Ancient trading port & UNESCO World Heritage
Romantic, peaceful, historic, graceful, atmospheric, culinaric…there are so many ways to try and explain the charm of Vietnam’s wealthiest town, a place that captures you from the moment you step in.
‘Hoi An owes its easygoing provincial demeanour and remarkably harmonious old-town character more to luck than planning. Had the Thu Bon River not silted up in the late 19th century – so ships could no longer access the town’s docks – Hoi An would doubtless be very different today. For a century, the city’s allure and importance dwindled until an abrupt rise in fortunes in the 1990s, when a tourism boom transformed the local economy. This revival of fortunes has preserved the face of the Old Town and its incredible legacy of tottering Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses.’ – Lonely Planet
The magical old town by night
Although the town is charming by daytime, the magic only unfolds after sunset, when thousands of lanterns lighten up the lively Old Town. Walking along the busy riverside you’ll find loads of kids trying to sell you floating lanterns. Once a month, on full moon, the city features a night parade and the river is filled with hundreds of lanterns.
Vibrant beaches a stone’s throw away
Hoi An has two beaches, An Bang being the nicer one. If you don’t have a pool at your hostel, this will be a great place to relax and slurp some delicious fruit shakes.
A foodie’s delight
The former trading hub is also Vietnam’s culinary capital; a meltingpot of local flavors and foreign influences. The charming riverside restaurants offer a multitude of local specialties and homebrewed beers. Make sure to try ‘White Rose’ (dumplings), ‘Banh Xeo’ (crispy rice pancakes) and ‘Cao Lao’ (noodle dish with herbs and sliced pork). Cheap lunch time snacks can be found at the food court of the central market. The food vendors are very proud women and each of them has specialized in a certain dish.
These tailors might ruin you
Hoi An has a long tradition of tailoring and you’ll have a hard time getting rid of pushy salespeople. If you want to get custom made suits and shirts make sure to take your time and do some research. I can recommend Aobaba. The girls there did a great job advising me and were doing as many fittings as required. If you have your own designs for clothes or shoes, they’ll do a great job copying them at an affordable price.
A home away from home
Backpacking is exhausting. You are constantly packing and unpacking, enduring hours of bumpy bus rides and in constant lack of privacy. Hoi An allows you to settle down and feel at home for a while. Take your time. Stay a week or two until you feel ready to move on with your journey. It is a captivating place which has lured many travelers to stay much longer as planned. Accomodation is great value, with many extras such as free breakfast buffet, pool or free bikes. I can recommend Grassland Hotel, which offers great deals in low season (17$ for a twin room) and has a lovely staff.
Stay: Grassland Hotel
Eat: Morning Glory
Shop: Aobaba Tailor Shop
Next: City of contrasts