Hoi An captured my heart with its relaxed atmosphere, grand architecture, and the charming ancient town that I opted to stay here longer. I spent my days just strolling, biking around town, and hanging in the coffee shop. Yes, it is touristy like any other places in Vietnam, but despite the crowd, it feels like you are in your own little world. The place is bustling and yet tranquil at the same time. Not only that it has the things that I want to see in a place like rich culture, beautiful sights, great food, coffee, and beaches, but also, something is beguiling about the place.
Getting To Hoi An
Although, getting to Hoi An was quite harrowing, probably the longest 12-hours bus ride (from Nha Trang) I’ve ever been in. At first, I wondered about the bus from hell that people have been talking about. I thought they were just exaggerating until I’ve ridden the bus to Hoi An. Well, I didn’t believe it was that bad until we were on our way.
First, there were a lot of shouting, honking, and a grumpy assistant insisting what seat we must occupy. Second, we kept stopping for the first two hours to pick passengers even though the bus was full.
Moreover, I was in my own hell, trying to hold my bladder because I thought we would stop somewhere (Well, buses to Mui Ne and Nha Trang were comfortable with regular stops). I was about to beg the driver to stop for a moment because there was no way that I could hold it for 12 hours until I realized there was a bathroom at the back. However, to get to the toilet, I had to ask some passengers if I could climb over their beds because people were occupying the aisles. But using the bathroom meant I had to do some acrobatic balancing. Well, I succeeded and tried to get some rest.
Then I woke up freezing. So I looked for my blanket and ended up playing a tug-of-war over it, with a random guy sleeping on the aisle. I did come up the winner, though. If you have the moolah, I suggest flying. Once, I arrived in Hoi An, despite being exhausted, I was excited and ready for my next adventure, or misadventure.
Things To Do and See in Hoi An
Biking and Cycling
The best way to see the sights in Hoi An will be by motorbike or by bicycle. I prefer to do some cycling around the central town to the market and the ancient city; it also served as my exercise. But for places a bit far like the beach or to Danang, it’s better to use the motorcycle.
Hoi An Ancient Town
A UNESCO World Heritage Site where you could find Chinese temples, pagodas, Japanese inspired bridge, wooden house, and also French-colonial buildings and canals. It’s a charming place, where you can just hang out in coffee shops, do some shoppings, get some food or have a drink or two at night.
Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda
Well, it’s a Japanese-inspired bridge. But what fascinates me are seeing some couples in traditional dresses having their prenuptial photoshoot. It looks romantic somehow, despite the dark, murky water underneath.
Hoi An Water Puppet Show
Well, I have mixed feelings about it. However, my friend gave me the ticket as a treat, so I did see it. If you are interested in legends and history, then it is interesting to see. I enjoyed it for the most part.
Hoi An Roastery
Without coffee, I’m a little bit catatonic, so this was one of my favorite places to hang out in Hoi An. I had a tiny nook upstairs where I could read a book, sip a good coffee and sometimes just watch people passing by. I felt at home here. You should try all their coffees plus the coffee with scrambled egg or something.
An Bang Beach
The beach is crowded during the late afternoon. It seems that the locals, after a day’s work, decide to go to the beach and relax. However, I don’t understand why the crowd is gathered and congested in a particular part of the beach, after all, there is plenty of room to frolic around.
Bike around the riversides, where you can see plenty of market stalls, lined up next to the water or continue at the back and just enjoy the view off the beaten path.
It is the best place to go at night to buy some souvenirs such as colorful lanterns and also to get some food to eat.
Get a Tailor-made Couture
I was so ready with my design until I realized I could not afford them since I’ve been bingeing on coffee and some shopping. But the suits are not that expensive. So if you have the time for several fittings, you should get one.
Hoi An Cooking Schools
I’ve decided to forego the cooking lesson because I was hoping I could do it in another place. I’ve met some travelers, and they told me that it was one of the best things to do in Vietnam. Plus the food is delicious.
Danang is the third largest city in Vietnam, around 40-60 minutes bike ride from Hoi an. If you opted to ride a train or a plane, then Da Nang will be your port of entry and exit. It is a city with a few sightseeing spots to see. It will be great to check the place, just to enjoy the city’s beaches, restaurants, and some nightlife.
Two popular sightseeing spots will be the Marble Mountain and the Monkey Mountain. I was too tired to go back and check the Monkey Mountain, so it was only the Marble Mountain for me. Besides, as much as I love the architecture in Hoi an, I am not really into temples much.