The well preserved, UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An is one of the highlights of South East Asia and Vietnam. When you arrive you feel like you can relax in Vietnam. After leaving the hustling cities it’s the perfect change of pace. The cobblestone streets in the center of town are closed to cars and motorbikes and the Old Town has kept the unique architecture and feel of an ancient Asian town. A lantern lit bridge crosses the Thu Bon River to more shops, restaurants and markets. You can, eat, drink, shop and go to the beach. Walking around the town you see a beautiful blending of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and French architecture.
However many days you plan to stay, if you add at least two more it’ll be worth it. Walking around town, going to a tailor, sitting a local restaurant with a really nice (and inexpensive) glass of wine, people watching, going to the beach or just taking in the cultural halls and houses in the town make this one of the most relaxing places to visit.
There are many options both right in town and further out near the beach. Here are some suggestions:
Hoi An Hotel: ($60-$90) 10 Tran Hung Dao – great location with a pool, modern rooms and fantastic service.
Hoian Pacific Hotel & Spa: ($43-$60) 321 Cua Dia St. – a bit further out closer to Cua Dai Beach. Lovely, modern and nice pool.
Sunflower Hotel: ($24- $30) 397 Cua Dai Street – Clean, cheap and cheerful with a pool. Halfway between the old town and Cua Dai Beach.
Hoi An has over 500 tailors in the town so choosing one can be a daunting task. I tried a few – just for “research” and I learned that you definitely get what you pay for, so you want to make sure to ask plenty of questions and choose carefully. You can have anything copied, made from a photo, shoes, handbags, boots, made to order. Prices vary so keep quality in mind over price.
A few favorites are:
Trung Duc Couture: 37 Tran Hung Dao Street – Women’s tops: $35-$45; women’s dresses: $45
Tuong Cloth Shop: 67 Tran Hung Dao – Women’s tops $25-$30; Women’s dresses: $30-$50; women’s pants $30-$40
Yaly Couture: (the most expensive tailor in the area)47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street
Bi Tuong: 54 Le Loi Street (Shoes &Handbags) Women’sflats $30-$40 Men’s business shoes $30-$55
Hao Shoe Shop: 26 Le Loi Stret (Shoes & Handbags) Women’s flats $30-$40; Men’s shoes, $30-$45
For great food, great atmosphere Streets Restaurant at 17 Le Loi Street has a program that supports street kids taking them into their training program to help them become independent and teach them professional and life skills. You can check out their mission www.streetsinternational.org. Also try the Canh Rau (leafy vegetable soup) and Kam Flan- Crème Flan with Vietnamese Coffee glaze.
Have lunch at the Lantern Town Restaurant 46, Nguyen Thai Hoc Street (I’ve heard they have a great cooking class also) and walk out the back entrance by the river, turn left and you’re at the central market.
When you want to drink good wine at inexpensive prices and wind down with vegetarian food, the White Marble at 98 Le Loi Street has a great spot to people watch. Just perch yourself with a glass of wine and watch the world walk by and take in the beauty of the streets of Hoi An.
You have plenty of choices for lunch, dinner or cocktails overlooking the Thu Bon River try to the Cargo Club at 107 Dnguyen Thai Hoc and sit on their roof top restaurant. They have great sweets and a beautiful view.
A fun place with an upbeat scene to have a night cap is Before and Now on 51 Le Loi Street. They have a nice two for one happy hour also.
Spend a day relaxing at Cua Dia Beach or Ah Bahn Beach, having lunch and playing in the sand. The Old Town is easy to navigate, you can wander to the Japanese Covered Bridge or one of the preserved Heritage Houses that are open to the public. These brothers in the photo below grew up in this house, it’s been in the family for generations and they still live there and it’s open for the public to visit. The Dragon Statue in the courtyard of the Assembly Hall is also worth a visit.
One evening a summer program for kids sponsored by project Indochina hosted a choir concert on the bank of the river by the Lantern Bridge. The kids sang both Vietnamese and English songs and were so excited to talk to people and practice their English. Hoi An is a highlight of Vietnam that I’m looking forward to going back to.