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Situated on the central west coast of Vietnam, Hoi an is a breath of fresh air after the commotion of Vietnam’s more busy locations; such as Hanoi. Still reminiscent of the town used to harbour foreign traders back in the 17th and 18th centuries, Hoi An almost has an ancient Japanese feel to its surroundings.
What to do?
Enjoy the lack of mopeds! Seriously, after a few weeks of dodging mopeds from every direction you will fall in love with the fact that the ancient town is a bicycle and pedestrian town only. Many shops and hotels hire bikes out for the day for you to explore the town, the surrounding rice fields or to spend the day at the beach.
Hoi an is known for its tailor shops, not just for suits, ladies can get any dress their heart desires custom-made to measure. My boyfriend had a custom suit made from scratch in just 18 hours at a fraction of the price you would pay in the UK. Aside from the tailor shops, Hoi an also sells a lot of unique hand crafted lanterns; if you can find room for one in your backpack! If you can’t every evening paper lanterns are lit to be sold (around 50p!) and released down the river that runs through the middle of the town. It is beautiful and can only be described as something out of a Disney movie.
Wander, the many adjoining roads of the ancient town all start to look the same after a while, but don’t be afraid to just wander, you’ll soon stumble upon set back temples and independent shops that sell fantastic art work that can be rolled into tubes and brought home. On one of our evening walks, I found a lovely lady who does free hand beautiful mehendi henna designs outside the Dive bar between 7.30 – 10pm each night. Check her out at Henna Art Hoi an, she is so talented and I am now so inspired to learn mehendi henna even more than I was before!
Talk to the locals; there is no better way to learn the culture of a country than speaking to the people who live there. We took fishing boat ride down the Thu Bon river one evening with an older Vietnamese lady, after the getting over the initial fear of the boat nearly capsizing at every movement, it was wonderful to just to speak to her and I have come to realise that Vietnamese genuinely love speaking to the tourists as well.
Where to eat?
Admittedly Hoi An wasn’t my favourite place for food in Vietnam but we did have a really tasty low-cost meal in a restaurant on the outskirts of town – greatly called ‘I think you like’, it is a humble sibling run restaurant after the opportunity was given to them by their parents – and well these days it takes ALOT not to have a single negative review on trip advisor.
How to get there?
We flew into Danang airport from Hanoi, then took a 30 minute taxi which cost just £11. However there are a lot of different ways such as the 7 hour moped journey from Hue – as seen on Top Gear (something I would love to do in the future!).