There are always stand out locations on long backpacking trips that stick in your head and remind you how much you love travelling. Hoi An is one of those places for me. Everyday in the little town was a complete pleasure for such a variety of reasons. Seriously, you would be mad not to include it in your Vietnam itinerary! So to make extra sure that doesn’t happen I’m going to go in depth for you guys. This post is going to include lots of recommendations on what to do, see and eat in Hoi An and explain why I think it is the best town in Vietnam.
The locals will tell you that Hoi An specialities Cao Lau and Banh Mi won’t be found anywhere else in Vietnam. That isn’t strictly true however it definitely is the best you’ll find. For amazing Cao Lau and delicious food all round you have to go to a restaurant called Morning Glory. I think it’s the best food I ate in the whole of Vietnam. Banh Mi is a fresh baguette (which the Vietnamese nail!) filled with a mixture of noodles, vegetables and traditionally pork but you can get it without meat or with a different type. This stuff is the bomb, I’m seriously salivating at the thought! For the best Banh Mi check out Banh Mi Queen or Banh Mi Phuong.
Hoi An is also the perfect place to find a mean Vietnamese coffee! Introduced by French colonists, the Vietnamese have developed their own coffee style and it is a big part of the culture there. Their coffee is strong and thick and often they’ll add a sugar syrup. Check out Hoi An Roastery, I loved their coconut milk iced coffee! It also has seats with a great view of the busy market streets.
2. TRIBEE BANA
Hands down the best hostel I stayed in in South East Asia. Tribee Bana is located in the heart of Hoi An, within walking distance of everything. The dorms are big and ensuite, 4 people per room so you can really make yourself at home. Every day/evening the hostel organises free activities such as a spring roll cooking class, bicycle tour, street food tour, pub crawl and happy hour which are all really fun. It has a friendly vibe, free breakfast and the staff are great. I made amazing friends at this hostel who I ended up travelling with until Cat Ba Island! As I said in my 3 Week Travel Guide to Vietnam if you take one piece of advice from my experience, stay here!
Compared to the markets in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, the ones in Hoi An are small but it’s not a bad thing. You can actually walk around them and enjoy yourself! The night market is particularly pretty because of all the lanterns that light the streets and reflect on the river. I found the best souvenir shopping here, so many coconut and bamboo bowls, I wanted them all! Hoi An is also famous for it’s tailors and in the market, you can get a three piece suit/ dress/ coat etc. tailor made for a fraction of what it would cost you at home.
Although there wasn’t lots of choice, what bars and ‘clubs’ Hoi An does have to offer are all really fun. And I’m not usually much of a party person so this says a lot. Dive Bar and Q Bar were very cool while Why Not Bar was slightly messier, full of backpackers and open very late!
5. DAY TRIPS
There was a lot to see around Hoi An and the best way to explore the area was by bicycles or scooters through the hostel. My Son Sanctuary is described as a mini Angkor Wat! Hue is an old capital and was home to the Nguyen Dynasty. If you’re not planning on stopping here it makes a great day trip. Monkey Mountain is another great trip if you fancy a bit of a hike and some amazing panoramic views.
Hoi An has a few decent beaches such as Cua Dai Beach however the best beach is on Cham Island. There are lots of different snorkelling and diving trips that will take you to the island. However, if you fancy cycling, the first beach is perfect. And you can cycle back to the town centre through the beautiful countryside and rice paddy fields. Tribee Bana will give you a map to follow which highlights a few other things to see along the way such as a pottery village and coconut village.
So, those are the 5 main reasons Hoi An was my favourite town in Vietnam! I barely took any pictures on this part of my backpacking trip literally because I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to. To make up for that, I have included two here that aren’t mine, the Cao Lau picture and Hoi An at night picture. I recommend you check those links out for even more information on the area.