Hoi An is famous for its ancient town, which is well-preserved and with a touch of Venice as it is cut through with many canals. The city has an attractive architecture with a mixture of various styles and eras. The pedestrian friendly Old Town invites visitors for a walk through wooden Chinese shophouses, temples, colourful French colonial buildings, ornated Vietnamese tube houses and not to forget the famous Japanese Covered Bridge.
This is the final post on my Blog series about a roundtrip in northern and middle Vietnam. All essential travel information on this trip you can find in the first Blog of this series.
Where to stay in Hoi An?
As in any other major city in Vietnam you can find a huge variety of all sorts of accommodation also in Hoi An. A bit out of the center of Hoi An and all along the coastline on the way to Danang you have plenty of beautiful beach properties all settled on vast and unspoilt beaches. Please see my separate post on the newly opened Bliss Hoi An Hotel.
But coming back to the city now – we stayed at the tropical Mulberry Collection Silk Village Hotel www.silkvillage.mulberrycollectionvn.com
The hotel is spread around a wonderful garden area. It is a bit away from the Old Town in a quiet neighbourhood – but the hotel offers a free shuttle bus for its guests to the center.
Most of the rooms are located in two-story bungalow blocks (ours was a Villa Suite Pool View room) and have either a balcony or a terrace. Interior is simple, but rooms are spacious and very clean. There are also standard rooms in the main hotel building.
The hotel has two swimming pools, a gym and a heavenly Spa. All nestled into the exotic garden structure.
Breakfast and all other meals are served in the main restaurant located at the reception building. The breakfast had many local and international items. I loved the selection of tropical fruits plus the sweet Vietnamese breakfast specialities.
Another interesting feature of the hotel is the adjoining Silk Village, which is also open for non-hotel guests. Here you can learn all about the manufacturing of silk – starting from the silk moth until the ready products – and of course not necessary to mention that you can buy all kind of silk products here as well.
What to do?
Wander around the ancient town of Hoi An
Hoi An is a real melting pot of various cultures and styles and it will stimulate all your senses. Forget a map or any fixed plan – just walk around and soak in the unique atmosphere of an ancient, but still very vibrant town.
There are lots of temples, small museums and local shops to explore. On your walk around you may notice some marks on the outside walls of some of the houses – these are flood marks, as the city gets flooded almost every year during the monsoon time – so it is even more stunning that this old town has survived until today.
A walk through the town during the day is nice, but much better to do it at night, when hundreds of lanterns and lampions get enlightened. On the main canal you will be stunned by a sea of lights and colours. Jump into one of the many lantern boats for a small cruise around. On my first night in Hoi An I thought that they celebrate a special festival here – but no, this spectacle is on every single night!!!!
Beside all that shiny glory Hoi An is also a hotspot for foodies – there is an endless variety of street food over here – cold, hot, grilled, boiled, fried, iced …..name it you have it all!!!
For a nice, seated dinner you can also choose from a big variety of restaurants – a lot of them located in historic buildings with charming terraces or balconies. One that stands a bit out of the rest and that is well-known for its quality and highly creative food is the – Morning Glory Original Restaurant.
After dinner the Indochina styled coffee shops or one of the many bustling bars are a good pitstop on the way back to the hotel.
What to do around Hoi An?
Explore the mystical ruins of My Son Sanctuary
Between the 4th and 13th centuries an unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site nowadays.
The ruins that can be visited are remote and surrounded by jungle. From the visitor centre you will be driven in small electrical cars to the main excavation site. You can then walk around on your own, but better to take a guide to learn more about this fascinating and mystical Champa Kingdom.
Please see below picture show for a small tour through these picturesque ruins:
After your walk back in time you have the possibility to watch a short dance performance. It is very touristic on one side, however offers on the other side an interesting insight into the ancient Champa culture.
If you have booked your tour in Hoi An through a local tour agent you will have most probably on your way back a visit to a local farm. The local farmers will show you a bit from their daily work. In our case it was a very nice lady, who was demonstrating how to make rice paper, which is an important ingredient in every Vietnamese kitchen.
Famous Pho Noodle – the all-time favourite breakfast and lunch dish!
Take a ride through the Vietnamese countryside and stay dry on board of a bamboo boat
Most of the tour agents in Hoi An offer some kind of eco-countryside tour. As with so many things in Vietnam once again this is a very mass tourism activity – nevertheless in this case you really learn quite a lot about the rural life and you have some fun activities included as well.
If you like to experience such a tour I can recommend you to book that with Jack Trans Tours www.jacktrantours.com – they have quite funny and dedicated staff and yes, some of them you can call a bit crazy – in a nice way.
We did the Farming and Fishing Life Eco Tour. The first part of the tour is on bicycle. You will stop at a local village, where they show you some insights into the local farming. You will see how they prepare their land for sowing, how they fertilize the garden with seaweed from the local river and how they are watering the plants with cans strapped to their back. If you want, you can give a helping hand here as well.
You will then continue the ride through the picturesque countryside and do some further stops for getting to know to the local community.
Second part of the tour is by boat to witness the local fishermen how they work with the traditional net-fishing method – you can try that yourself as well.
Afterwards the fun starts when you board on the instable local bamboo basket boats. The boat crew will take you on a race down a coconut palm lined waterway (that actually has a dark history in the times of the Vietnam War, when the Viet Cong was hiding here).
Back on board lunch is served before the tour returns back to Hoi An.
If you have more nights in Hoi An a visit to the Hoi An Memories Show can be a nice thing. This is a huge open-air dance and light performance show – for more information check www.hoianmemoriesland.com
So that´s it with our trip through amazing Vietnam – what´s left now? Some well-deserved days on the beach I would say – just to relax and to reflect all that new impressions and experiences of a purely unique journey.
For my review on the Bliss Beach Hotel please see the following post.
Some last impressions on Hoi An: