The feature picture is pretty much Hoi An in a nutshell for me – pretty lights, bikes and straw hats!
The place is one of the most charming little towns I have ever been to and is absolutely serene. The ancient town is a UNESCO world heritage site and for good reason, the style and architecture you see from riding around the town reflects all different kinds of South East Asian architecture as many of these buildings date back many centuries. At some point the town fell into the pages of history and is relatively unaffected by the more recent history of Vietnam, leaving a living picture of what was the old Vietnam.
The best way to see the town is by bicycle, the inner part of the old town is limited to only cycles and foot traffic meaning the pace is quite slow and leaves tourists to browse the many quaint little cafes, restaurants, tailors and handicraft goods stores; all of which are adorned by pretty little paper lanterns which glow all warm colours at night.
Now the nightlife isn’t too crazy and nor should it be, Hoi An is a very relaxed placed and so should the bars. I really liked the Dive Bar as it had a really nice chill vibe and some really good live music by these two frenchies who do an awesome rendition of Chocolate Jesus! They also have shisha and some comfy lounges to wile the night away.
Because there is a curfew at 12 midnight and all the establishments close down, the streets are empty but the lights are still on, I found myself just cruising the empty streets all to myself on the bike – the feeling is incredible and almost magical.
Hoi An is also known for its tailors; you can have pretty much anything made in any style with any fabric for what is a relatively cheap price. You also don’t have to put down a deposit so you only have to buy it if you are happy with your tailored goods – which most people are, they end up buying several outfits, even shoes. Sadly for me my backpack is getting a little full and have quite the number of suits already back home, so I settle on buying a cheap conical straw hat!
Apparently I blend in quite well with the locals, as again I am getting spoken to quite often in Vietnamese (I can respond well enough to know that they are just saying good morning, how are you etc.). But the hat also servers a dual purpose; it started to rain incessantly on the other days, nothing too harsh but a constant slow downpour and so my straw hat was also waterproof and kept me dry without a cumbersome rain poncho. Also adds style points.
Sadly apart from biking around town there isn’t all too much to do in Hoi An when its raining. There is of course the local cuisine which you could try (Cao Lau & White Rose dumplings are the specialty) and also sip down lots of Ca Phe Sua Da and some great Banh Mi! One day we were set on seeing the Marble Mountains by motorbike (its a 30min drive away) but our moto skill and the slippery roads meant we would rather not risk it, and so we had a spa day (what a tweeeeeest). The asian blend massage did pretty well to work out all the knots and muscles I had worn out from several kms of biking around town.
I had a really chill time here and it was relieving to know that little places like this still exist. Although tourism is on the up and up and cannot be helped, I still hope the town can retain its charm and still be peaceful and serene as it has for many centuries. Hoi An is an absolute must recommend, I am a little sad I didn’t get to spend more time here as I did not check out the My Son temple or any of the beaches but I guess thats for next time!