Hoi An, Central Vietnam 

Hoi An’s Ancient Town will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time with its striking mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European architecture. Get lost in the narrow streets of shops covered in delicate lanterns and flowers. You’ll always find something that you didn’t notice the first time.


ANCIENT TOWN

The UNESCO World Hertigate site of Hoi An’s Ancient Town sits on the Thu Bon River. It was a vibrant trading port between from the 15th to 19th century.

During the day explore the labyrinth of canary yellow buildings and beautiful temples. When the sunsets, the town is lit up with hundreds of colourful lanterns strung across streets. Spend some time walking around and enjoy the atmosphere.

Historic Sites

Hoi An’s historic sites work on a coupon system. It’s easy to purchase tickets from the information offices around town and spend a day exploring.

Japanese Covered Bridge
This small wooden bridge built in the 18th century with striking carvings on top is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the Ancient Town.

Phuoc Lam
An elaborate yellow temple with many different renderings of Buddha.

Fujian Assembly Hall
This fabulous pink building was built in 1690 is home to beautiful statues and delicate carvings of dragons.


BEYOND ANCIENT TOWN

  • Rent a bike and get out into the countryside.
  • Take a cooking class at the Redbridge Cooking School.
  • Spend a day at the beach.
  • Visit the nearby islands.
  • Do a motorbike tour of the Hai Van Pass.

FOOD & DRINK

The hype around food in Hoi An is completely justified. I had some of the best meals of my trip here – including Christmas dinner! From mobile carts to upscale restaurants, it’s a food-lovers heaven.

Must-tries

Cao Lầu
Hoi An noddles, typically consisting of pork and greens

Mi Quang
Rice noddles with shrimp, pork or chicken

White Rose Dumplings
Rice paper with shrimp or meat in the centre

Hoi An Wontons

Places To Eat

For beautiful views of the ancient town, have dinner at one of the restaurants on the opposite side of the river. Go before the sun sets and watch as the town lights up with lanterns.

Hoi An Roastry Espresso & Coffee House and CocoBox Juice Bar & Cafe
Scattered around the ancient town serving light meals, pastries, smoothies and excellent coffee (I don’t actually drink coffee that’s my friend’s opinion).

Vy’s Market
On the other side of the river from the ancient town at the entrance to the night market. There is a huge selection of food on the menu, try something from the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ section. Vy also owns Cargo, Morning Glory, White Lantern and Mermaid.

Brother’s Cafe
A fine dining restaurant set on the river away from the ancient town. It’s the perfect place to relax with a glass of wine away from the crowds.

Redbridge Cooking School, Hoi An, Vietnam

The day starts with a tour of the local market. The guide was brilliant and offered a much more in-depth explanation of the ingredients than I’d seen before. She showed us what to look for to check the meat and seafood was fresh.

A pretty 20 minute journey down the river takes you to the cooking school: set perfectly overlooking the river with beautiful gardens and carefully crafted dark wood buildings. After a welcome drink we explored the herb garden. It sounds ridiculous, but I never knew what peanuts looked like when they’re growing.

Then it’s time to cook! We were given the recipe book at the start so we could add notes along the way. We made pancake spring rolls, fresh spring rolls, chilli sauce, beef soup and a salad. My favourite part of the class was making these fresh spring rolls, including the rice paper!


STAY

Ancient Town
Staying close Ancient Town is perfect for maximum time wondering the streets. I stayed in Tipi Hostel which was only a five minute walk. Previously a hotel and it still feels very hotelish. Shared rooms might just be you and one other guest. My room had two beds, a TV, fan, aircon and a nice rainfall shower. All for £7 a night. It’s not the most social place as everyone does there own thing in the day and evening. Breakfast is your time to meet people.

Outskirts of Ancient Town
Further into the countryside are more resort style options. It’s a longer walk into town or you can order taxis which will drop you off as close to Ancient Town as possible. Hoi An Waterway Resort was a brand new 4* hotel on the river with a lovely pool. The rooms are absolutely gorgeous, spacious and clean. Bathroom have enormous showers or shower with separate bath. The bed is the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in! The staff are incredibly attentive and they made the stay here really special. £25 a night

Beach
Golden sandy beaches and pretty countryside locations are ideal for relaxation. Ancient Town is a 45 minute walk, 15 minute cycle or short taxi journey. Many hotels and hostels offer bike hire making it easy to discover the Vietnamese countryside. I stayed at Paddy’s Hostel which was just five minutes walk from Cua Dai beach. This beach is nice but not stunning, you need to head further down the coast to get away from the sandbags. The hostel has a big social area, pool and very clean dorm rooms (your bed is made up daily which I thought was a nice touch).  About £8 a night depending on dorm size.


TRAVEL

By Bus (Hoi An)
Services arrive daily. From the south, about 10 hours from Nha Trang. From the north, about 3 hours from Hue. The bus station is close to Cua Dai beach and will cost 60,000 VND for a 5 minute drive.

By Air (Da Nang)
Hoi An doesn’t have an airport so you’ll need to fly into the neighbouring city Da Nang, about a one hour flight from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
Taxi will take 45 minutes and cost 400,000 VND to the Ancient Town. Beachside locations cost between 450,000 – 500,000 VND
Some hostels and hotels can arrange private transfers or shuttle buses which are cheaper than taxis.

By Train (Da Nang)
Da Nang is the easiest station to connect with Hoi An.
Expect the same cost of taxis as the airport. 45 minutes at 400,000 VND to the Ancient Town. Beachside locations cost between 450,000 – 500,000 VND.
As with the airport hotels and hostels can arrange transfers for you.


Visited December 2016


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