Colour is in abundance in Hoi An: yellow historic buildings, bright candle-lit lanterns, green herb gardens and shaded leafy lanes. We immediately fell in love with the laid-back atmosphere, the friendly locals and the beautiful buildings.
Asides from taking photographs, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Hoi An is ideal for lazy beach days, cooking classes, binges on cheap beer, or just a walk around the endearing old town.
We ended up staying for 5 days in Hoi An and we could have easily stayed much longer.
River of Lanterns
Every night, tourists line the banks of the river and float colourful candle lanterns downstream. The scene is mesmerising, as the water is illuminated by tiny lights and small wooden tourist boats glide effortlessly by.
We were also in Hoi An for the monthly lantern festival. Every full moon, the old town transforms into a celebration. Children dance from shop-to-shop, wearing two person dragon outfits and loudly bang drums. The river is filled with jostling boats and thousands of floating lanterns. Whilst hilarious games fill the pavements, designed to make you look a fool. We’d definitely recommend visiting for this festival, as the atmosphere is electric and it’s great, free entertainment.
Exploring Old Town
The colourful streets and old buildings are a photographer’s dream. I got excited at every sight of a chipped yellow wall, which were perfect backdrops for portraits. At night, the old town comes alive with colourful lanterns lining the street and street vendors haggling for business.
The tiny tree-lined lanes were packed full of trinket shops, restaurants and suit tailors. Time often escaped us here, as there was so much to explore and you got lost in the myriad of lanes.
Savoury pancakes filled with vegetables, tender chicken skewer wraps and mouthwatering spring rolls were just a few of the delicious items available.
Food vendors appear as soon as darkness arrives, lining the north bank of the Thu Bồn river and at the night market. Shouts fill your ears as you pass by, as they entice you to just try one of their delicious offerings. On numerous occasions we found ourselves dragged in by the irresistible smells and when it’s so cheap, it’s hard to say no!
Bia Hoi – cheap beer!
Having to pay around £4 a pint back in England, we were very shocked to find beer for £0.15 a glass!
The first time we saw it advertised, we thought it was a joke. After a very refreshing ice cold glass of beer, we asked for the bill and were amazed we only had to pay 10,000 Vietnamese Dong (£0.30).
Bars selling Bia Hoi line the river bank, so we regularly grabbed a glass and watched the world go by. Ladies would come around selling nuts and other snacks, which made a great accompaniment to the many cheap beers we proceeded to drink.
Banh beach is easily the best in Hoi An. We loved it for its size, as we could easily find our own secluded spot of sand and we really enjoyed walking for miles along the endless beach. What’s better is if you buy lunch from one of the seafront restaurants, you get a free sun bed for the entire day!
We stumbled across Baby Mustard by chance and tried one of their passion fruit juices. It was so sweet and refreshing, and the owner was lovely, so we decided to also try a cooking class.
Baby Mustard is located in the idyllic herb and vegetable gardens, making it a perfect location for a cooking class. We started with a tour of the gardens, where there are countless rows of colourful vegetation. We learnt all about the local produce and how the Vietnamese use it in their cooking.
We then learnt how to cook three local dishes: sweet and sour chicken, mackerel hot pot, and Cau Lou. The hot pot was a clear winner – even if I did put double the amount of salt in! We cooked all afternoon and then got to eat our creations, so it was well worth the money and a very memorable experience.
We loved our stay at Sunflower Hotel and would definitely recommend it. It has a great location close to town, a pool, a massive bar area and all you can eat breakfasts. They also had daily free hours between 5pm and 6pm, where you got unlimited free items, including beer!