Visiting the graceful historic port of Hoi An felt like taking a glimpse into an older version of Vietnam.
The peaceful Old Town is filled with ancient tea houses, Chinese temples and perfectly preserved merchant houses. Unlike the huge sprawling metropolises of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An is small enough to navigate on foot. It is much quieter and more laid back – without the snarling swarms of motorbikes at every intersection.
I fell in love with the elegance of this old fashioned town as I explored its narrow alleyways and peaceful streets. There are many things to love about Hoi An – here are the aspects of the city that enchanted me:
Food in Vietnam was superb and dining in Hoi An, on the atmospheric streets surrounded by colourful lanterns, was a delight. There are several fantastic restaurants there serving up the fresh, fragrant and flavourful Vietnamese dishes such as spring rolls, Pho, Banh Mi and Bun Bo Hue.
Whether you are looking for a cheap authentic local lunch from a street cart or a night of fine dining in a luxurious restaurant, you’ll find a great selection in Hoi An. If you like seafood you can head out to the beach at An Bang. There are also plenty of food tours and cooking classes to enjoy.
Another reason to love Hoi An is the people. In this quiet town the pace of life is a lot more laid back, so you have more time to stroll down the street, smile at people and strike up a conversation.
Linger in a cafe or chat to the local street vendors – the people you meet and talk to will be one of the most memorable parts of your visit. We had a great time talking to our guide who took us on a boat tour down the river, he had a warm and welcoming smile that I will never forget.
You will get a sense of history as soon as you arrive in Hoi An. The town mostly consists of beautiful timber-frame buildings, brightly painted pagodas, ancient temples and 200 year old shophouses. The town itself is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the many ancient temples, bridges and other buildings.
There are many heritage buildings that have been lovingly restored and can be visited for a fee.The streets are blocked off to motorbikes and cars during the day, so it’s easy to wander around and explore the colourful buildings without worrying about getting run over! When you are visiting historic sites and temples in the Old Town, make sure that you dress respectfully and cover your shoulders and legs.
The Affordable Custom Made Clothing
One of the amazing things about Hoi An is that for a very affordable price you can get beautiful one of a kind custom tailored clothing made for you at one of the many tailor shops. No matter what you want, whether it is a pair of pajamas, a suit or an elegant evening gown, you can have it made for you at a fraction of what you would pay at home.
My boyfriend Lee had a suit custom tailored while we were there and I got a lovely dress. I would love to go back again and have lots of different clothing made. Many of the tailors are so talented that you can simply show them a photo of a piece of clothing you like in a catalogue and they will be able to recreate it.
The Beautiful Colours
Bright red silk lanterns, emerald green rice paddies, banana yellow houses with cyan doors- Hoi An is a photographer’s dream. The brightly painted walls and curved roofs are a result of hundreds of years of history.
It is a feast for the eyes, with splashes of colour on every surface and a lively energy in the streets. If you truly want to be overwhelmed by colour and texture, visit the Central Market in Hoi An where vendors gather to sell live chickens, fresh tropical fruit and handwoven crafts.
These are just a few of the reasons why I loved Hoi An. When you make your own trip there, you are likely to find things about this charming place that will make you fall in love with it as well.