Hoi An - The place that gets your heart (Part 1)

30 July 2018

Picture: Lonely Planet

Hoi An is not only about the delicious food that attracts chefs from around the world, but also the allure of the sea, islands and forests that provide its natural splendor.

To mention Hoi An is to talk about the rows of antique yellow houses alongside the Hoai River, the scene of sparkling lanterns at night, or some of the most popular delicacies. Long held in fame as a historic trading port, Hoi An is still a hotspot for travellers because of its convenient transportation, reasonable price and unique beauty of the world renown Quang town. Visitors can travel to Hoi An throughout the year, however, summer is arguably the most beautiful time to visit.

Easy and convenient transportation

From Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City you can catch trains, buses or airplanes to Da Nang and then transfer to Hoi An by car, bus or motorbike. However, the fastest way is to fly and the airport is just 3 km from the city center. A round trip ticket for a single person from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang goes for about 1.5 million VND ($70). You should buy tickets early to get good prices and better travelling time for yourself because it is now summer - the peak tourist season in the Central coast.

For a leisurely Hoi An experience, you also have the option of sitting on a “xích lô” (cyclo) to see the town. Picture: Huong Chi.

At Da Nang airport you can choose to take the shuttle bus, or rent a motorbike in order to get to Hoi An. Another route would be from the city, from where you can take the bus or taxi. For those who enjoy freedom when travelling, renting motorcycles from Da Nang to spend your time in Hoi An without worrying about how to get around goes for as little as 150,000 VND per day.

If you wish to take the bus you can take the bus 01 (Da Nang - Hoi An) running from 5:30 to 17:50 daily with a fare of 20,000 VND per person. If you travel with 3 or more people and want to get to Hoi An faster, you should call a taxi for the price of 250,000 VND per trip.

In order to move around in Hoi An, you can ride bicycles, rent motorbikes from the hotel and the homestay you live in. The price for bicycle rent is 20,000 VND per day and for motorbike is 120,000 VND.

A great variety of hotels and homestays

The small and homely Maison de Tau homestay is located in the center of Hoi An. Picture: Huong Chi.

Hoi An has its own beauty in each season, but the most crowded one is still the summer. So if you want to go during this time, you should find out about accomodation to book as soon as possible, especially for the weekend, for a better price.

4 - 5 star hotels and resorts price here is about 2.5 million or more for a double room per night. Hoi An now has more and more new resorts with beautiful locations such as Cam Chau ward, An Bang seaside, Cua Dai beach.

Homestay in Hoi An has also grown rapidly in recent years and they can serve everyone from guests travelling alone to people travelling in groups or with family. It is not only just a clean place to sleep, the homestay is well taken-cared of with architecture, unique furniture, lovely gardens, spacious rooms and airy. Hoi An homestay prices are very cheap and they don’t fluctuate in the peak season, from 200,000 VND per night for one person.

Some beautiful homestays are the Maison de Tau, Under the Coconut Tree, An Bang Beach Hideaway, Heron House, Le Bleu…

Hoi An food - the cuisine for everyone

Hoi An is known as a culinary paradise with countless of delicacies that “mesmerise” not only locals, but also world-famous chefs like Anthony Bourdain (USA), Luke Nguyen (Australia) and Cameron Stauch (Canada)... In addition to the variety of food, the prices in Hoi An are also very “pleasant”, for example, you can get a big bowl of sweet dessert on the pavement for only 5,000 - 10,000 VND, or a “banh mi” (bread) for 15,000 - 25,000 VND, Quang noodles and “cao lau” are only 25,000 VND for a bowl.

One of the most interesting parts of Hoi An's trip is to enjoy the food here. Picture: Huong Chi.

Coming to Hoi An, tourists will never fear of hunger and lack of food choices. From early morning to late night, Hoi An is full of open bars and welcoming crowds. Some of the famous eating places that visitors should not ignore are Ba Boi chicken rice, “banh mi” Phuong, “banh mi” Madam Khanh, Gieng Ba Le rice pancakes, vegetarian rice at the market,...

Hoi An's sidewalk snacks, especially sweet ones are also uncountable. If you are a sweet tooth, you should try all the sweet desserts called “che”, jelly beans, bamboo shoots, mango cake…

If you want to have a special meal with friends, family or loved ones, HOME Hoi An - Vietnamese Restaurant is the place to go. Centrally located on the prime street of Hoi An, HOME Hoi An is within 2 minute walking distance to the Japanese bridge and pretty close to most of Hoi An’s popular attractions, vibrant art shops and local markets. Not only does the restaurant have the best location of the town, it will also serve you the most authentic Hoi An food with the most reasonable price with the quality of food it has to offer. A variety of wine and drink selections to compliment your meal will guarantee you a perfect time.

Nice cafes

A sunny coffee shop and paper flowers in the center of Hoi An. Picture: Huong Chi.

For drinks, besides herbal drinks, tea and coffee in Hoi An are also delicious. In addition, each coffee shop in the Old town has its own charm. Many are hidden in the hundreds-of-year-old houses, some are on the top floor of a house, so guests can look at the city while sipping their drinks, or some have staff members that are deaf.

For those who love to see Hoi An from above, they can go to Faifo Café on the third floor of a house on Tran Phu street, if you seek a quiet space, you can go to Reaching Out tea shop, or enjoy some Italian ice cream with delicious coffee at Hoi An Roastery... If you try harder to find unique cafes, those will be in the alleyways in the Old town. There are cafes and tea rooms that will give you the real, and authentic Hoi An vibes with a modern breath as they attract many foreign visitors.

