Why visit Hoi An
After leaving the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An in central Vietnam south of Da Nang is a breath of fresh air. This small city grows on you the minute you arrive. With a great vibe and welcoming feel, you can’t help but fall in love with it. And that is just what we did. The people are wonderful, friendly and, if you frequent a place they remember you and welcome you back. Also staying at Mama’s House Homestay (see separate post) made our decision to extend even easier, so we went from 4 nights to 13 nights and could easily have made it even longer.
Old (Ancient) town……
The town with its beautiful silk lanterns is a shopper’s paradise with a myriad of tailor, leather, and souvenir shops. You can have clothing, leather goods, and shoes custom-made if you have the time. Also, there are numerous optical shops to have prescription glasses made. We took advantage of the leather shops and had a purse (for Renee, not Don – some of you are probably wondering) and messenger bag (for Don), both custom-made along with prescription glasses for a fraction of the cost in the States, within 24 hours.
The old town at night……
At night the old town comes alive with beautiful silk lanterns strung everywhere and brightly lit. With the river running through the middle of town you get an opportunity to see the lanterns with their rainbow colors glistening off the water.
The Vietnamese are very hard-working people. A normal day is 12+ hours, 7 days a week. Most are just trying to put food on the table for their families.
Water Puppet Show……
You can’t go to Vietnam without attending a legendary water puppet show. The performance is featured at the Hoi An Theatre on every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at 6 pm. Tickets can be purchased in Old Town or at the entrance to the theater. There is bicycle and motorbike parking inside the theater lot.
Tips and Recommendations for visiting Hoi An City:
- If Da Nang International Airport is your point of entry into Vietnam here are Visa options: 1) obtain a hard visa in your passport from the embassy before leaving home. Plan ahead as it can take weeks, plus you give up your passport during that time period. 2) obtain (online) an Approval Letter from a Vietnam Immigration Service to get a “Visa On Arrival” at airport immigration. You will also need to complete a visa application, and provide one passport photo. There are multiple types of visas and they start at $25 for a 30-day single entry. They ONLY take cash and US Dollars. The date you put as your entry date is a HARD date; you cannot enter prior unless you resubmit for a new Approval Letter.
- Mama’s House Homestay is a must stay. At $18 a night with breakfast, you can’t beat it. Beautiful house and rooms that are cleaned and returned to check-in appearance every day you of your stay. Thu and her family are wonderful and go out of their way to help. The banana pancakes for breakfast are delicious. Not included in the price of the room are additional meals (lunch/dinner) made to order. She takes credit cards but you have to pay the 2% fee.
- Arrange airport pick-up with Thu at Mama’s House. Driver with a sign will be waiting as you exit the terminal. $12.
- Cash is king in Vietnamese Dong and the most preferred method of payment. Some restaurants in old town take credit cards, but most others do not – check first.
- Pedestrians are the lowest form and have NO RIGHTS. There are no such thing as crosswalks even if you see a painted one on the street. Motorbikes will drive on the sidewalk and honk at you to move. You need to move out of their way as they will not stop.
- Crossing the street. If you wait for the traffic to change or for them to stop for you, you will probably be there for years to come. Just step out into traffic and walk slowly. Traffic will just go around you. DO NOT run and DO NOT stop…..
- 09 Shoes Shop for leather goods. Located on the outskirts of old town at 65 Tran Hug Dao Street. Custom items to order if you have time (usually within 24-48 hours). Great quality.
- Kimmy Custom Tailor. Located outside of old town at 70 Tran Hung Dao Street.
- Favorite eats:
- Madam Khanh’s – awesome baguette sandwich (called a Banh Mi) for 20,000 VND. Located at 115 Tran Cao Van, turn left at Kimmy Custom Tailor and next street to the left is Tran Cao Van, half away down on the right side.
- Trip Nguyen Restaurant Cafe – Vietnamese cuisine. Located 736 Hai Bà Trưng, at the entrance to old town. Great food and happy hour all day – two cocktails for 70,000 VND.
- Boulevard Gelato & Coffee – Located inside old town on a side street by the Japanese Bridge. Take away only as there is no seating. Delicious and lower priced than most other coffee places.
- Hue City and the Citadel day trip (with Hue Tourist Company) is worth seeing.
- My Son – skip if you have been to Angkor Wat because the few ruins will be disappointing.
- Marble Mountain and the city of Da Nang are worth seeing.