Hoi An is a very popular destination in Vietnam. This beautiful old town has survived the bombings during the war and is still authentic. Hoi An is no secret anymore. On the weekends, the small town is packed with tourists and feels like Disneyland, with coloured lights & luminous dragons in the river. But still, Hoi An is one of my favorite places in Vietnam. This bustling town, where scents of incense & bbq fill the air, has stolen my heart.
Renting a bike is a MUST in Hoi An! Most of the town centre is car free and everything is nearby. Another MUST is finding a tailor and having some clothes made! It is amazing what they can do here! Bring photos of your favorite dresses, jumpsuits or jackets and they will make them for you! I had my clothes made at a small shop called “47” inside a market: very hard to find… The most famous, best reviewed tailor in town is “Yaly Couture”. Further down in this post I will tell you more about how to find a good tailor and what to look out for.
Chu Chu was one of my favorite hangouts! This cute smoothie bar serves amazing, healthy juices, coffee & cocktails. I’m a huge fan of the authentic, Vietnamese “egg coffee”. Yummmm! Another great option, if you crave healthy shakes, is Cocobox.
Hai Café is a great lunch spot. Try the delicious wonton soup! Besides the beautiful terrace, they also have a hidden garden where you can sit!
The Espresso Station: Coffee, Art & Roastery was my first stop in the morning. The owner is very passionate about his coffee and every cup is a masterpiece. This place is located in a small side street and is a true hidden gem. Look out for the sign: ‘But first: coffee”, that will point you in the right direction. Try his homemade muesli with passion fruit!
Visit the famous Banh Mi Queen (Madame Kanh) for the best Banh Mi in Vietnam. Seriously: the best I had during my travels! This old lady, with red fingers from the chili, will put almost anything you can imagine on a crispy French baguette. So good!!
The Espresso Station: Coffee, Art & Roastery
Nu Eatery is another favorite, hidden gem. My best dinner in Hoi An! You can find Nu Eatery on the other side of the old Japanese bridge. Take the first street to your right and you will find the restaurant after a couple of meters on your left hand side. Try the steamed buns with pulled pork and the delicious salad with avocado, beans & squid! But the best is saved for last: don’t miss the DIVINE cheesecake!!!
Another favorite restaurant of mine is Red Dragon. This basic, family-run restaurant is located a little outside the city centre. The bike ride was a little further than I thought, so I had a very adventurous, nightly search. Grab a taxi and sit down for some very tasty, Vietnamese dishes. I loved the green papaya salad with chicken and the sticky rice with mango!
Cyclo’s Road Café
One of my favorite shops in Hoi An is Hay Hay. They sell beautiful cards, drawings and original souvenirs. Cyclo’s Road Café is a great place to crash after wandering around town all day, to enjoy a cheap, cold Tiger beer and watch the sunset. Here, you will meet a lot of fellow travelers. I loved the laid-back vibe.
Tra Que: herb village close to Hoi An.
Go for a bike ride to An Bang beach. This is the best beach in the area and along the way you will see buffalo’s & scooters packed with coconuts. This is the best way to escape the hustle & bustle of Hoi An. Visit the beautiful herb village Tra Que on your way back! If you’re lucky, the farmers will ask you for your help and they will explain to you how they work. The eating facilities are not that great at An Bang beach, so bring your own Banh Mi and some snacks!
The mysterious temples of Mi Son are definitely worth a visit. Up to this day, nobody understands how the temples were build & constructed. This place was a hiding spot for the Vietcong during the war and the bomb craters are the remains of the battle that was fought here. Unfortunately, some of the temples were partially destroyed during this time. Visit Mi Son BEFORE you visit Angkor Wat: after that, nothing will impress you anymore… I booked a comfortable tour with Tommy Tours for my visit to Mi Son.
Book an Easy Rider to travel from Hoi An to Hué. This was the BEST experience ever! Sitting on the back of a giant Honda will give you the ultimate feeling of freedom. I felt perfectly safe. During my day trip we stopped at beautiful views, visited an oyster farm and I climbed up the steps to the Marble Mountains. My driver would stop everytime I wanted to take a photo….poor guy. This was perfect to feed my Instagram! I took sooo many photos…
I think this is the best way to travel from Hoi An to Hué, or the other way around, even with a suitcase. My Suit Suit was perfectly strapped to the motor! Always check the reviews of other travelers before you book an Easyrider. Some companies are not very reliable…
Not to do:
Personally, I did not like the famous restaurants Morning Glory & Mango Mango so much. Morning Glory is huge and doesn’t feel cosy & personal. The place is simply to big and I did not like the food that much either… Mango Mango has beautiful views over the river, but the staff was a little arrogant. The food is overpriced and they served me my appetizer, main course & dessert almost at the same time. I felt rushed. Like they needed my seat for the next person. The food was good though.
Do not let yourself be pulled into a tailor shop to order clothes, but google some reviews of good places before you place an order anywhere. Don’t let a taxi driver drop you off somewhere: he will probably get a fee for dropping you off there, if you place an order. The same thing goes for your hotel. They will recommend places to you, will get almost 40% of your order and the poor man making your clothes will probably just get a couple of dollars. Do some research before you place an order.
Tip 1: Do not visit Hoi An on the weekends. Try to book your stay during the week or stay a little longer, so you can enjoy the beautiful old town, without big groups of Chinese tourists blocking your bike…
Tip 2: If you need transport to the airport or the train station, I would recommend booking a shuttle service at, for example, Hoi An Travel. This will cost you approximately 110.000 dong, which is about $5. A hotel shuttle service or a taxi will cost you a whole lot more.