Early last year, when I decided to visit Vietnam, I decided to ask some travelling friends where I should visit. The same place appeared at the top of everyone’s list; Hoi An.
After spending just two nights in the chaotic Ho Chi Minh City, we took a flight to Da Nang and then took a taxi to our accommodation in the rice fields of Hoi An. At the airport we also picked up and befriended an Italian couple who were staying locally as transfer had failed to pick them up. I love the way often fate will throw unexpected things into your path whilst travelling. We ended up having some great conversations with this couple who were now living in Australia and they were very grateful of the lift.
Now, about the accommodation… Air BnB, in my opinion, is a wonderful concept. We have been very lucky (but also very through in our research of accommodation) and have always stayed in good accommodation, however the Rice Fields Homestay in Hoi An was a whole new level of excellence. Hanh, the owner, is a lively, warm vietnamese girl who is able to organise anything that you need, from booking taxis and massages to giving directions or recommendations. Her English is excellent and due to her British husband, the co-owner Mike, she speaks in a brilliantly British accent! Their house is stunning and spotlessly clean – not always the easiest to find in South East Asia! Located in the many rice fields of Hoi An, the area is so peaceful and I could have happily spent my whole summer here. In addition they have bicycles and scooters that you can rent whenever you like to navigate your way around Hoi An. Basically, if you’re visiting Hoi An, I would really recommend staying here. Based on two people sharing, you won’t pay much more (if any) than you would in a hostel and it includes an amazing breakfast. Below is the beautiful view from our room.
On our first morning in Hoi An, we decided to go for a massage. Many salons will pick you up from your accommodation and take you there for no extra charge. We had Asian Blend massages which were what you would imagine – a blend of Asian massage techniques, littered with compliments and cups of tea along the way. Revitalised, the salon then offered to drop us off in the centre of Hoi An and we decided it was coffee o’clock and bundled ourselves in to Hoi An Roasters. There are a couple of Hoi An Roasters dotted about the town but don’t let this put you off as the coffee is wonderful. We then headed into the old town, over the bridge and wandered through the little shops. Pictures speak 1000 words so I’m going to leave the pictures to do the talking here…
After having lunch with ‘fresh beer’ which cost around 20pence per cup, we headed back to our accommodation to pick up a bicycle. Fresh beer apparently used to be quite popular in Vietnam but is less popular now, if you can find it, I’d really recommend it. It’s fresh tasting (duh), light and cheap. We picked up our bicycles and had a sweaty bicycle ride in search of the beach… which we never found! However the cycle through the rice fields was lovely. We tried asking for the beach using the vietnamese translation in the guide book and everyone we asked looked extremely offended and sent us off in the wrong direction so we’re not quite sure what we actually asked for! Never mind – with the help of Hanh, we found the beach the next day.
After realising that cycling in the heat is quite hard work, especially when you’re prone to getting lost and that the persistent beeping of the horns on the roads is quite nerve wracking, we went to the beach by scooter the next day. The beach is lovely and I’d recommend that you walked down a little further than where all the tourists are sat and you’ll easily get a secluded spot. I took a walk and somehow managed to get lost on a straight beach – much of it looks the same! The restaurants on the beach front serve a lot of seafood and I replenished after my mishap adventure with a fresh coconut and prawns and avocado. We also noticed that they do yoga some mornings on this beach but unfortunately we weren’t able to attend as we needed to fly to our next destination before the next beachfront class. There was however a 5.30am class at the yoga studio the next morning that we optimistically tried to go to. At 5am we fired up the scooter and flew along the rice fields with our map in hand but once again we didn’t manage to find the class, as we didn’t want to head back yet we decided to make an early morning call to the beach which we imagined would be deserted. How wrong we were… At least 1000 local people were on the beach, swimming in the water or doing yoga or exercises on the sand! The Vietnamese certainly aren’t afraid of an early morning! I would really recommend trying to arrive at the beach at this time as it really is a spectacular sight to behold and we really felt a part of something special.
Shortly after this, we made our way to the airport and flew up north to Hanoi, making lots of promises to return to this beautiful part of the world as soon as we could.
So, to end , here’s our must see eat and drink places in Hoi An.
#1. Reaching Out Teahouse
Reaching Out Teahouse is a small Teahouse that is run by people with visual and hearing impairments. Because of this, they encourage silence and you are able to order your food using small little blocks with words on and visual clues. Lots of smiles and body language required! Not only is the place quaint and charming, the menu is also fabulous. You can order normal teas and coffees or a tea, coffee or cake tasting platter. We ordered two coffee tasting platters and cake one and they definitely didn’t disappoint.
#2. Morning Glory
For those who use trip advisor, this is rated up near the top and the queue was out of the door. However they were quickly able to find us a seat and the food was the best that I ate in Vietnam. I’d possible even go as far as saying its amongst the best food that I’ve ever had. It’s slightly, and I mean very slightly, more expensive than other places but still very cheap for such beautiful food. Follow this up with a stroll along the river and around the beautifully lit up Hoi An town in the evening and you really couldn’t ask for a better evening.
#3. Hanh’s breakfasts
Fresh fruit platters, the fluff heat omelettes and peanut butter on toast, served at whatever time you like, just ask the previous day. You basically just need to stay there if you’re lucky enough to visit Hoi An. We’re already planning our return trip!