Hoi An is one of the prettiest places I’ve seen. The quaint yellow streets of the Old Town are lit up by silk lanterns every night, and colourful wooden boats sail along the river all day. It’s the perfect place for us, despite the the tail-end of ta Philippines typhoon hitting Vietnam and bringing torrential rainfall for the whole time we were there!
The rain didn’t spoil our stay, just made it a little more difficult. When we arrived it was literally flooded – the river had overflowed badly making it impossible to walk up some streets, and with the rain showing no sign of letting up we were worried the whole town was going to be a washout. The locals weren’t phased though – we later learned they’re used to dealing with far worse floods. One of the museums had markings on the wall to show the level that the water rose to in previous years – some of them were above my head! There are so many shops and restaurants by the river that must be devastated by the floods every year but the people seem to just get on with it.
We had one dry day out of four, which we took advantage of by renting bikes and cycling to the beach about twenty minutes outside of the town. Most hotels and hostels in Hoi An offer bike rental either for free or very cheap, we got them for $1 a day.
The beach itself was small, but it was good to see as it was the first time we made it to a beach in two months of travelling! The ride there was the fun part as the country roads leading to the beach are really scenic, and it was cool getting to explore the Vietnamese countryside. We saw lots of farmers and fishermen at work and even met a really friendly cow!
Hoi An’s Old Town is a UNESCO listed world heritage site, and while you don’t need a ticket to wander round its cobbled streets, you do need one if you want to enter any of the museums or historical buildings located within. This only costs 120,000 Dong (about £4.20) and you get five tickets, which you can use in any of the sites in the Old Town. I don’t think this is a must do but it’s a bargain, and got us out of the rain!
One more thing that Hoi An is famous for is its tailors; walking around it seems like every other shop is one! You can go in, show them a photo or design of what you want made, then they take your measurements and whip it up in less than 24 hours! I think the quality of materials etc. varies between stores, but you get what you pay for and you should always get shown a range of materials first anyway. However I hear that they’re mostly pretty good, and Hoi An is known as the best place to get clothes made in South East Asia. I treated myself to a tailor made dress as I wanted something to take home with me, and I’m really happy with the quality of it!
Have you been to pretty Hoi An? What did you think?