I have to be honest about Hoi An. It was not my favorite stop in Vietnam, even though I’d only heard wonderful things beforehand. Too crowded, too touristy, and the only place where we felt the people were unfriendly on a regular basis. (I actually heard this a lot about Hanoi, but we didn’t experience it.) Because of all the tourists, we felt like we were in a Disneyland version of Vietnam, which looked great on pictures but didn’t feel so great when in front of every other yellow wall there were people doing a photoshoot for their instagram.
It’s possible that we were there at the wrong time (july) and you’ll have a completely different experience. And with that in mind I’d like to share the things we did enjoy in Hoi An. Here goes!
*Bike Rides - Unlike many tourists we steered clear of the many motorbikes offered to us along the way. After we heard about the “Saigon Kiss” in Ho Chi Minh City and saw some pretty nasty scars on both locals and tourists we decided it wasn’t for us. Plus the road in Vietnam is NUTS. That being said, Hoi An roads are pretty calm in comparison to the big cities and most hotels offer complimentary bikes. Perfect for exploring, just make sure you take water and wear sunscreen!
*Rice Fields – The funny thing about Hoi An? When you wander off the main road and into the rice fields, the world just seems to stop. Smiling children, farmers working, chickens running loose. My favorite moment in Hoi An.
*Hoi An at night – Even though it was crowded there’s no denying all the lights are beautiful at night. A must if/when you visit.
*An Bang Beach- I was on the fence about this one, because we encountered some VERY rude, even aggressive locals at the “obligatory” bike parkings. Mentally prepare to be yelled at the moment you approach the beach and you’ll be fine. I’m putting it on the list because it was our only beach stop and because I liked the beach bar we went to (see Eat & Drink).
Eat & Drink
*Dingo Deli - I had some pretty delicious french toast at this place, and the burgers were tasty as well. Dingo Deli was founded in 2010 by an Aussie/Canadian family and will take you from breakfast to dinner. Great for when you’re feeling something else than Pho.
*Soul Kitchen - Yummy food and a relaxed atmosphere, Soul Kitchen was a good starting point for a day at the beach. I really liked the Calamari here.
*Ancient Faifo – We enjoyed some afternoon refreshments here and liked the atmosphere so much we wanted to return for dinner. That eventually didn’t happen, but let me know how it turns out if you do!
*The Nam Hai - The Nam Hai is actually a luxury resort by the beach, and if you’re looking for high end accomodation, I’m pretty sure it won’t disappoint. We went there for cocktails to celebrate Dieter’s birthday. They were very welcoming but they don’t get a lot of outside guests so it’s best to shoot them an e-mail beforehand.
*Mai Fish – Not the cheapest place to eat Vietnamese cuisine, but the food was just that little more special and so delicious! Plus they have a big terrace which was really cosy. From the same owner of Mango Rooms and Mango Mango.
*Secret Garden – Restaurant with a big terrace in a small alley right around the corner from the busy streets.
*Q Bar- For a cocktail, or two.
*East West Villa’s – This was the best part about our stay in Hoi An. This hotel is a-ma-zing! By far the best we had when we were in Vietnam. Upon arrival I was a bit afraid because they showed us our room, one that wasn’t renovated and didn’t resemble the pictures on the website, and then they offered us a cheap upgrade to a bigger room. It seemed quite obvious that this was an upselling tactic and I absolutely hate that sort of thing, but in the end we were so pleased with the room (the Harmony Villa) that it was quickly forgotten. There were no more surprises or tactics, the staff is super friendly and attentive, the rooms are beautiful, and I still dream about the pool. You have the option of taking your breakfast in your room or by the pool every morning, which was absolutely awesome. We had a wonderful time here.