13 Mar 220 049km // HOI AN // VIETNAM
If you’re like us (and not the majority, who will rent a motorbike and ride down Vietnam’s coastline à la Top Gear style), you’ll fly into what feels like Vietnam’s Las Vegas (aka Danang aka boulevards of luxurious resorts), and take a quick 30-min taxi ride to the centre of Hoi An. Let me warn you – your image of Vietnam…in fact, your image of South East Asia, will never be the same again. What a marvelous little town!
We (wisely) booked ourselves a room on the neighboring island of Cảm Nam at a place called Rural Scene Villa. You can catch a free 5-min ride from the hotel to the main Ancient Town centre in their electric buggy, or, if you’re feeling frisky (like we were, apparently) you can rent a motorbike and go cruising around all the islets on your own (that way you’ll spot water buffaloes and farmers at the rice paddies). Before I move on, I’d like to just highlight the incredible rooms, swimming pool, staff service and all-round experience at this little hidden gem – we loved it so much we left our other accommodation early to return to Rural Scene Villa for another two nights, so if you’re needing a place to stay, make them your first choice (did I mention it’s only US$18 a night!)
Now, onto the town itself!
I think I may have compared Hanoi to Italy’s capital – it certainly has the energy and bustle that Rome does – and if Hanoi is Vietnam’s Rome, then Hoi An is its Venice. Quaint streets with weathered building walls, ancient architecture and design, delectable cafes (albeit Asian-style) and of course, cute boats along the river’s edge. We spent a lot of time simply walking in the Ancient Town, through the Central Market (which reminded us a lot of the market we visited in Mauritius), and near the Japanese Covered Bridge (be warned – if you visit during peak season, which we seemed to have done in March, you’ll be asked to pay a fee simply to walk around). I also did what any sane female visiting Hoi An would do – I got a dress tailor-made for me (ok, ok, I got two dresses – but quickly threw away two other items of clothing – we can’t be collecting things, only replacing them, remember).
We also ventured to the nearby An Bang Beach, to enjoy coconuts and views of nearby parasailers, and then our highlight experience, undoubtedly, was taking a bamboo basket boat along the coconut palm forest – the boat trip is just short of an hour, costs US$6 for a two-person boat, and the lovely people at Coconut Hat will let you fish for fish and crab for crab (assuming one crabs for crab…or do you fish for crab?) Either way, a golden experience and one we’ll never forget.
Hoi An, we certainly hope to see you and your kind people again. Cảm ơn bạn!