After spending almost one week in Saigon sightseeing, stuffing my face with Pho, and enjoying the amazing weather (but not the traffic), it was time to move on. My next stop was the colorful city of Hoi An.
Hoi An is located about half way between the North and South of Vietnam. I opted to fly as taking the train or bus would make for a full day of travel and the trains in Vietnam are slow and not known for their comfort. The airfares were cheap and the flight was short, so it seemed like the right choice.
When I arrive at the airport in Da Nang it is pouring rain. It doesn’t let up during the entire drive to my hotel and I can barely make out the beach and ocean from the car window.
Apparently, Da Nang is becoming quite a tourist destination with new resorts opening across from the miles of palm tree lined beaches. My driver kept pointing at the new resorts and saying who they catered to. “Chinese. Chinese. Chinese. American. Chinese. Chinese…” You get the idea.
By the time I reach the hotel the rain has letup a little bit which I hope is a good sign. The hotel is relatively new and quite nice. It’s in a great location, a short walk from the historic center.
The only oddity was that the sink was in the main room and not the bathroom.
The city of Hoi An is built on the Thu Bon River and has an important trading center from the 1400s through the 1800s. Over the years it was settled by people from a number of different countries including China, Japan, India, and Portugal.
The main tourist draw of Hoi An is the historic downtown area and it’s well preserved buildings that show the influences of the different cultures that once called this port city home.
Sightseeing In Hoi An
You can see everything in Hoi An in a couple of days. I stayed for about 5 days. It’s a nice quiet town and prices were cheap. I think I was paying about $35 USD a night for my hotel. It rained a lot while I was there, so I’d break up my sightseeing in small chunks during the day when the sun was shining, so the longer stay actually worked out well.
Hoi An Historic Downtown
The Downtown area covers both sides of the Thu Bon River and is several blocks deep. Its fairly small and easily walkable. But you can ride around in a pedal cab if you prefer.
The area is lined with old buildings painted in the signature mustard yellow and blue. There buildings are filled with shops and restaurants aimed at the tourist trade.
Japanese Bridge In Hoi An
The Japanese covered bridge is one of the icons of Hoi An. It was built in the early 1700s and is a beautiful piece of Japanese architecture.
Hoi An At Night
While the city may be crowded with tourists during the day as many tour buses stop in for a day of sightseeing, it seems to quiet down into the late afternoon as groups of tourists begin to depart.
But as the sun goes down and the lanterns light up across the streets of Hoi An, the city begins to come alive once again. People are taking photos and boat rides, packing into restaurants and bars, and exploring the night market.
I’d been taking a lot more photos with the cell phone I picked up in Bangkok. It does some really wonky stuff to any photos I take, especially in low light. Not really a fan of its camera, but with all the rain it seemed like a good choice to leave my camera at home.
Coffee, Cocktails, And Food In Hoi An
Coffee is popular in Vietnam and Hoi An is no exception. There are dozens of local coffee shops dotted around town. I was partial to Hoi An Roastery which had a couple of locations in town.
It had a nice atmosphere and the coffee was good. There wasn’t a lot on their food menu, but the panini sandwiches aren’t too bad.
There are plenty of bars in Hoi An from backpacker dive bars to nicer bars serving up top shelf spirits.
Or you can pick up the local beer, Bia Larue, which isn’t too bad.
The signature local dish for Hoi An is Cao Lau. A bowl of noodles, pork, and vegetables that is delicious.
Life Along the Thu Bon River
The seafaring roots of this once important trading post continue on in modern times as sightseeing tours and dinner boat cruises.
Tailors And Other Things
No trip to Hoi An would be complete without checking out the local tailors. While I didn’t get a suit made, I did stop in to one of the many Tailors lining the streets of town. The styles weren’t exactly what I would go for, but maybe I’m just not fashionable enough.
I enjoyed my time in Hoi An and if it hadn’t been raining so much I’m sure I would have enjoyed it even more.
It was time to pack up and head on to my next destination.