Hoi An has been on my bucket list for a while, and I was recently lucky to get to check it out for a few days. The town is special because unlike the most of the country that has seen so much development in the last century, Hoi An’s architecture has stayed intact – the silting up of the Thu Bon river so boats couldn’t pass has a lot to do with it! For this reason it’s atmospheric in a way that many places in the country are not, but still has the chaos of Asia that I love so much, our stay at the Anantara was the perfect retreat. As you can imagine, tourists flock to see the charming town in droves, and the local economy focuses on the tourism economy almost completely. It can feel a little intense sometimes, but even so, the gorgeous charm the buildings and the food had me head over heels!
Wearing Faithfull top and Zulu & Zephyr shorts.
Hanging in the halls of the beautiful Anantara my Faithfull top, Zulu & Zephyr shorts and J Crew flats.
A Quick Guide to Hoi An, Vietnam
We stayed at Anantara Hoi An Resort and loved every minute of it. We enjoyed the feeling of a relaxing sanctuary and colonial vibes of the place, and the staff were the most helpful I’ve ever encountered! Definitely worth it. Hoi An is also known for its ‘homestays’ these are what we would call boutique hotels or even bed and breakfasts. Usually family run and very highly recommended by friends (ones that I trust!).
Eat & Drink
On the whole, our two trips to Vietnam has proven to us that you should skip all the ‘fancy’ vietnamese food and just try ti find the best hole in the wall shops and street stalls. Truly, the food is so much better this way.
There’s a lot of contention about the best Banh Mi (vietnamese sandwich). We tried pretty much all the ones recommended and have to say that Madame Khanh’s Banh Mi wins hand down. DO Not miss. I had three of them…
Cao lau is a regional Vietnamese dish made with hearty noodles, pork and fresh greens and found only in Hoi An. Because it’s a famous local dish you can find it at most restaurants but our favourite was from Pho Xua.
Naturally you’re going to want to have a twilight drink overlooking the river as all the lanterns come on. I recommend going over to Fusion and doing it overlooking the gorgeous old town, rather than in the town itself.
Speaking of drinks… so many on this holiday. Soul Kitchen on An Bang beach makes a great Pina Colada and you’re going to want to set aside a bit of time to hang out in the cabanas and do nothing.
When it’s still am and not a cocktail appropriate hour make sure to visit the Reaching Out Tea House. A quaint, peaceful little café run as a charity and training centre for the speech and hearing impaired. So lovely – as are the ceramics in their craft store around the corner.
If you prefer coffee to tea the Hoi An Roastery makes a great vietnamese drip one and is also a lovely hang out.
See & Do
Bike rides – Almost all the hotels have bikes you can borrow as well as maps outlining self-directed tours. The whole area is flat so cruising around is easy and fun. Explore the town, ride your bike to the beach or take a tour through the rice paddies while buffalo spotting.
The Central Food Hall and surrounding food markets are something to see and do and somewhere to eat and drink. Colourful, busy, bustling and a social spot to hang out with locals. Most stalls offer just one or two dishes and stick to secret family recipes.
While I didn’t actually buy anything in the Pottery village it was interesting to see the history and processes behind this ancient trade as well as all the finished products.
Lounge under an umbrella at An Bang or Cua Dai beach. Go for a swim and then lounge some more.
Good to know:
The old town architecture is really spectacular – a mix of French colonial, Chinese and Japanese – and completely unique to the area. Although to be expected, it’s a little sad that all these stunning buildings are now quite touristy. I found the best time to explore and really take it all in was first thing in the morning before the shops open and before the other tourists woke up (Like 7am first thing in the morning!).
Although floating a lantern down the river seems like a romantic concept, because I was up so early I saw them all sad and shipwrecked along the river banks each morning. Hopefully they are biodegradable but it still put me off getting involved!
My Faithfull romper and the amazing woven boats at An Bang beach
Reaching Out Tea House
The River at Night (heart eye emojis!)
The amazing Banh Mi at Madam Khans.
Time for a boat trip?
So many gorgeous walls.
The Hoi An streets!
More relaxed evening vibes.
The houses are covered in bougainvillaea!
Breakfast at the Anantara
The Night Markets
Finding my next house…
The central markets
Riding around the rice paddies
Pool time at our hotel.
Every hotel in the world should give out free bikes – such a good way to explore!
Early morning streets in the centre of town.
Don’t forget to look down in Hoi An. Such pretty floors.
Paradise in our hotel.