A Food & Travel Blog

Vietnam Travels – Hoi An

03/11/2014 | By

Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An, Vietnam

Now that we’ve been there, I’m a little disappointed that it took us so long to visit Vietnam, but I suppose kids, dogs, horses and a farm are all fairly effective brakes on one’s travelling plans. And while, once I got there, I had every intention of lying around in the resort, the Han Market at Da Nang was not the only place I visited. Loads of friends told me I just had to get to the pretty town of Hoi An. So I did.

Local trader, Hoi An, Vietnam

Local trader, Hoi An, Vietnam

Charming old building, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Charming old building, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hoi An was a major trading port back in the 15th century. Sitting beside the placidly rolling Thu Bon river, the city has managed to retain the graceful charm of it’s past, while avoiding the frantic traffic that one finds elsewhere in Vietnam. The name Hoi An means “peaceful meeting place” and nothing could be more apt for this quietly elegant town which seems almost dozy after the wild streets of Da Nang.

Bridge over Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Bridge over Thu Bon River, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Here you can walk the streets without fear of being knocked over and, if the heat proves a little too tiresome, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to drop in to. In fact, we had some of the best food we ate in Vietnam in one or two of these spots. We had lunch in Hoi An twice – yes, so much for lying around in the resort – once in the Morning Glory and once in the Mermaid. Both were highly recommended to us and both served exceptionally fresh food at outrageously cheap prices. The Bloke and I fed ourselves handsomely and both enjoyed large, icy cold beers for less than $25 for the two of us.

Stunning prawn salad, Mermaid Restaurant, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Stunning prawn salad, Mermaid Restaurant, Hoi An, Vietnam.

I developed an addiction to Vietnamese pancakes - this example was from Mermaid Restaurant, Hoi An, Vietnam.

I developed an addiction to Vietnamese pancakes – this example was from Mermaid Restaurant, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Of course, there are also the street food vendors who, like the rest of the populace, seemed to be among the friendliest and most good-natured people I have ever come across.

Street food vendor, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Street food vendor, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Like the rest of the country, Hoi An is hot and steamy, but remarkably clean. It seems to have escaped the ravages of water and air pollution that curse many other Asian cities. Peculiarly, the locals seem to think otherwise and a huge proportion of them get about in long sleeves, long pants, thick socks and with scarves wrapped around their heads and mouths in what I can only assume is an effort to stay clean. Given that I was “feeling the heat” (men and horses sweat, ladies feel the heat) from the moment I stepped out of the airconditioning and swooning by the middle of the day, I found this a little perplexing.

The local approach to electrical wiring is casual, to say the least, Hoi An, Vietnam.

The local approach to electrical wiring is casual, to say the least, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Hoi An, Vietnam

Japanese covered bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam

Nets on the river, Hoi an, Vietnam

Nets on the river, Hoi an, Vietnam

We were staying about a 40 minute drive away, in Da Nang, but here’s plenty to do around here, so next time I’d aim to spend a few days in the town where there are any number of B and B’s, guest houses or hotels. As I said, the local food is fantastic and there are several different cooking schools which hold classes for tourists in the town. If you are into shopping, then Hoi An won’t disappoint as it is also known for it’s low-cost tailors and shoe makers. Take favourite clothes to be copied or pick something on the spot and it can be finished and delivered in a magically short amount of time – however, it does pay to get a recommendation from someone to ensure reasonable quality workmanship.

In case just wandering the pretty streets and stopping periodically to refresh yourself doesn’t appeal, it’s simple and cheap to get out of the old quarter and explore the region by bicycle, motorcycle or kayak, alone or with a tour group. There are plenty of small shops offering tours all around the town. The Thu Bon river is still essential for food and transport so, for the more lethargic among us (yes, I’m including myself there) a languid boat ride up the river is the perfect way to watch local life while staying in a more relaxed zone.

Shopping, Hoi An, Vietnam.

Shopping, Hoi An, Vietnam.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Lizzy (Good Things)
    03/11/2014

    Oh Amanda, Vietnam is on our bucket list too… definitely going to visit one day… love this post, thanks so much for sharing your trip!

  2. Hotly Spiced
    03/11/2014

    I haven’t been to Vietnam and I’d love to visit the country one day. Those electricity wires are alarming! I wouldn’t want to have the job of trying to sort them out if a blackout occurred! It’s lovely to hear how friendly the street vendors are xx

  3. Helen | Grab Your Fork
    03/11/2014

    Loved my time spent in Vietnam, especially the food! And the people are incredibly resourceful and resilient. Very inspiring.

  4. Anna @ shenANNAgans
    04/11/2014

    BOOM! Vietnam is top of the bucket list, looks like such a cool country and the people, well they are just so gorgeous. Love this post so much, cant wait to get my travel on. Thanks so much for sharing your trip lovely. 🙂

  5. InTolerant Chef
    04/11/2014

    I’ve always wanted to visit Vietnam, thanks for reminding me to keep saving! X

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    04/11/2014

    It’s such a great country to visit-Mr NQN is dying to visit one day! Love the street vendors 🙂

  7. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
    04/11/2014

    Ever since my first husband died there, I’ve wanted to visit Vietnam. This post only reinforced that. 🙂

  8. Padaek
    04/11/2014

    Such a pretty/languid town. Does look aptly named, and love the look of the water/river there. Cant wait to visit Vietnam and will definitely add Hoi An to the itinerary. Funny about the heat – perhaps the locals are just used to it, or an icy cold drink is always closeby? Beautiful photos, as always. Best wishes! 😀

  9. Hotly Spiced
    04/11/2014

    Hmmm, I was given an email notification of a Nova Scotia post and this post came up and I was quite confused as I’m quite sure Nova Scotia and Vietnam have little in common. Then I got the email notification for this post so here I am! xx

  10. Tania @My Kitchen stories
    05/11/2014

    I love Vietnam. Definatley wildly busy and excrutiatingly hot but I loved every minute of my 2 trips there. .

  11. Louis Greg
    27/05/2015

    I visited Vietnam a year ago, it was one of the best moments of my life. Everything I needed in a vacation spot Vietnam is truly an amazing place. I will definitely revisit as soon as possible. 🙂

  12. Fiona
    04/09/2015

    I’ve visited Vietnam 3 times and Hoi An is always the favorite destination. The beauty of ancient town is really different that you hard to find anywhere else.

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