How to spend a day in Hoi-An
I started my Vietnam trip from the city of Hoi An in central Vietnam, which is about 30 km from Danang International Airport.
Something about this city:
Hoi-An is a small beautiful ancient town located about 30 minutes drive from Danang city. What catches the attention of the worldwide visitors is the fact that it is a UNESCO listed heritage old town running along the Thu Bon river. My first impression of cultural Vietnam was quite in amazement, when I toured around this ancient town. Hoi-An is famous for having the best amalgamation of modern and the ancient world. Narrow lantern lit alley, traditionally decorated houses and shops, niche cafés, chic boutiques selling leather items, accessories and handicraft are such a delight. It is also a best place to get some dapper looking tailor-made suites and dress, as Hoi-An is known to have the best tailors in the country. So, do not give a miss if you happen to visit this place and have a fetish for nice tailored clothes.
I reached about afternoon and checked in to Hoa-Binh hostel, which was at a stone’s throw distance from the old quarter. There are a number of choice of hotels, should u wish to choose from (budget hostels to fancy hotels). In the afternoon, I went out and tried my first Banh Mi ( Vietnamese local SUBWAY filled with meat and vegetables of your choice). I would say that has been my comfort food all throughout my 10 day trip in Vietnam. Post lunch I went around the old town and headed towards a hearty walk by the river which flows from the city.
A photo stop near the famous and iconic Japanese bridge was quickly done, as I tried to get a human less shot of the same. One can easily walk down or hire a cycle to visit the nearby An-Bang beach for a sunset. As the sun went down, the city turned into a fairy tale land with glowing lanterns, colorful alleys. The cool bars along the canal river became lively bustling with merrymaking crowd. As we walked passed the river, we found street hawkers everywhere selling variety of things from food to handicrafts, jewellery, showpieces, accessories and not to forget many many colorful lanterns too. Night market near the river in Hoi-An can just make you blow your budget, as they sell some amazing cheap unique accessories and souvenirs.
Talking about food, I tried their famous noodles Bun Cha, a mound of Vermicelli rice noodles, beef, herbs, sauce along with fresh chilled beer. Hoi- An is quite laid back but everything comes to a standstill post 11 pm, as the shops shuts soon. But the bars and few cafés are kept open till late night. I spend just one and half day in Hoi AN but can definitely say that it was one of my best colorful cities in Vietnam that I visited.
Few Tips on Hoi An:
Nearest airport is 30kms from Hoi An which is in Danang (all major international / domestic flights land here). Vietnam bus connection is a major bonus while travelling length and breadth of the country. And, Hoi-An is almost centrally located. Hence, definitely falls under a tourist trail (while going from north to south or south to north). There is no railway station in Hoi An. Most travelers going to Hoi An by train stops at Da Nang or Tam ky Railway Station.
Hoi-An has a range of hotels from budget hostels to boutique hotels. One can definitely check out from booking.com or hostelworld.com. My recommendation would be to choose hotels or hostels near to the ancient town. Generally, you can get hostel from 5 USD per night with breakfast till hotels upto 50-60 USD depending on your budget. Also one who likes to stay close to the nature can opt for some affordable yet classy home stays near the river and the paddy fields.
When in Vietnam, go Vietnamese way. Definitely try out their local cuisine (Banh Mi, Pho Bo, Bun Chao and many more street delicacies, which I saw but could not hog due to lack of space in my already overgrown tummy. Also, sit in one of the many traditionally yet classy décor Café for some nice coffee and hearty exchange with fellow travellers. Beer not to be missed (afterall you are in Vietnam). There are plenty of options to choose from for vegetarians and non vegetarians as well.
Things to do-
Visiting Japanese bridge, four museums, all at a walk able distance (you can get a single ticket for all the four museums), watching the sunset at An–Bang beach, strolling around the lantern lit alley and the canal by the evening, buy some nice handicrafts and souvenirs, boating in the canal and watch the entire town while boating on the river, taking a cycle tour around the heritage city . Visit MySon ruins (half day tour from Hoi-An), ride to Danang city for a day trip.
Well I wish I had some more days to stay and get into the depth of this historical paradise. But I tried and made the best use of my short-very short itinerary in Hoi An before heading to my next place Phong Nha.
I would love to hear from you about what you liked in Hoi An? Your comments are valuable to me.