The first time I came to Vietnam I only ventured as far as Ho Chi Minh City. While I had a lot of fun I wouldn’t have considered Vietnam my favorite country. So when I told people our plans for the first two months of traveling I was a bit shocked that so many stopped me to gush about Vietnam. Sure enough we made our way to Ho Chi Minh and I liked it. I was happy to revisit the same Pho place I had eaten at last time, I even got to see some sights I didn’t make it to last time. All in all my feelings for Vietnam remained the same great but not my favorite country we had visited.
That all changed the minute we got to Hoi An.
Hoi An is everything I had imagined Vietnam to be all those years ago. It was quaint, filled with charm, great food and amazing colors. It seemed to be the counterpart to Ho Chi Minh’s stark grey pallette. We walked and stumbled upon flamingo pink churches, up a head a conscious bright red temple and of course the unassuming faded canary yellow walls we see so often. The colors and details made the city feel more alive than a city booming with skyscrapers.
So here is quietly without notice, Vietnam started to become my favorite Southeast Asian country.
If you are making your way to Vietnam than you must visit Hoi An. It has the prettiest Unesco World Heritage Ancient town. A beautiful countryside best viewed whizzing by on a bike. Amazing cosines that makes you feel as tough your own grandmother is cooking for you while still remaining fun and exotic. All of which you will find in my Ultimate Guide to Hoi An 2018 edition.
Ultimate Guide to Hoi An
Where to Stay
I would recommend staying in Ancient Town. In ancient town is where a lot of the historical sights are and is a good location for those wanting to get around on foot. You could stay in the beach area but again you’d need a bike/scooter. We stayed at the Nova Villa and it was simple, clean and the staff was amazing. If you are looking for a budget accommodations I would highly recommend them. Keep in mind Vietnam hotels are pretty cheap which makes this a great city to visit where you will get more bang for your buck.
Mid Tier ($100+)
Where to eat
Miss Ly Cafeteria – Great place to taste Hoianian flavors at reasonable prices.
Morning Glory – Tradtional Vietnamese food in a cosy setting
Aubergine49 – Offers up Euroasian cusine for when you feel like a splurge
Ancient Faifo – Minutes from the Japanese covered bridge, it’s filled with antiques and yummy food.
Orivy Hoi An’s – Hidden in a secluded garden this budget friendly menu is perfect place to escape the crowds.
Khong Cam Quan Restaurant – Well known local hangout featuring budget eats.
Good Morning Vietnam – Italian joint thats offers the best pizza and pasta in Hoi An.
Reaching Out Teahouse – Run by the hearing and speech impaired this silent teahouse is a great spot to escape the crowded streets.
Top Things to See
Learn to cook traditional Vietnamese food in Hoi An. There are a ton of great cooking schools to choose from and its the best way to try local delicacies. Great for families too we love taking cooking classes abroad. Find some cooking classes HERE.
Get Something Tailor Made
Hoi An is one of the best places to get stuff tailored made. While still cheaper than US standards we did’nt find it exactly cheap. While you can go to the market and get things made for $10-30 USD, if you go to a shop it will cost you more. I had seen an American Eagle maxi skirt I wanted and everywhere I went it was $50USD or higher ( BTW skirt cost way less on their website). Just make sure you shop around.
See the Japanese Bridge
This is the only covered bridge in the world to house a buddhist temple. Plus its beautiful. Head there early in day to avoid crowds.
See the Countryside
Hoi An is more than its ancient town in fake there is a whole lot more to see. There are a ton of cycling and trekking companies that will take you out. We did a bike tour with Heaven and Earth and had so much fun. We did a slow paced ride that was perfect for all ages and endurances. If you want to kick things up a bit they have even more intense rides so give them a look. Heaven and Earth info HERE.
See the Lantern Market
At night, An Hoi which is across the river from the central Hoi An, lights up with the silk lanterns. It is so stunning and well worth a visit.
Do a Beach Day at An Bang Beach
While not Hoi An’s most popular beach its way less crowded so you can actually relax. Still as beautiful as Cua Dai you’ll find pristine white sand beaches here too.
See Thu Bon River
Thu Bon is the river that runs along Hoi An ancient town. Walk along the river to see traditional vietnamese workers and see the stunning old buildings. Stick around for sunset.