Hoi An is situated on the central coast of Vietnam and has to be one of the most beautiful little towns we’ve ever visited (Kampot gives it a run for its money!). From markets to beaches to pagodas and the best ice-cream in the country (as voted by Gavin, and he sampled plenty!), Hoi An has something for everyone.
Fly into Da Nang and take the 40 minute taxi ride to Hoi An. We stayed a little out of the town centre at the Sunshine Hotel and for just $28 a night it was incredible – buffet breakfast every morning with omelettes made-to-order, a huge pool, king size beds, cheap laundry and bikes for hire. Staying a bit further out meant that we walked into town every day and saw the outskirts rather than just sticking to the centre, which was a great way to see local life. Spend your first day wandering the town, popping into tailors and getting measured up for your new tailor-made suit or summer dress (to allow the time to complete them before you leave) and then complete your day with dinner by the river (a little pricier but a beautiful view) and a stroll across the bridge to the night market, where you’ll find a great atmosphere and colourful lanterns galore.DAY 2
On your first day be sure to book a My Son Ruins half-day tour through your hotel or any little agency you see downtown. There’s a few to choose from, but we highly recommend the sunrise tour – it included 5am pick-up from our hotel, breakfast, the 35 kilometre minibus ride out there, a guided tour and return to Hoi An. We’ll be honest, our guide was terrible and the breakfast was a little (very) hard to stomach at that time of the morning, but wandering around the ruins while the sun is rising is nothing short of magical. The early rise is worth it as you avoid the swarms of tourists that begin to arrive around 9am (we saw them on our way out!). On the drive back you’ll have the option to continue in the van or jump out and take a boat ride back to Hoi An, of which we chose the latter. The boat ride is a beautiful way to see more of the area, and drops you right at a market where you can grab some lunch before getting your culture fix crossing the Japanese Covered Bridge, and continuing on with a visit to Quan Cong Temple. Sample some of Hoi An’s traditional delicious food tonight, trying Cau Lao and white rose.DAY 3
On your last day in Hoi An, hire a bike and ride out to An Bang or Cua Dai beach for a lazy day in the sun, or take a day trip to the picturesque Cham Island. Make your way back to town in the early afternoon to collect your tailor-made items (marvelling at how efficiently and beautifully they’re made!) and explore some back streets for a more budget-friendly dinner. Complete your stay in Hoi An with an evening boat ride along the river (you’ll have to haggle of course), where you can release a candle onto the water and watch it float into the darkness.