Oh my, Hoi An! I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting after reading loads of blogs and guidebooks on the city, but my expectations were exceeded right away. Hoi An is a city on the coast that has a completely different vibe than any other town I’ve come across in Southeast Asia. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and its colonial charm can be felt throughout the entire area. With a pedestrians and bicycles being the only mode of transport in the Old Town, you feel immediately relaxed by not having to run out of the way for motorbikes, like you do in most Vietnamese towns.
I think most of all, Hoi An is known for its unique, local dishes. If there’s anywhere a travelling foodie should go, it’s Hoi An. From white rose to Cau Lau, your taste buds are in for an absolute treat. I loved walking down the streets of the Old Town, getting my measurements taken for a custom-made dress, drinking the local beer at beer gardens or on rooftops and all around taking in the peace and quiet.
How Long Should You Stay: We stayed for 2 full days. I think you could probably spend a day or two longer if you’re into some of the history or want to take a trip to the beach, but 2-4 days should be sufficient.
How Much Should You Budget: We spent around $190 in two days for both of us. Accommodation was $50 AUD total, including breakfast. We took a tour to ancient temples for $13 AUD total. I spent $20 AUD on a custom-made dress. Meals were around $12-20 AUD. We needed to get laundry done, so that cost $5. We had to take a taxi to and from the Danang Train Station, which totaled $47 AUD. And finally, we bought our train tickets to Dong Hoi for $23 AUD total.
How To Get Here: We took the train from Nha Trang to Danang for $30 each. This was an overnight train for 10 hours. You can fly to Danang from most major cities, or you can take a bus. From Danang, we needed to get into a taxi to drive into Hoi An, which is a 30-minute drive south. The taxi cost around $26 AUD. On the return taxi back to the train station, we got a good taxi with wifi service for $21 UAD. There’s no trains or airports near the city.
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at Phu Quy. It’s a really cute boutique hotel, about a 10 minute walk from the Old Town. The rooms were really spacious, had really great aircon and a huge bathroom/shower. Wifi could have been better though. They had a pool and great breakfast spread included with the price of the room. They also offered tours and free pushbikes to ride around the city. Standard Double Room = $25 AUD/night
What To Do:
Walk Around The Old Town: Walk around the Old Town. You’ll find plenty to do and see and shop. We walked across the An Hoi Bridge, hung around the Japanese Bridge and went shopping for custom-made clothes. There’s tons of cute rooftop bars near the river and alleyway cafes to choose from. The Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site in itself, so just walking around will leave you speechless. The buildings all look like they were left in its colonial state and with no motor vehicles allowed inside, it’s a really peaceful area.
My Son: We took a tour to the My Son Temples, which date back to the 12th century. It’s about an hour drive away, and absolutely filled with tourists, even in low season. I would still recommend it though! The ruins have been kept in really good shape, and they use your entrance fee as a way to continue the restoration process. For the transportation and entrance fee, it cost $12 AUD per person.
Custom-Made Clothes: If not for food, Hoi An is best known for its custom-made clothing stores. From coats to shoes to dresses, you can find pretty much anything you want made, and have it tailored to fit your body to the T. I ordered a backless garnet maxi dress, and picked it up within a few hours for just $20 AUD!
There’s a beach close by, but we didn’t have time to go see it! I hear it’s really nice. Also, I hear the cooking classes are an amazing experience to try. For $5, you learn how to cook the local foods and you also get to eat it afterwards!
Where To Eat/Drink:
Absolutely try the local dishes – Cau Lau (thick noodles with beef), White Rose (minced pork dumplings with garlic) and fried wontons. Hoi An also has a local, freshly-brewed beer, that tastes a bit like sour wheat, but you gotta try it. Especially when it only costs $.13 cents!
Hong Phuc 2 – Located right on the water’s edge, Hong Phuc offers one of the best set menus I have ever seen. We sat on the rooftop terrace, overlooking the river, on a pretty perfect night. I ordered one of their set menus, which included spring rolls, white rose, cau lau, fried wonton, grilled snapper in banana leaf, steamed vegetables, rice and chocolate banana panacake – FOR 7 DOLLARS! Sam ordered the BLT sandwich, and after seeng my set menu, he ordered one for himself as well! Highly recommended by us!
Café 43 – You may never hear of this place, but I had to give it its own special shoutout. Café 43 is just a few houses down from where our hotel was. They have really great chicken curry, white rose, cau lau, spring rolls and chicken with lemongrass and chili. Most meals cost between $1-6 AUD. They also offer pizza, pasta and hamburgers! You’ll know you’re at the right place if you see passport photos of hundreds of travelers on the tables who left them notes of gratitude for their wonderful food.
Cham Cham Bar – We spent our last night having drinks at Cham Cham Bar. They had a BOGO offer on Saigon that we couldn’t pass up. This bar is located on the main strip of backpackers bars on the An Hoi side of the river. While the other bars seemed slightly overpriced, we were content with our laidback music, friendly staff and $1.30 beers!
Have you been to Hoi An?
Comment below with any recommendations you have!