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Hoi An is a charming town in central Vietnam, known for its sunshine yellow buildings, skilled tailors and pretty beaches. There’s a certain magic to the lantern-strewn streets of this ancient city that make it an absolute must-visit destination. Here’s how to get the most out of beautiful Hoi An.
February, March and April are the ideal months to visit Hoi An, as the weather’s dry and temperatures are mild. Things get hot from May until October, and then the rainy season lasts until the end of January. The city is quieter during this season, but there’s also an increased chance of flooding.
I’d say you need at least three days to truly explore this beautiful city, but four or five would be ideal; Hoi An isn’t the kind of place you want to rush. As well as sightseeing and shopping, you also might want some time to lay on the beach or indulge in a spa day.
Hoi An is full of beautiful boutique hotels and it’s easy to find great accommodation on a budget. That being said, I’m a luxury traveler through and through and if you want to go all out in Hoi An, you’ll find yourself well-catered for.
Located on the banks of the Thu Bon River, this beautiful property draws on Art Nouveau, Japanese and Vietnamese architectural styles. The rooms are airy and serene with gentle splashes of color; they truly do feel fit for royalty. The Hotel Royal is also home to the Deck, the tallest (and best) rooftop bar in Hoi An, where you can enjoy delicious sunset cocktails by a glamorous infinity pool.
The Vinpearl Resort is a little way out of town, but it’s worth it to stay in a spacious beachfront villa with panoramic ocean views. This resort is an excellent choice for groups and families, and it’s also home to one of the most sumptuous spas in Hoi An, the Akoya.
Courtesy of Booking.com
The traditional Vietnamese design and pretty river views of the Mulberry Collection Silk Marina make it a good choice for luxury travelers looking to soak up the local heritage and really get a feel for Vietnam.
Courtesy of Booking.com
The Japanese Covered Bridge is an iconic symbol of Hoi An and more widely, Vietnam – it even appears on the 20,000 dong note. It’s a beautiful piece of historic architecture that dates back to the 18th, which means it’s withstood several wars and many cultural transformations.
As well as the gorgeous architecture, Hoi An also boasts some pretty stunning countryside. The best way to see the rice paddies, rivers and water buffalo is by bicycle. You can either opt for a bicycle tour or simply rent one and make your own way around town.
Central Vietnam is said to boast the best food in the country; it’s certainly spicier, which I love. Hoi An itself, meanwhile, is often referred to as Vietnam’s culinary capital, although others would argue it’s the nearby city of Hue.
There are several popular cooking classes in Hoi An where you can learn how to make some tasty Vietnamese classics, such as fresh spring rolls and banh xeo pancakes. Green Bamboo Cooking School and Hoi An Eco Cooking Class are two of the best, and both include market tours where you’ll gather fresh ingredients.
As if its amazing food and picturesque architecture weren’t enough, Hoi An is also well known for its highly skilled tailors. Purchasing beautiful bespoke clothing is one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An because you get some serious bang for your buck. However, some tailors do try to take advantage of tourists who aren’t careful with low quality fabric and poor craftsmanship. I highly recommend Sewing Bee at stall No. 11 inside the Cloth Market. As well as fast turnaround times and friendly service, everything they make looks beautiful and won’t fall apart as soon as you get home.
Many hotels and restaurants will recommend certain tailors, but bear in mind that they don’t do this to be helpful; they’re working on commission.
As well as tailor-made clothing, there are many other goodies to grab in Hoi An. You can find genuine buffalo leather bags, shoes and wallets for a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere in the world, but remember to haggle. If there’s something you’ve got your eye on, ask for a price in several shops to get a general idea of what the starting rate is. Then, when you’re ready to go in for the kill, start at a quarter of that price and never pay more than half. These vendors fully expect the back and forth but are quite happy if an uninformed buyer pays full price if they don’t know better.
Named after the popular Vietnamese vegetable, Morning Glory is one of the most famous restaurants in Hoi An. In fact, it’s been so successful that there are now three branches within a mile radius: Original, Signature and Express. Morning Glory takes hearty street food classics and upgrades them to restaurant quality inside gorgeous colonial buildings. You can also opt for western cuisine, but to me, it seems a shame not to order from the Asian menu.
Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Phuong Minh An
Honestly, I didn’t expect to find a Greek restaurant in the heart of ancient Hoi An, so Mix sort of blew my mind. As delicious as Vietnamese food is, sometimes you might find yourself craving a break and this restaurant is the perfect place to satisfy that urge. I highly recommend the Mix Dips sharing bread platter to start with, and the Greek salad is really tasty.
Address: 70 Le Loi, Phuong Minh An
Rosie’s Cafe can be a little difficult to find since it’s tucked down a quiet little street, but it’s 100% worth it. It’s a hipster cafe and boutique that serves a delicious western-style brunch and makes all customers feel right at home. If you can’t stomach savoury Vietnamese soup for breakfast, head to Rosie’s instead.
Address: 02 Mac Dinh Chi, Phuong Cam Son
The Deck is Hoi An’s classiest bar. Perched on the roof of the luxurious Hotel Royal, it’s the best place in the city to catch the sunset. With a gilded bar, a glittering infinity pool and sleek marble floors, you’ll feel every inch the VIP as you sip cocktails at this Hoi An hotspot.
Address: 39 Dao Duy Tu
Courtesy of Booking.com
To be honest, Vietnam isn’t known for its high quality wine. The Dalat wine produced in the country is bitter and unpleasant, so all of the good stuff has to be imported. Since Vietnamese people tend to favor beer, the selection is pretty limited… which makes the White Wine Marble Club an excellent spot for anyone craving a good quality glass (or bottle, I don’t judge). It’s a cute, compact spot right by the river where you can relax, enjoy the view and enjoy a selection of fourteen premium wines.
Address: 98 Le Loi, Phuong Minh An
Vietnam has a spa culture to rival Thailand, so it’s only right to pamper yourself whilst you’re in Hoi An. There are many spas on the streets of Hoi An offering very cheap prices, but if you really want to indulge yourself I recommend heading somewhere reputable. Also, avoid any spa with a flashing neon sign because it’s not really a spa.
Clean, professional and affordable, the Five Senses Spa offers friendly service and a range of relaxing treatments. I highly recommend a Vietnamese-style massage, which I personally find to be gentler than the Thai variety.
Address: 14 Duong Phan Boi Chau, Phuong Cam Chau
The beautiful Koi Spa pays homage to the culture and heritage of Hoi An. It features a himalayan salt sauna, a sparkling 25-metre lap pool and a cafe offering fresh, organic produce to replenish you after your treatment.
Address: Cua Dai Beach, Au Coi
The Akoya Spa is one of the most luxurious in Hoi An. Treat yourself by indulging in a flower bath, a four hand massage or an all-natural facial treatment. This elegant spa is truly worthy of its five-star status.
Address: Block 06, Cua Dai
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