Every year I make sure I do two things, spend at least 15 days with my parents and 15 days exploring a new country with Ravi. The whole idea of designing your own life is to do what you like. Isn’t it?
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that this year we decided to visit the beautiful country of Vietnam. Whenever we travel, we make an effort to get off the tourist trail and look for off the beaten path destinations/experiences that will allow us to experience the raw beauty of the country. And it does not necessarily mean picking the off beat locations in the country, it could also mean picking the off beat things to do in a very touristy destination itself.
Today’s post is about Hoi An, yellow city of Vietnam which has beautiful scenery, delicious food, and humble people. This exceptionally well preserved ancient town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a little paradise for every traveller & photographer. You can see that the fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cultures, brought together by trade, is still evident in the architecture and decor of the merchant houses, temples, and assembly halls, and the layout of the town and its structures remains intact.
10 things to do in Hoi An
1. Walk around Old Town.
The best way to discover Hoi An is to wander. It is as though Coldplay sang “Yellow” for Hoi An! It is a delight to just walk along the Thu Bon River and watch the silk lanterns line the street, steakhouse playing country music, people wearing their conical hats and oh, those yellow walls are nothing but charming!! The real beauty is in the unexpected places, turning down an unexpected alley, finding these beautiful art galleries , cafes and craft shops in hidden nooks and crannies. The motorized vehicles aren’t allowed on the streets of the old town and its lovely to explore the place on foot.
Tip: You have to pay a small fee (120.000 VND/p)to get into Hoi An Old Town. And with that you can choose to see any 5 places form the list. If you wish to see more you can buy another one. The Places we visited were Japanese Covered Bridge, old house of Đuc An, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall , Hoi An Handicraft Workshop and Quan Cong Temple
2. Take a Boat Ride: Get on a boat and float along the Bon River to enjoy fresh air ,and to see landscape. Especially, you have chance to visit Palm Village and talk with local people. Afterwards, enjoy a peaceful moment on the Bon River as the sun sets.
3. Go cycling : All hotels give cycles for free but you can rent it for 1-2$ can go on your own exploring the villages of Hoi An or take up the cycling tour. We took up this free cycling tour offered by volunteer students studying tourism who join you to show you the most authentic places and in return get to practice English. We went on ferry to Kim Bong Village where we cycled around the village. This pleasant ride gives the cyclist a fantastic sampling of the countryside of Vietnam, meandering through stunning rural scenes, rice paddies, villages, fields of water buffalo and local life. We also tried making rice noodles, mats and spent so much time chatting with the boat makers and locals. It was definitely one of the highlights of our entire Vietnam trip.
4. Light a Candle and Make a Wish In the evening, you can light a candle box and set it in water. Many kids sit on the bank selling these candles. If you do end up doing it, remember to make a wish ! Though it looks gorgeous in the night, we did not end up doing it coz we felt that its just ends up making the river dirty 🙁
5. Visit The Tailors: Hoi An is well known as being one of the best destinations in Vietnam to have personal tailoring done. It’s not until you arrive will you really understand why. Almost every second shop has a mannequin out with a well fitted dress trying to lure you to get one custom made for yourself. There are way too many choices; most of the stores had the exact same patterns, same fabrics and very similar displays. There were a couple of shops that stood out- A Dong silk/ Mr. Xe Stitching, but in particular Yaly, one of the most expensive tailors in Hoi An, but you can see why. Their shop is well presented, their designs are lovely and they have a good range of beautiful fabrics. Having my mom’s boutique where I just get anything and everything made as per my choice, I did not get anything made in Hoi An as I wanted to not spend any time in getting clothes made. Though these guys give you the dress in less than 2 days including 2 trials. You can also get customised shoes made.
6. Take a cooking class: What gives papaya salad that zing? There are dozens of cooking classes available in Hoi An and which one you should choose simply depends on preference. Some are held in restaurants in town, with an abridged crash course that take as little as an hour, while others are drawn out into day-long affairs combined with a motorbiking, cycling or boating to fishing villages and herb gardens. One of the best in Hoi An is attached to the restaurant Morning Glory .
7. Bask on the Beach: Just a 20 minute cycle from Hai Ba Trung street in the centre of the town, will lead you through the countryside and over rivers to Anh Banh Beach. During the day the soft sandy beach has plenty of sun lounges, beach bars and turquoise sea to swim in. Evenings hold a laid back bohemian vibe with live music, BBQs and bonfires over the weekend.
8. Indulge in Street Food : A dedicated post on this to follow. There are umpteen options for non-vegetarians but as we are vegetarians, I think I will put up a vegetarian’s guide to Hoi An as a separate post!
9. Buy Art: There are so many different styles of painting, embroidery photos, and photography galleries. If you are an art lover, you can just not leave without buying one for your living room! If you are a photography enthusiast , do visit Couleurs d’Asie Gallery (Rehahn) also you can take up a photography tour.
10. Make a bamboo Root Sculpture : If you have an interest to ‘make’ things , you should totally try making your own bamboo sculpture in a Bamboo Sculpture Art Class . Discover the absolute versatility of the bamboo and create your own gift.
Here are more pictures! Hope you like them 🙂
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