As this goes to press, I’ll have been in Thailand for a few days, but I can’t finish the week without wrapping up our 6 days in Hoi An. This fabulous little town is quite easily one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited.
As J said, if Disneyland had an Asia section, it would look like Hoi An.
Where we stayed…
Maison Vy. It’s a relatively small boutique hotel about 15 minutes walk out of the old town, and it was perfect.
The owner also owns a number of restaurants around town – most notably, Morning Glory and The Cargo Club – and a cooking school.
Where we ate…
Our absolute favourite meal was at Morning Glory. Other notable mentions were Green Mango, Miss Vy’s Marketplace, Pho Xuo and Nu Eatery. The pics below are from Nu Eatery. It’s on the other side of the Japanese down a blink or you’ll miss it laneway. I wrote more about some places to eat here – 10 dishes you must try in Vietnam.
The Ancient Town…
The Ancient Town has UNESCO World Heritage listing as an example of a traditional trading port of the 17th and 18th centuries. And well preserved it is.
You can buy tickets to visit some of the listed houses, assembly rooms and temples/ pagodas.
The only transport allowed down here is motorcycles , rickshaws and bicycles, and for part of each day motorbikes aren’t allowed either – making it perfect for strolling.
Oh my goodness, the lanterns. How I loved the lanterns. I could have bought them all.
Apparently during the Full Moon, electricity is shut off and the streets are closed to traffic. Sadly we left on the day of the Full Moon (no, we didn’t plan that very well) so didn’t get to see this. I can only imagine it would have been magical.
The Japanese Covered Bridge…
A bridge was first built here in the 16th century to link the Japanese community with the Chinese one. This bridge apparently dates back to the 18th century…but don’t quote me on that.
To cross the bridge you’re supposed to have a heritage town ticket, but there is a walkway via the river and crossing from the other side won’t cost you a cent.
What we had made…
Hoi An has more tailors than you could imagine existing. There’ll be people wanting to take you for a look at their shop in the Central Markets. Don’t. Go. Don’t.
The best way to find a good tailor is to go on real referrals – preferably repeat referrals. And makes sure that you place your orders early in your holiday so you don’t have hassles with fittings etc. Having said that, our stuff was ready in less than 2 days.
We weren’t going to get anything made, but ended up getting a tad carried away. Hubby had 5 cotton shirts made for $160, and I had 3 A-line skirts done for $130. One of the skirts is in Thai silk and everything came out really well.
Our travelling companions had a pants suit and custom designed long jacket, men’s shirts, men’s cargo shorts, and a couple of chiffon blouses made. We were all really happy.
We’d been referred to Bebe Tailors. It’s a huge operation and has full rolls of fabric rather than swatches – enabling you to get a good idea of how the pattern repeats and the material looks on you. My friends spread their business and also went to GUMI (or GM) Tailors – with good results as well.
My other tip? Have an idea about what you want. I had none – except that I wanted the sorts to be A-line in shape. My friend came armed with a photo. If inspiration leaves you though, they do have catalogues you can choose from.
The Central Markets…
I told you about that here. It’s a must-do.
The cooking class…
Yep, another must-do.
There are cooking classes advertised everywhere. Find one that throws in a little culture as well. We did the Red Bridge Cooking Class…I told you about that here.
The Floating Lanterns…
Yes, I know this is simply contributing to the level of trash in the water, but there’s something so seductive about lighting a candle in a lantern, making a wish, and sending it on its way down the river.
What did I wish for? That would be telling…
The Ancient City at night…
If this place is beautiful during the day, you should see it at night!
From Hoi An you can take a day trip to Hue (about 3 hours) or out to the ruins of My Son (about an hour) but we were content to wander the old town and soak up the atmosphere.
What was the weather like?
Hot! Apparently it gets even hotter – unbearably so – over the next few months. We spent a portion of each day cooling off by the pool.
Have you been to Hoi An? Where else did you go? How many lanterns did you buy? Any horror stories about tailors?
We only got 3 lanterns for our balcony :). We also went to BeBe, I’ve got a suit and 2 shirts, and my wife got herself 2 nice dresses :). The bill was terryfying (500 USD), but we’re both very happy 🙂
Ah… I loved Hoi Ann but only had a night there AND… I somehow got convinced into staying at a dodgy backpackers with a guy I met on the bus there. He was fine, but couldn’t afford a room and needed to share. I had been attempting to go a bit more upmarket (though not much). I think I had dinner with him somewhere or other… But as I had minimal time I didn’t get anything made. But I recall sight-seeing by myself once I ditched my young companion.
It was the lanterns that did it for me.
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