Hoi An is a small but very cozy town in central Vietnam. It is known for its lanterns that illuminate the streets at night and give it color and life during the day. It is a port city with lots of charm. I have heard several opinions from other travelers about Hoi An and none were disappointed.
The city itself doesn’t have much to discover, but that’s not why you don’t want to stay there for a few days. Hoi An is so peaceful and comforting that you feel like enjoying all the calmness and peace that the city transmits. But, I can say that Hoi An is most charming at night.
Hoi An night market
At night, in the tourist center, the streets are flooded with people. I was not expecting to find so many tourists. Most come from other Asian countries like Korea, China, or Japan. The streets are full of people. In certain places there is difficulty in walking so big is human traffic. I speak specifically of the area of the bridge that connects the two banks of the river that runs through the city center. The river is the charm of the city with numerous small boats waiting for clientele who wants to go boating illuminated by the typical lanterns of Hoi An. All boats have at least one lantern and some are lotus flower-shaped illuminated in various colors. What a picturesque city!
So one of the best things to do in Hoi An is to stroll at night through the vintage-looking streets decorated with lanterns of various colors and flowers that adorn the shops’ façades. In the night market, the offer is wide. You must try the street food that spreads through the center. I still remember the taste of Vietnamese pizza which is delicious. A pizza very different from Italian, with rice paper as a base, and worth a try. There are lots of shops selling typical lanterns and it’s common to see tourists stopping in front of them for a colorful photo to post on social networks. Some of the stores even charge for an image to be taken with their exposed lanterns. They really don’t like seeing tourists stepping near to take pictures and go away empty-handed.
Sitting on the river bank enjoying the floating lights is also a must. It is a relaxing and inspiring moment that provides the calm that big cities can’t give. I could stay there for hours, not forgetting the company of rats. Yes, not everything is wonderful, but rats no longer bother me that much. I think I’m beginning to be indifferent to them. This is what happens when they become a regular daily sight. Is this what happens to Vietnamese when they pass through piles of rubbish on the ground? Are they so used to it that they don’t care anymore? Perhaps.
Typical Western dining offerings abound, but of course, a street meal with locals is more interesting. So entertainment is not lacking in Hoi An.
Hoi An ancient town
By day, exploring the narrow streets with local shops at every door is a must. They are beautiful to walk on and admire its architecture. Hoi An ancient town is home to the oldest and most historic buildings in the city. It requires a ticket I did not purchase. In fact, I did not spend that much time in the city during the daytime. Instead, I decided to visit My Son temples and the Marble mountains.
Still, Hoi An is worth a day walk through its charming streets. In Hoi An you can find many quality tailors that make items by order. In fact, Hoi An is a great place in Vietnam to buy quality items. They have many leather focused shops, fashion stores, and souvenir shops with one of a kind objects.
I feel like this place is underrated. I didn’t see any foreign tourists there and it’s actually so easy and cheap to get there. It’s also not so far away from Hoi An. Read about this trip in the next post!
Bay Mau Coconut Forest
Another very close spot that I only discovered after being there and that seems charming to me is the “coconut forest”, which offers a beautiful boat trip through coconut palm trees. This one I regret not have visited. Also, as there is not so much to do in the city itself, many people have Vietnamese cooking classes which seems like a good idea too. The beach is also close, so Hoi An has a variety of things to do that make it so attractive.
Another day trip in Hoi An is the My Son temples. They are part of UNESCO and are a great reflex of Cham architecture in Vietnam. You can also read about this day trip in the next post.