Hoi An was our favourite place in Vietnam and one of the highlights of our whole SE Asia trip. It’s full of character and charm, and just so colourful – no wonder its popular with Vietnamese and foreign tourists alike. It’s also a very romantic place, but me and Matt were to be joined by the rest my family as they hijacked my travels. Just kidding! I loved having everything paid for and staying in really nice accommodation for a week. But seriously, It was great spending time with them – with me living in Hong Kong, it had been ages since we’d all been together. We stayed in a lovely hotel, it’s amazing what you can get for your money in Vietnam – you can get a 4* hotel for as low as £25 a room. Our average accommodation budget was £6-7 each for hostels, so this was pure luxury for me and Matt. Cocktails also went on my parents tab! Included in the price of our accommodation was a free dinner and a massage.
On our first morning Mum and Dad went on a food tour they had booked. No space for us ‘kids’ on the tour but we didn’t mind too much. Me and Matt were exhausted after our overnight journey. It just so happened that our time in Hoi An coincided with the Full Moon festival. It was such a great surprise – I couldn’t have planned it better! Now, this isn’t at all like the Full Moon festivals in Thailand, it just also happens to take place on a full moon. Hoi An Ancient Town is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage site, and the festival is a cultural celebration. For the locals it is a time to honour their ancestors, and for visitors it is a great chance to see music performances, traditional games, and lanterns adorning the streets and waterways. There is also free entrance to the historical attractions on the night of the full moon. For the festival people buy lanterns and then set them afloat. Hoi An is the place to get things tailored. I had a pair of shoes made for me in under 24 hours for less than I would’ve paid for a standard pair in the UK. Wondering around the shops was really enjoyable – there’s the usual tourist tat on sale but there are also lots of little boutiques and a number of art shops. We ate amazing food, for ridiculously cheap prices. Dad couldn’t believe it when a meal for five, with drinks, came to under £20. They make fresh beer daily in Vietnam and you can buy it for literally a couple of pence. It is the cheapest beer in the world. If for some reason you don’t fancy Vietnamese food any more ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ Italian restaurant, does some of the best pizza (seriously delicious) and it’s in one of the lovely traditional buildings. Here’s a picture of some particularly flavoursome Pho. Sometimes the noodle soup can be a bit bland, other times it makes you ashamed that you spent so much money on practically the same thing in Wagammas back home. In the cold of winter, I am definitely going to try making Pho myself. One afternoon, me and Matt wondered into town by ourselves but got caught in a burst of heavy rain (it was the wet season after all), so we took shelter in a local café which gave us an excuse to pass the time drinking Vietnamese coffee. Meanwhile a chicken and it’s chicks wandered about under our chairs and table.
We also cycled on bikes, lent by our hotel, to the beach one day. It’s not quite as good as the beach in Nha Trang but, given the choice, I’d rather be in Hoi An any day.
Another great way to pass the time is to take a boat ride. As we were a large enough group it didn’t cost to much to hire our own.
Hoi An is such a beautiful town, I’m just going to let the pictures say the rest.
Every single one of us placed Hoi An as our favourite place on the trip. Which is pretty funny considering that when I first told my Dad I would be visiting Hoi An he laughed at me and said, it’s called Hanoi stupid!