Everyone I’ve spoken to who has visited Hoi An agrees that there’s something charming about this town.
Cute cafés and restaurants line the riverbank
Once home to one of the busiest harbours of the 1st century, Hoi An has seen massive influence from the Chinese and Japanese and therefore this port town’s architecture is a lovely blended cultural mix.
A delicious bánh xèo meal at Bale Well, down an alley
At night time especially there is a magical vibe as lanterns float along the river and hang from stores – buying a few for yourself to take home is pretty tempting!
Lanterns float along at night time
Staying a couple days is OK but you’ll probably want to be here longer and if you are in town below are a few suggestions for ways to get started with your time in Hoi An.
Hire a bike
Getting around on two wheels is the way to go, start with the historic old town centre and pay a visit to the beautiful Japanese bridge.
Later, you might want to peddle to a nearby beach for some relax time and swim to burn off the amount of delicious Vietnamese cuisine you’ve been ingesting.
Attend a cooking class
Although we made a few dishes, I was most excited about cooking bánh xèo – a savoury yellow pancake which usually has pork and prawns as filling in addition to sprouts/greens.
Served with a chilli dipping sauce it is perfectly crunchy and so tasty!
Shamefully I can’t for the life of me remember which class we attended but there are quite a variety on offer in Hoi An so finding one shouldn’t be too hard!
Visit the My Son ruins
About 30 kilometres from Hoi An are the My Son ruins.
Built between the 4 – 14th centuries they are some of the oldest in the region and belong to the Cham people, a minority group in the country today.
The best part of the day was our guide, living through the Vietnam War his real stories of what it was like to grow up in a war zone were truly both fascinating and heartbreaking.
Many of the ruins were in fact destroyed by bombing during the war so some of the sites have been reconstructed.
Get some custom made clothes
Hoi An is renowned for its tailors and many visitors here indulge in some made to fit shopping.
With so many stores to choose from it comes as no surprise that the tailoring business has been associated with scams. Refers (eg. locals or even your hotel) often get a commission for their troubles, which pushes prices up.
That being said, at the end of the day (depending on where you come from) a customer is still going to pay far less for a custom made dress or jacket in Hoi An than for example, they would in Australia and as for the quality – that really comes down to the tailor in my opinion.
I got a dress and jacket made at Yaly Couture and both are still going strong over a year later.
I brought in pictures of what I wanted and changed the colour of the fabric but otherwise it looked exactly as I desired. It was a really cool experience getting to pick out all the details from the lining to buttons!
Make sure you’re in Hoi An for at least a couple days though since you may need to go back in for fittings but both of my garments fit perfectly.
Also, don’t discredit the ready to wear stores that line Hoi An’s streets too – I picked up some great deals for cute summer dresses and even a ball gown for $25 USD!