Best of Hoi An – Vietnam
The Vietnamese town of Hoi An has an enchanting and well-preserved ancient ambience that offers the visitor the best of Hoi An Vietnam and a window into the centuries past in which Hoi An was an important Asian trading post.
It’s a witness to 800 years of celebrated history and that history is still evident today in its original wooden buildings and old bridges that span its river and outlying canals.
Its this atmospheric feeling of stepping back in time in Hoi An that attracts so many visitors from all over the world.
Hoi An old town spans the slow-moving Thu Bon River on which simple wooden boats take tourists on romantic river cruises where lanterns float at sunset. Ornate bridges across the river offer the visitor fabulous spots from which to take photographs.
In the centre of town is the world famous covered Japanese bridge was first constructed in the 1590s.
An ‘old town ticket’ is required to explore some of the UNESCO sites and to cross the Japanese Bridge.
The town of Hoi An is compact and its a great benefit that motorised transport is prohibited for several hours of the day because this makes walking around or taking a ‘cyclo’ or ‘cycle rickshaw’ a real pleasure through the narrow streets.
I was amazed to see the amount of tailor shops in Hoi An – there are several in every street – and the incredible talent of the local tailors and seamstresses is evident everywhere with beautifully created clothes – all personally made to measure – for sale at incredibly affordable prices.
Lots of people come to Hoi An specifically to have new clothes made to measure.
We saw brides, grooms, and bridesmaids all being measured up. One lady I met had brought several of her favourite (designer) dresses with her to Hoi An to be faithfully replicated in other fabrics and colours. When the backpacking husband and I discovered that our hotelier at Moon Villa in Hoi An – a lovely lady actually called Moon – was also a tailor and had a shop on the premises, we browsed her intricate work and the fabulous fabrics on offer in the finest cottons, linens and silks.
And, we soon asked to be measured up for some new shirts, trousers, and a new dress for me.
Our hotel experience in Hoi An was absolutely fabulous and so I would heartily recommend Moon Villa to you.
The rooms at Moon Villa are lovely and have aircon and there’s also a small swimming pool, which I have to tell you I was desperate to get back to everyday, after venturing out in the Vietnamese heat. And, the weather in Vietnam and the intense heat and humidity in the summertime was like nothing I’d ever experienced before!
Aside from the historic sights of Hoi An, the bars and restaurants are plentiful, and they all offer pretty and restful viewing spots on the street or from balconies. One of my favourite spots, especially when feeling beaten by the incredible heat and humidity, was in the heart of the old town at the White Marble Bar, where we often whiled away the afternoon sipping lychee martinis and watching the local people passing us by on bicycles or the tourists sitting in the carts of the iconic ‘cyclo rickshaws’.
As the sun goes down on Hoi An and in the evening, the heat becomes more sultry and the sights even more stunning.
There are fairy lights and colourful lanterns lit everywhere and the effect is quite magical, especially on the river and the riverbank where the lights of the bridge and the boats and lanterns and candles are reflected all around. Beautiful!
We spent a whole month in Vietnam and we flew from Singapore into Da Nang airport. Da Nang is Vietnams third largest city and it’s located on the eastern seaboard coast, geographically approximately halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
And, when we first arrived, I had a writing deadline so we took the opportunity to relax for several days at a homestay hotel on the expansive beachfront area just outside Da Nang City at the popular An Bang Beach.
An Bang beach once featured on CNN’s ‘Top 100 Best Beaches in the World’.
An Bang is a vast and popular huge stretch of shimmering beach and the whole oceanside area is well set up for tourists with hotels, homestays, and bars with live music and open air restaurants.
So, as you might imagine, it is always busy and bustling and did I mention blisteringly hot?
Oh my goodness – the sand on An Bang beach was too hot to walk on without flipflops when we visited in August!
So, after a few days of sweltering in An Bang, we decided to move a few miles further up the coast to stay for a week at another beachside resort called Cua Dai, where we found a quiet and laid back beach with powder soft white sand.
Cua Dai beach was once known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, until around 10 years ago when it began to suffer from severe erosion by strong waves and tropical storms due to global warming. The erosion causing Cua Dai beach to narrow is currently being countered by extensive anti-erosion works to try and save what is left of the beach and to stop more beach sand being shaved away by the elements.
Once an exclusive place favoured by the jet-set with its hi-class accommodations and fabulous seafood restaurants, we found Cua Dia to be a perfect, laid-back and quiet place, to really relax and rewind.
The fact that most people now favoured An Bang beach instead was absolutely to our benefit.
In Cua Dai, we stayed in another wonderful homestay right opposite the beach and we ate most of our evening meals on the edge of the sand at small restaurants and bistros serving fabulous seafood. Occasionally, we wandered into the village, past open air and palm thatched huts displaying local crafts and art, to find small family run restaurants that excelled in fabulous friendly service and delicious local food.
Flying into Da Nang Airport on the central Vietnam coastline offers access to some of the highlights and best experiences and sights of Vietnam and for me the experience of Hoi An will stay with me as one of the most special experiences of my life.
I do hope to return to Vietnam – as soon as post-pandemic travel allows – and next time, I’ll fly into Hanoi in the north and then travel through the whole country to eventually reach Ho Chi Minh City. What an adventure that would be!
Have you ever travelled to Vietnam?
Where did you stay and what did you explore and experience?
Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
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