You’re able to choose the material of your suit and lining as well as the design and ultimately the customer service and price of this shop made it the right decision. 48 hours and four fittings later, Lewis had a tailored black suit for $150USD. I know nothing about suits but could feel that the quality of the material was nice and saw that it fit really well.
An additional bonus to Hoi An is that there are lovely beaches nearby. Our Hoi An guest house was in-between the Old Town and the coast and we headed for Hoi An Beach, or ‘Hidden Beach’, following the directions our host had given us. The 20 minute bike-ride was surprisingly scenic – we rode through huge rice fields dotted with water buffalo. When we arrived at the beach we were allowed to park our bikes for free and use the sun-loungers at one of the bars, provided we bought a drink. Beers were 15,000VND, the equivalent of £0.50.. so we were more than happy to partake.
I hope you can now appreciate why I think Hoi An is so incredible. You have to visit Hoi An during any trip to Vietnam in my eyes. If you are planning to visit Hoi An, please let me know so I can drop you a few more tips, including the details of our homestay or where to stay in Hoi An.
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