Hoi An is a place that I’ve heard a lot about from a lot of people, and it’s all been good. Plus, its reputation as THE place in Vietnam to get clothes tailored precedes it. However, as we approached we got the gist from people travelling the other way that it is a MAJOR tourist hub. This is only to be expected for somewhere so well known and picturesque; it’s one of the main destinations for travellers short on time.
However, as we’ve been quite used to local places and local people, the thought of it was quite daunting. We’d already decided to stay out by the coast, about four kilometres out of town, as we were in serious need of some beach time, and this definitely worked out well for us.
Our homestay, Botanic Beach, was on a quiet little road with local houses and the community sports area opposite. There was a daily market at the end of the road which we visited a lot because we had a little annex apartment with a kitchen so this is where we got our ingredients.
There were signs of tourism everywhere here, but not the crowds to match.
I even managed to cook a chilli one night, as its one of the dishes we were really missing.
We definitely couldn’t find all of the ingredients we needed but it tasted pretty good… Lots of red wine helped. In the cooking and to drink.
Hoi An itself is undeniably beautiful. The old town is perched along the banks of the river and the architecture is a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and European, inspired and built by it’s many inhabitants of the past.
The first time we went was in the day, in the heat and the streets were relatively empty of tourists but every few metres someone would ask you to buy something, take a tour or eat in their restaurant. Nonetheless it was still lovely to wander round the old, traffic-free streets and soak in the atmosphere. We chose a tailor and got measured up for some new clothes!
The second time was in the late afternoon, for our first clothes fitting (which went pretty well), so we decided to stay in town for dinner and to see the lights of the town reflecting on the water. It’s very romantic, especially with candle lanterns floating down the river.
This is when the crowds really explode onto the streets, everyone returning from their day trips and venturing out from their cool hotels, and it gets busy! Still beautiful but overwhelming, especially with everyone now vying for your attention and your money. “Get on my boat. One hour trip.” “Buy lantern, float in river” “Lady, would you like dinner?” “Beer!”
There were some interesting cultural buildings to visit, including the japanese bridge above.
And the dinner we had at a famed restaurant called Morning Glory was just amazing!
But we were glad to escape back to the relative calm of the beach village, where we sat on our sun loungers drawing, reading, playing cards and generally topping up the tans.
We also got to watch the local fishermen going out to sea and back again in their bowl shaped boats. The way they navigate the waves is pretty impressive!
P.s. We did get our clothes made. Pete got a three piece suit and I got a high waisted skirt outfit. But we can’t show you because we didn’t take a photo and now we’ve sent them home. So it’ll be a treat for next year!