Hoi An

Hoi An was undoubtedly my favorite place in Vietnam as the whole Old Quarter is heritage listed and has been beautifully preserved allowing you to step completely back in time. The city is brimming with amazing Vietnamese cuisine for ridiculous prices and is a great place to get anything tailor made, if you're going to do any shopping in Vietnam this is the place! 

We flew from Haiphong airport (near Halong Bay) at 7:30 am to Da Nang airport just outside of Hoi An. There is no public bus to get you from Da Nang airport to Hoi An (unless you walk 2km to the bus station and it was raining) so we got a taxi which cost us $15 each and the drive took about 40 minutes.

We stayed at the Tribee Kimh hostel which was just on the outskirts of the old town. It cost us $10 each a night for a private room including breakfast. 

The weather during our time in Hoi An was outrageous with some of the heaviest rain I've ever experienced FALLING ALL DAY. On our third day the river that the city is built around had flooded and half of the streets were blocked off unless you had a boat. Luckily we had several clear skied mornings that allowed us to explore to our hearts content and we spent the rainy afternoons shopping in the indoor markets or hanging out at our hostel.

As the old town is heritage listed you have to buy a book of tickets that gives you access to the five main sites in the Old Quarter and lasts 3 days. It costs 120,000 Vietnamese Dong ($6) and goes to supporting the restoration of the old town. They aren't clear as to what you can actually enter using these tickets but the Japanese Covered Bridge is an obvious attraction and if you walk through the Old Quarter you'll stumble across some of the many temples that are included on the card and are stupidly beautiful with meticulous paintwork, bright colours and bazaar statues.

If you're going to do any shopping in Vietnam, Hoi An is the place to do it. This city is particularly famous for tailor made clothing with several warehouse type buildings full of fabric and patterns dotting the streets of the old town and numerous tailor shops throughout the city. I initially had no intention of getting anything made because most of the stuff advertised or produced was pretty tacky but I overlooked the fact that these women could make literally anything you asked them to and could copy from images and description. Annoyingly I didn't spent enough time thinking about what I could get made but still ended up getting a silk slip dress and a bikini for $20 a each. If you want to get anything made i'd recommend thinking about it prior to arriving and going to the tailors first thing to search for fabric and describe your design so that there is enough time for them to make it before you leave. There is some cool china jewelry for sale here too as well as numerous leather shops that have some interesting stuff at decent prices (nothing like India though).  

Watching the sunset from the river's edge is a pretty lovely experience as the water reflects the pink of the sky and all the lanterns on the waters edge light up as the sun disappears.

We got massages at a place down the road from our hostel on one of the rainy afternoons for $8 each which I really enjoyed.

On our second last night we joined in on the hostel pub crawl (shock horror) I'd never been on a pub crawl before but there were no surprises, we literally all just went to one bar and then another and another!! The bars in Hoi An are quite an experience in themselves with the first being poorly themed 'Bob Marley' and the second (far more spectacularly) themed Mr Bean!! I wasn't drinking so instead entertained myself watching a group of outrageously drunk English girls grind up against each other while the Vietnamese 'dj' played Pitbull songs. The highlight was definitely when one of them face-planted straight into the ground and didn't get up for 20 minutes and instead of her friends trying to see if she was okay everyone just continued to dance around her semi unconscious body. REAL FUN 

I also got corn rows done for $6 at one of the hair dressers on the same road as our hostel. It took a lot longer than I expected as the women didn't really know what to do but we got there in the end and they turned out really well (and for $6 who really cares).

We hired a motor bike on our last day and road to the Marble Caves in Da Nang with a group of people from our hostel. The drive was about an hour and the roads were straight and wide meaning we traveled at about 80km an hour the entire time. The caves were super sick and we only saw I tiny bit of them because we wanted to see the beach (which was brown and murky from all the rain) before we headed back to Hoi An. 

To get back to the airport we booked transfers through a travel company in the Old Town for 100 000 dong each (about $5). 


Jodie's Food Reccomendations 

The food in Hoi An is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the city and Jod and I tried our best to make the most of the infinite selection of restaurants available to us. We ended up sticking to a few that became favorites which I have below. 

  • Queen banh mi - This place was a few streets away from our hostel and will honestly change your life. Banh Mi is $1 and is the perfect thing to eat for lunch. 
  • Com Ga Ba Buoi is great for dinner and lunch. This family-run restaurant has been cooking up delicious chicken rice since the 1950s (like many restaurants in Vietnam, it only serves one thing) and it's a great place to go for a more local experience. Its $2 for a plate of rice which is plenty of food.
  • Phi bahn mi - more amazing Banh Mi for $1 (need I say more)
  • The smoothies from the Lulu café became our daily ritual as it was just across from our hostel and each smoothie was $2. 
  • We had lunch at a place called Mot which served Pho and Cao Lou (which is a traditional pork dish from Hoi An) they were less than a dollar each. They also had a cold tea drink here which was delicious!!
  • Reaching out tea house - this place has a beautiful selection of teas served in ceramic tea pots and they have a silence policy so you can't talk and have to order by writing everything down. 
  • Banh Mi Phuong: more of the the best banh mi ever, I could eat this every day 
  • Cocobox: a light and airy organic cafe that serves up delicious juices, salads and sandwiches. The doors open out on to the streets of the old town, perfect for people watching.