When: Summer 2015
How long for: 4 days as part of a Southeast Asia trip
Hoi An is a beautiful little town in the middle of Vietnam and a stark contrast to some of it’s huge cities. Here are a few great things to do with your time in Vietnam:
5 – Get suited and booted
Ever wanted to have a suit that fits like a Bond suit but you have the budget of Mr Bean? Hoi An is the place for you!
Hoi An is famous for having brilliantly tailored suits for bargain prices compared to back home in the UK. I did some research as there are some really high end places right in the centre of Hoi An which looked great but I decided to go for Tony the Tailor after much deliberation.
The staff were great and took all my measurements before inviting me back for two fitting sessions. I picked my style, colour, fabric, lining and ended up purchasing a three piece suit, a pair of trousers and two fitted shirts for a really reasonable price
4 – Cycle to the beach
I enjoyed getting away from the craziness of some of the more urban areas. Hoi An is a great place to unwind and relax part way through any trip and prepare yourself for the next leg of your journey. One of the unplanned highlights of my time in Hoi An was hiring a pedal bike with no gears, brakes that barely worked and that seemed to struggle to take my weight. I just started cycling and never looked back, a little like Forest Gump on wheels. I cycled along the river away from Hoi An and towards the coast. The ride was so scenic, riding through the rice paddies and past the locals going about their everyday business. I headed towards Cua Dai Beach which was about a 5km ride. Thailand’s beaches always get the rave reviews but the beaches in Vietnam’s are hidden jewels. They are relatively empty but are pristine and the water is beautiful. I loved my day relaxing on the beach without a care in the world with a beer and book in hand. The cycle home was not as smooth…
3 – Hoi An Old Town tour
As with much of South East Asia there is a complex history and culture which you would be a fool to ignore. Hoi An has a particularly interesting history of occupation between Chinese, Japanese and Europeans. Buy a day ticket to the UNESCO World heritage old town to see the amazingly preserved houses. Take your pick on which ones to visit as they are all beautiful. I found the Japanese Covered bridge and Tan KY particularly informative and interesting. As all the sites are close by I cycled around on my pedal bike in my I love Vietnam vest, drinking local beers and eating Banh Mi’s in-between stops. I think I blended in quite well.
2 – Food, cafes and wanders
It might sound boring to some people but I found just wandering around the old town fascinating. I could have done this for days, discovering new places to eat and seeing new things each time. Take advantage of the food, the bets food I ate in Hoi An was at Bale Well. This place was not the easiest to find but it was more than worth it. As I sat down a beer was brought over to me alongside my satay, rice pancakes and spring rolls. There was no choice which was brilliant for someone as indecisive as me! The atmosphere was great and this is a must visit if you are in Hoi An. Hong Phuc 2 was also great for a papaya salad. During the evening be sure to wander between bars and take in the local entertainment outside Cargo club and light a lantern to release on the river. Now you will be fully relaxed.
1 – Drive the Hai Van Pass
Technically not in Hoi An but many people travel from North to South or South to North so this is a major part of the journey. This stretch of road is actually between Da Nang and Hue. This was a truly memorable experience and something I would definitely recommend. I actually first saw this on Top Gear and was in awe. You can either hire your own bike or there are many easy rider businesses which you can book the day before in Hoi An at one of the many tourist offices. The trip will take the majority of your day but is worth it. Upon leaving Hoi An make sure to visit the Marble mountains which are riddled with caves and Buddhist temples. As you start to ascend the Hai Van pass the views of the coast are great and when you reach the top the views are incredible and at the top you can investigate some outbuildings from the Vietnam war. Speak to the locals there to find out the historical significance of the Hai Van pass in the Vietnam War. Please make sure to stop off somewhere on your journey at one of the roadsides cafes where they will make you fresh sugar cane juice and again it is a great chance to learn some local swear words!