Hoi An was a place highly recommend by various different friends who had previously visited Vietnam. It wasn’t on our original route around Asia but after the third friend suggested it…. we couldn’t just ignore their advice! And boy, I’m glad we listened! This is Vietnam at it’s most charming.
Arriving from Hanoi (take a look at my blog post here on the top 10 things to do and see in Hanoi), we had left the crazy scooters and diverse city behind and were welcomed to a more relaxed and most pretty town I was yet to experience in Asia. Firstly – it would be silly not to mention the lanterns – as that is what Hoi An is renowned and makes it so special. Then there’s a stunning river flowing through the town and… well there are quite a few things that I love about Hoi An so please keep reading all I’ll give you all the best bits to tick off when you’re there.
1. Buy some tailor-made clothes
So after recommending visiting Hoi An – in all of my friend’s second breathe was that this was the perfect place to get tailor-made clothes from. You’re really not short for choice either – almost every other shop will tailor make clothes for you and the best bit is that you can completely design the garments yourself! You can choose which material you’d like and the exact style you want it. However, I literally had no space in my case so I opted out unfortunately but next time, I’ll pack lighter and leave room for some new snazzy outfits.
My boyfriend did manage to squeeze two new shirts into his case though and absolutely loved them! From start to finish the tailors were lovely and dropped them off directly to our hotel, it really was first class service. They weren’t dirt cheap but for tailor made, perfectly fitted and fabulous quality the 70USD for two, seemed quite a good deal! (Our hotel recommended Bebe so that’s where we went, they were absolutely lovely and very professional although I think you can get cheaper shops further in town if you wish to do so).
2. Grab a coffee overlooking the river
Vietnam is famous for it’s coffee and rightly so! I don’t think I had a bad cup the whole time I was there – and as you may know, I am a huge coffee fan. There are so many options in this UNESCO World Heritage site, so just stroll along the river and you won’t be far from a place to get your caffeine fix. What I loved was how historic and traditional the streets seemed and then once in a coffee shop they were so clean and modern inside. A definite must do.
3. Wander the streets at night
Of course Hoi An is pretty in the day, but at night is when the magic happens and when the famous lanterns bring the town to life. I can’t explain how beautiful the lanterns were (I couldn’t stop snapping them), but it’s not just the lanterns, it’s the charming ambiance surrounding you. You can float on a boat down the river, light a candle to make a wish and buy a trip memoire from the night market. This Wanderlust Travel Awarded town oozes colour and culture with French Colonial buildings – so it really is not a place to forget your camera!
4. Cycle to An Bang beach
Most hotels in Hoi An will offer you bikes for the day absolutely free (I know, unheard of in England right?)! So on our first full day there, we decided to cycle to the beach. The ride was just as, if not more exciting than actually reaching the beach. It was whilst on the bike, that I felt I had reached the beautiful Vietnamese countryside – and being on a bike, I was so exposed to everything around us, it was a lovely feeling. There were huge cattle animals in the field that we cycled past – one’s that I had never seen before, there were little wooden buildings fly past and rice fields and rivers – I loved it! I know it was just a cycle ride, but it really excited me.
When we got to the beach, I think we paid about 10 pence to ‘park’ our bikes and then strolled over the sand towards the sea. Wow – it really shocked us at just how huge the waves were, so I didn’t venture out into the water but enjoyed the views from my sandy patch (the sea is much calmer in their summer months).
Which takes me to my next must-do…
5. Have lunch at The Deck House
On our second trip to the beach, with no prior recommendations or research, we stumbled across a beach-club style bar and restaurant called The Deck House. They were so friendly and served such delicious food – I had to mention it here. I opted for the Veggie burger that I can highly recommend and it’s great value too. A chilled out feel, cool vibes and a totally different scene than that of the old town.
6. Riverside Happy Hour Drinks
Head to the river mid-afternoon and you’ll find so many bars offering happy hour prices. Normal prices are insanely cheap but the happy hour prices are just ridiculous. My boyfriend was buying beers for 17,000 VD a drink which is just over 50p in GBP! It’s crazy! So you really can have a boozy session and not have to worry about your wallet. And the best bit is you’ll be there for perfect timing to watch the sun go down.
7. Grab a pizza at Good Morning Vietnam
This was our first meal out and boy did it not disappoint! For only a small, quite unassuming little Italian restaurant – it really left a lasting impression on me as I can still taste the crispy, cheesy pizza that I devoured there. It’s in a perfect location to then walk off your dinner with a little tootle around town. A perfect evening in Hoi An.
8. Stay at Goda Boutique hotel
I can’t express how much I recommend Goda Boutique Hotel. By the time we left, I felt like the staff were almost family – they took such care and of us and were incredibly lovely, it was so warming to meet such lovely people. On top of this – we got a fantastic deal on booking.com and the hotel was so clean and modern – I couldn’t fault it. It’s also almost half way between the beach and Hoi An town so it’s very ideally located. You can take a look at it here.
So in conclusion, Hoi An is really such a special little town that shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting Vietnam. Let me know if you’ve been by commenting below!
Lots of love,