We spent five days in Hoi An and when it was time to say goodbye, I didn’t feel ready to leave. I was completely taken in by the relaxed atmosphere and picturesque streets but when it’s come to put together a blog post, I’ve felt a little lost for words. I don’t want to reduce Hoi An to a series of sharply curated bullet points about the best things to do, see and eat. Instead, I’m going to capture how we spent our time and why I loved it so much by taking a stroll down memory lane…
I was still suffering with the back end of a cold when we arrived in Hoi An so maybe this is why the gentler vibe of the Old Town appealed to me so much. It almost reminded me of Southern Europe with brightly coloured buildings draped in flowers and bicycles replacing the chaotic traffic. While it’s easily one of the most touristy towns in Vietnam, Hoi An doesn’t feel overwhelming like Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi sometimes can.
Even though it’s partially obscured by cables, I kind of love this photo below. It’s the view from our lovely hotel-like room at Golden Bee Homestay. Here, we’d eat delicious pancakes each morning while chatting to our lovely host family. It was on this balcony that we (Jamie) finally set free a huge spider – after spending two hours bickering about how to rid of it. I nervously practiced my bike-riding skills for the first time in years along this road. I’d even consider it moderately successful as I wobbled my way down a busy main road to An Bang beach!
We had planned to do quite a few things in Hoi An but in the end, we let most of them slide in favour of relaxation. Instead of getting clothes tailored from one of the hundreds of dressmakers lining the streets, we sought out cute bookshops. We meandered along the river, admiring the brightly coloured boats moored along the edge. Our plans to take a cooking class stalled as we ate our way around the city and enjoyed gelato day and night. We did check out the Japanese Covered Bridge, an iconic eighteenth century attraction. But while it was undeniably lovely, it was so packed full of tourists that we quickly made our escape. We spent our evenings wandering the streets, enjoying how the famous lanterns lit up the alleys.
Me being me, finding great food was a must-do and Hoi An did not disappoint. Staying on the outskirts of town turned out to be a great idea when we discovered a nearby street full of veggie restaurants. While one of them served up the worst tofu I’ve ever tasted (if it’s still white and wobbly, don’t go near it), we enjoyed heaps of spring rolls and local speciality Cao Lau. As the noodle dish is created using water from a special well, you can only find it in Hoi An.
We also discovered the best faux chicken drumsticks ever in Karma Waters, a Vietnamese-Western vegan restaurant. Imagine the most tender chicken flavoured with lemongrass and they’d somehow created it from tofu! I honestly still think about how good they were on an embarrassingly regular basis. Anthony Bourdain’s recommendation for the best Banh Mi in Vietnam – Banh Mi Phuong – is in Hoi An and we went back more than once. You can’t have too much good food right?
It’s easy to fall in love with this picturesque town and looking back over my photos now, I’m longing to go back to those sunny days. It was Hoi An that made me really start to enjoy Vietnam, that made me fall in love with the food and the crowded streets. Remembering Hoi An in such a lovely way makes me realise that it’s okay if your plans don’t quite pan out. It’s okay that we chose to spend more time chilling out than racing from attraction to attraction. Take the time to sit, eat ice cream and relax – how can that ever be a bad thing?
Have you ever been to Hoi An? Did you love it as much as me? Or is it on your bucket list?
READ MORE ABOUT VIETNAM:
Disclosure: This page uses affiliate links. If you make a booking through one of these links, I may receive a small % of commission at no additional cost to you.