When I think about our recent trip to Vietnam, Hoi An is one place that stands out. A place I definitely want to get back to and a place that has to make it onto your itinerary when you are visiting Vietnam.
Often when we go on backpacking trips we have a list full of places we want to see. We usually however, do not fully plan our itinerary. We have a rough outline which ensures that we have an idea of the place which we are travelling to but still leaves room to follow our feelings, tips of locals or fellow backpackers. And most importantly it leaves room for the freedom to decide to stay in one place a bit longer and therefore maybe skip another one.
Hoi An was one of the places where we decided to just stay a little longer, to give ourselves the chance to get our head around the place and to relax. Being a fairly small city it is easy enough to navigate but still provides all the comforts.
2. It is a great place to get anything tailormade
I knew in advance that I wanted to get something tailor made in Hoi An, so I started looking around on Pinterest for designs and ideas. However, I did not expect to leave with a jumpsuit, a dress and two backpacks on top. For my jumpsuit I paid around 40 USD, the dress was roughly 20 and my small backpack 60 and the big one 75.
I am still very happy with the things that I got made and especially love my backpacks. I got my backpacks made at the "I love shoes" shop and would definitely recommend them!
I recommend though, having a very clear idea of what you want and to bring pictures with you. I also looked around on TripAdvisor to check out which tailors had good recommendations. Oh, and also consider leaving space for some things before you pack your bag at home. I did not and ended up having to fight with my backpack everytime I repacked it.
3. You have the river AND the beach
Life in Hoi An seems to be centered around the river. But it is easy to hire a bike and within 20 minutes you'll be at the beach. The bikes costed us 20.000 Vietnamese Dong for a whole day.
Hoi An is a city of lights. At night the streets come alive with many many colourful lanterns. And the river is lit up by many little candles floating along. It looks magical. Go for a boat ride and enjoy the view from the water.
5. Good Coffee
Coffee is a Vietnamese specialty and while I have met many people loving Vietnamese coffee, it is just not for me. Hoi An has a fair range of cafés serving good western-style coffee. Cocobox was my favorite one. I could have easily spend hours just sitting in the café, reading my book and watching life on the street.
6. Parts of the city are pedestrian zones
After a few weeks in South East Asia the constant sound of noisy scooters almost becomes a background sound you hardly notice. However, wandering through the pedestrian zone in Hoi An feels like a nice, relaxing break from the noise.
7. We had the best free breakfast
We stayed at the Sunflower Hotel where we paid 22 USD for a double room. The room was clean and the hotel has a pool. The best thing about it was the breakfast. It was a buffet breakfast offering pancakes, freshly made omelettes, cereal and, and, and. It was definitely the best free breakfast we had in Vietnam.
Hoi An is a very colourful city and will make you want to stop at every corner to take pictures. It's easy to spend hours just strolling through the city marvelling at all the colourful buildings, nice little shops and lanterns.