Hoi An has seen a huge development in the last 15 to 20 years. This little colonial town in central Vietnam is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the richest and most visited destinations in the country. However, despite the tourism, Hoi An still manages to keep its interest, charm, beauty and traditions intact. We visited Hoi An after our three day trip with the Da Lat Easy Riders, and a short stay in Nha Trang, and stayed in Hoi An for 11 days – the single longest stay within our trip.
Have your clothes cloned by a highly skilled tailor
Hoi An is famous for being home to several hundreds of tailor shops – many travellers visiting Hoi An end up buying new tailor-made suits or dresses, or have their existing clothes ‘cloned’ by very skilled artisans. We haven’t ventured into the chase for the perfect tailor, but we understood that prices may vary a great deal, and some tailors (or tailor shops) are really worth the extra money. We’ve been warned that cheap prices often reflect even cheaper quality. However, make sure you visit the tailors market – it’s a covered market near the street market. These tailors may be able to give you lower prices because unlike the more famous tailors in the old town, they don’t have real shops to pay rent and bills for, and their ‘business’ costs are much lower.
Eat, Eat, Eat
Hoi An has one of the best cuisines in all Vietnam. The most popular dishes are Fried Hoi An Won ton, Cao Lau (noodles with pork and herbs) and White Rose (dumplings with pork and shrimp), but there are also other delicious recipes, including some aubergine based recipes, like aubergine in clay pot, which we learnt at a cooking school near the river front. For great food try one of the many food stalls in the old town. Cao Lau at its best is found at the street market – Just don’t miss it!
Also, make sure you visit Tam Tam café for some outstanding pastry (yes, thank the French for that!), and if you drop by the Thuan Y restaurant on the river front, please say hi to Plum, her brothers and sisters. Oh, before I forget: don’t miss Son, a pretty restaurant along the river, on the way to the beaches: great atmosphere, great food, and great coffee and fruit shakes!
White sand beaches
A few kilometres away from Hoi An there are a couple of white sand beaches to be enjoyed: Cua Dai and An Bang. Our favourite was An Bang. When we were in An Bang there was no crowd at all, and after taking a pleasant swim in the morning, we ended up having lunch with fresh fish in one 0f the beach restaurants.
Rent a motorbike or a bicycle and get lost
There are so many nice places to see in around Hoi An, like the popular Tra Que vegetable farm village, and Than Ha pottery village. However keep in mind that it’s very easy to get off the beaten path, and that there are many other villages, including very nice fishing villages to see. Plus, taking one of the many countryside roads running out of town in the middle of picturesque rice fields is a rewarding experience itself.
Take a tour
Why not? There’s nothing wrong with taking a tour – popular day tours are My Son and Cham Island. However, if you are a photo enthusiast, consider taking a Photo Tour with French photographer Etienne Bossot (check his website Hoi An Photo Tour)
Take a stroll in the old town
There’s a reason why the old town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Find it for yourself wandering among the streets and taking a peek at temples and colonial houses – Don’t forget your camera though!
Hoi An Photo Gallery
Click the link below to access the photo gallery on Flickr: