Located on Vietnam’s central coast, the town of Hội An is one incredible place. Brightly coloured buildings, to-die-for food and friendly locals, are just the start of the many amazing things this small town has to offer.
Well-known for it’s fantastically preserved ancient town, Hội An was once the Southeast Asian trading port between the 15th-19th centuries. Differing cultural influences are prominent here, with French, Japanese, Chinese and of course Vietnamese, all impacting Hội An’s history, especially seen in the architecture.
Originally booking for only four days, we knew as soon as we arrived we had to stay longer. Eight days later, and we were fully relaxed and had truly soaked up the beauty of Hội An.
How to Get There
Flying to Da Nang Airport is the easiest way to get to Hội An. We flew from Ho Chi Minh City on Jetstar for a crazy cheap price. The trip from Da Nang to Hội An is only a 30 – 45 minute drive and you can easily get a taxi from the airport. Make sure you check my previous travel tips post to find out why you should be cautious while catching a cab in Vietnam. Your hotel will sometimes offer airport transfers and will pick you up, which tends to make things much easier.
Where to Stay
We stayed in a lovely family run hotel called The Earth Villa, which is located just a five minute drive and 20 minute walk from the Ancient Town. With delicious breakfast, a glistening pool, traditional yet modern rooms, and great service, the hotel is a sanctuary for relaxation for only around $30 – $50 (AUD) a night.
Where to Eat
Hội An was packed with incredible restaurants and cafes, all boasting fresh and mouth-wateringly good food. Here are some of the fab spots I recommend you go:
- Red Dragon – Best veggie curry ever!
- Mermaid – The prawn and green mango salad is a must try.
- Hai Cafe – Try the Hoi An pancakes.
- Bahn Mee Phuong – World famous for it’s amazing Banh Mee.
- Cocobox – Green juices, Vietnamese coffee and delish healthy snacks.
- Miss Ly – Yum watermelon juice and squid and shrimp noodles.
- Cargo Club – If you’re craving a Vietnamese/Western mix at it’s finest.
- Morning Glory – Fantastic traditional food.
What to Do
Walk Around the Town
Pop your walking shoes on and go and explore! There are so many lovely side streets to discover in Hội An and the ancient town is a beautiful gem to spend time in. The Japanese Covered Bridge and the Quan Cong Temple will be two sights you’ll come across while you venture around. If walking isn’t your thing, you can usually hire bikes or a scooter from your hotel at a very reasonable price.
At night, lanterns brighten up the streets in the ancient town and around the Hội An bridge. If you’re lucky enough to be in Hội An on the 14th day of the lunar month, the town turn off the electric lights and let the coloured lanterns shine. It’s truly magical.
Shop, Shop, Shop
I love shopping in different countries and discovering unique designers and brands I’d never heard of before. The shopping certainly didn’t slow down for me in Hội An. The town has many little boutiques maxed out with beautiful clothes, accessories and items for the home, such as handmade ceramic plates and bowls. There’s also a huge market within the ancient town with food, flowers, many souvenirs, including lanterns.
One shop I spent hours in was Metiseko. The certified organic brand is purely Vietnamese and is not hard to come by with three shops in the town selling gorgeously crafted clothes and homewares. Everything in Metiseko is to die for. Their products are made from raw materials such as organic cotton and natural silk which are sourced and produced locally, and the prints all tell a different story about Vietnamese culture. I will put a post up soon to show you the divine jacket I bought from the store.
Visit a Tailor
Home to hundreds of tailors, Hội An is the place to get something made in Vietnam. Of course, like with everything while travelling, make sure you do your research. Some tailors will differ considerably in price. The lower prices may seem attractive, but watch out as the quality tends to not be as good. We chose to go to Bebe, one of the best tailors in the town, and yes we paid a bit more, but we received excellent service and great quality clothing. Yaly and A Dong Silk Tailors are also another two tailors with good reputations.
Free Bike Tour
Riding around on a bike is a great way to see Hội An. We went on a free bike tour one Sunday morning with local university students who took us around to authentically experience life in Vietnam and it’s culture. The three to four hour tour included a bike ride around the rice paddies, a trip to the Carpentry Village, a straw mat making demonstration, and a snack at a house of a local family, where we also learnt how to make rice paper. The tour was an insightful half-a-day out, and lots of fun!
Hội An was my favourite place to visit during our time in Asia. I’m so excited to share some of the many shots we captured so hopefully you’ll feel inspired to visit. I know we’ll definitely be back.