We visited Hoi An for four days as part of our journey through Vietnam, and enjoyed our stay immensely. We flew into Vietnam from Hong Kong, arriving at Hanoi from where we worked our way down to Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong.
To get to Hoi An from Hanoi, you need to go via Danang, which has both the closest airport and train station. It is much the same story if travelling from Ho Chi Minh.
There are cheap flights available on some of the low cost carriers, with the local line VietJet Air usually the best value, with flights around $30 USD.
The other option is to take an overnight train from Hanoi, which is what we did. We paid $62 USD each for a a soft berth sleeper cabin that slept four people. The trip was fun, not as romantic as we had hoped as we had to share the cabin, but tiring as we found it difficult to sleep in the noisy train.
We arrived at Danang in a bit of a haze and needed to lie in the sun by the beach for more than a few hours to recuperate. I would also advise stocking up on food and snacks for the trip, as what was available wasn’t ideal for us.
Hoi An Golden Sands Resort and Spa
From Danang it’s around a forty-five minute trip plus stops. Some hotels may offer free or discounted bus transfers, these will tend to stop at a ‘rest area’ which will have a lot of different wares on offer, from food and drink all the way up to huge hand carved marble statues which they will kindly ship to your country via sea container.
We took the free transfer option to Hoi An, but there was no such service available for our return to the airport, so we negotiated a private car recommended by our hotel, which was much cheaper than taking a taxi.
There is no shortage of accommodation in Hoi An. My only criteria was something on the beach. Using the map view feature on Hotels.com, I was easily able to find a suitable place using the free wifi available from our Hanoi hotel room, and booked four nights a few days before we left, paying around $110 USD a night.
The picture above shows the ‘beach’ along the edge of where we were staying. There was a nicer area shared with the neighbouring property a bit further south, but honestly we spent most of our time around the pool, which was all we really needed, especially as it had a bar and cocktails cost $2 during Happy Hour.
Hoi An Bamboo Boat Fishermen
The name of the place we stayed at was the Golden Sands resort and spa. We enjoyed our stay there and would recommend it. Breakfast was included and included a great range of local and western foods.
We also ate dinner at the hotel one night when they had a special themed buffet night, but this fell a little short of our expectations, probably because we like to experience authentic local food, and the buffet was tailored more to western tastes.
For me the highlight of the resort was its large pool and bar. Hoi An is a hot place, and cooling off is very necessary , not to mention keeping properly hydrated.
Although there was not much of a beach to walk along, except when the tide was low, we still had a great view of the water. I was especially interested in the local fishermen, a few of which drifted past us in a small round boat weaved from bamboo, casting a small net out to catch fish.
Hoi An Lightning Storm
The only downside to staying along the beach is it is some way from the town centre. There were regular shuttles run by the hotel, but for the first night we just wanted to explore the local area.
We set off from the resort on foot after sunset, the light fading quickly as a tropical storm moved over. We had seen a cluster of restaurants at an intersection to our north and thought we could find some local food there for dinner.
We managed to stray in the wrong direction, confused by a bridge that led to a Chinese restaurant and then a dead end, requiring us to double back.
As we crossed back, a large lightning storm erupted, lighting up the nearby area.
I took a few pictures, using the bridge railing as a steady surface so I could keep the shutter open long enough to capture the show.
Hoi An Beach Street Food
We eventually managed to find the intersection, which included a few seafood restaurants to choose from. We had a satisfying meal then went for a walk along the nearby foreshore.
There were many market and food stalls in the area, and although we had just eaten, we sampled some of the local wares.
Hoi An Street Scene
We ventured into town one day to visit the local sites. It was extremely hot, so we only stayed for a few hours. This is a typical street in Hoi An Old Town, a quieter part of the city preserved from development found elsewhere.
Many local merchants have stalls or pass down the streets of Hoi An Old Town selling their products. We pulled over this mangosteen seller while we were enjoying a cool drink a purchased a bag of the delicious fruit.
Japanese Bridge, Hoi An
A famous landmark in Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge. Build in the 1590’s by the local Japanese community to link them to the nearby Chinese quarter.
Lady on Japanese Covered Bridge
I met this lady while exploring the bridge area and she was generous enough to let me take her picture for only a small $1 fee. I was a bit peeved a tourist behind me snapped a shot without contributing to the modelling charge, but was happy with the shoot in general, so let it go.
It was a bit too hot to eat so we grabbed another round of cold drinks and made our way back to the resort for a cool down swim.
Hoi An Floating Wishes
After our first experience we limited our trips into town to after dark, which was both much cooler and more colourful as the town lights up nicely.
There are a number of excellent restaurants to choose from in the town, and along the river.
One night we had been given the name of a particular restaurant, but were having difficulty finding it. We did however run into two girls that had been on our recent Halong Bay Cruise. This is common in Vietnam, as most travellers follow a fairly standard route up or down the coast and keep bumping into each other.
Funnily enough they were looking for the same restaurant as us, which turned out to be closed due to renovations. We ended up finding a great local restaurant along the river together, after which we partook in purchasing ‘wishes’, which were lighted candles in small floating boats that we let loose along the river.
From Hoi An there are a number of local side trips and activities. We took a day trip out to the Cham Islands, a small group of isles visible from our hotel.
As you can see from the picture above, they are great examples of beautiful palm line tropical beaches. Our tour included snorkelling and scuba diving, which wasn’t as great as I had hoped, and a beachside buffet on the main island.
The experience was well worth it, and I got some great photos. All up, Hoi An was a highlight of our Vietnam trip and well worth the stop.
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