Great places to explore

The Old town

Just Hoi An Ancient Town is enough for an endless walk with tons of places to stop for youngsters to “check-in”. Each road, every old street corner or a long row of yellow houses is a great stopping point for interesting photography and local culture exploration.

With a ticket price of only 80,000 ($3,50) VND per a person for 24 hours, you will have the opportunity to visit three of the most outstanding monuments in the Old Town. They are the Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, the ancient houses of Quan Thang, Duc An, Phung Hung, Tan Ky. The ticket also includes the street arts, folk games, night markets... taking place after 7 pm.

About the night activities in the old town, you can be on a the boat releasing the flower lantern, walk up and down the bridges to watch the streets light up, listen to live music in the bar and cafe or watch some famous shows like “Sương Sớm” (Early Morning Mist), “À Ố” Show, Teh Dar or Hoi An Memory.

Cua Dai, An Bang, Ha My Beach

An Bang beach is in Cam An ward, 3 km from Hoi An city center. The beach is clean and clear, also not too crowded, and has enough space for you to relax. In 2011, An Bang Beach was voted as one of the 50 most beautiful beaches in the world by CNN.

In 2017, Ha My beach was selected by the British newspaper Telegraph as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Asia. Located about 3.5 km from An Bang beach, 6 km from the Marble Mountains, and 7 km from Hoi An city center, Ha My Beach is not too outstanding but still has its own uniqueness and charm. Although it is pretty far away from the center, Ha My does not lack of homestays, hotels or resorts for visitors to choose.

A cool afternoon at An Bang, and Cua Dai beach. Picture: Huong Chi, Kim Anh.

Cua Dai Beach is a familiar destination in Hoi An, in 2013, it was voted to the top 25 most beautiful beaches in Asia. Cua Dai beach is 5 km from the center of Hoi An, a large beach with smooth white sand, clear water, small waves. Guests can lie for hours on the sand for sunbathing, listening to the sound of the waves coming in and out, or go fishing near the shore, rent a boats to sail with fishermen, or participate in water sports…

Cu Lao Cham (Cham island)

If you depart from Hoi An, there are two means of transportation to get to Cu Lao Cham: canoes and wooden boats. Canoes often leave from Cua Dai beach and take only about 20 minutes then you will arrive at Cu Lao Cham, the fare is about 150,000 ($7) - 200,000 ($9) VND per person. The wooden boat departing from Bach Dang port takes about 2 hours but the price is cheaper, about 50,000 ($2,50) - 80,000 ($3,50) VND per person, if carrying a motorbike, there will be a 30,000 ($1,50) VND extra each.

In Cu Lao Cham, the main accommodation is homestays, motels or tents. The average price for homestays and motels is about 100,000 ($4,50) - 150,000 ($7) VND per room a night for 1 or 2 people. The tent rental is about 100,000 ($4,50) VND per night.

Not only do they provide meals and accommodation, but they also provide services such as: car rental, boats to island, scuba diving, fishing, walking under the sea...

Cu Lao Cham is a suitable destination for a one-day exploring. Picture: Huong Chi.

Ancient villages

Tra Que vegetable village is famous for its fresh vegetables grown on fertile soils.The village is in Cam Ha, 3 km from the center of Hoi An. Here you will have the opportunity to learn dozens of varieties of vegetables and spices. Visitors will also have the real life farmers experience by practicing cultivating soil, growing and harvesting vegetables with their own hands. After that, visitors can enjoy Hoi An specialties prepared with fresh and fresh fruits from the village.

Thanh Ha pottery village dating back to the 15th century, is about 3 km west of the ancient town of Hoi An, right next to Thu Bon River. The products of the village are not only pots, brick tiles, bowls and plates, but also many unique souvenirs. Visitors to the village will be able to learn about the crafting and also craft their own pottery products.

Kim Bong Carpentry Village is a village of over 600 years old. This place is famous for creating exquisite and unique woodwork from house to boat. They now make products of art, decoration, souvenir.

Phuoc Kieu copper casting village is almost 400 years old. Coming to Phuoc Kieu village, visitors will see a lot of brass products used for the holidays, festivals as well as daily necessities. In addition to admire the unique and sophisticated products, visitors can also watch local people casting copper mold and buy souvenirs.

“Bay Mau” Coconut Forest

On top of sitting in a basket boat, tourists visiting the coconut forest also have other activities to participate in. Photo: Quynh Tran.

From the center of Hoi An ancient town, along the Hoai River for over 3 km is a big coconut forest in Cam Thanh commune. Basket boat rowing tour to visit the coconut forest started appearing in Cam Thanh a few years go and gradually became an indispensable “speciality” of Hoi An tourism. Each boat is only allowed to carry up to two people. For 200,000 ($9) VND, visitors are guaranteed a sitting spot in a basket boat wading through the creek for about an hour immersing in the greenest coconut forest.

Moreover, visitors will also see the boat dance performances and be instructed to make small toys with coconut leaves like water flowers, grasshoppers, bracelets, glasses, rings, or hats... as souvenirs. If you come to Bay Mau forest in August lunar month, visitors will enjoy the ripe coconut juice with the crunchy and sweet flesh.

In conclusion, Hoi An is a place that would never bore you regardless of how many times you are here or will come here. From the food, to the people and end with beautiful scenarios, Hoi An will definitely have a special place in your heart.

Lang Co Town - A perfect escape for the summer

The small Lang Co town in Phu Loc District, Thua Thien – Hue Province is located on the root of the imposing Hai Van mountain range. With long beach sloping gently to the pure water sea, Lang Co is a quiet note for a summer escape.