“Where to next?” Today the answer is Hoi An Old Town. I ask myself every time that the stress is taking over my life. When this takes hold of me and lowers my quality of life that is the question that I ask Laurel. We all need a dose of peace in our lives and a great way to get it is going to Hoi An, Vietnam. Actually, “Hoi An” translates to English as “peaceful meeting place”.
How to Get to Hoi An Old Town
First of all, I have to say that Hoi An isn't an easy destination at all. By that, I mean it is somehow “hidden” and takes a lot of determination to get to it. The city of Hoi An has no airport or railway station. , The best option is a flight, bus or train to Da Nang. The flights are expensive and in our case we were traveling the length of Vietnam. We had opted for a bus from Ho Chi Minh City north through Mui Ne and Dalat. Both are beautiful places and worth a visit on your way north.
It was a 30-minute ride from Da Nang and usually costs something between 15 and 30 dollars. We took a taxi, which cost me $20. The car had a very good air conditioning system and we were very comfortable. the driver didn't speak much English, he was very nice. Always look for the driver in Vietnam with the green vests. You can be sure you are getting a good cab with no tricks on the price. You pay by the meter and not a random price they offer.
As you can tell, it's not as easy to get to Hoi An as most of the cities in Vietnam. That makes many people give up on the idea, so usually, the city is very peaceful and not crowded at all. Also, that's the main reason it looked so well-preserved and clean. Once we got there – I was finally able to start relaxing a bit. We could enjoy the wonderful places, food, and activities that the city of peace offered us.
Hoi An Old Town UNESCO City
Old Town Hoi An is the top of the must-see list. We went there on the second day of our stay. As we were walking through the streets, I couldn't help but notice the beautiful ancient houses. Also, there was no traffic, only a few business owners can drive into the old town area. Pretty much everybody was riding a bike or walking. This is the reason the air was so clean and another reason the town is so preserved.
Old Town Hoi An was full of breathtaking views and nice restaurants. Most of them offer authentic food at reasonable prices. You can also opt for some food from the street vendors for a fraction of the cost. If you want to eat in a restaurant with a nice view like on Thu Bon river you may have to pay a higher price. The food is the same as the street vendors and many times not as good. You will have to decide if that view is really worth it. For us, we buy from a street vendor and walk to the river for lunch. Same view for half the cost of the restaurant.
We ate a pretty inexpensive lunch while looking at Thu Bon. I asked a street vendor about a nice place to visit next and he told me about a museum. He said was the best one in Old Town – the Museum of History and Culture. To be honest, it wasn't anywhere near a waste of one of my tickets.
Old Town Museum
I don't know if I mentioned this, but entering Old Town Hoi An costs $6. With the entrance ticket, you also get 5 tickets that you can use to enter whichever attraction you want. This is a great deal, for the amount of money you spend. The museum was pretty much what I would call amazing. Anyone who likes history would find the pictures and information inside useful.
You will find images of what Hoi An used to look like in the past. Good information about the town's history and general information about Vietnam. Information about its past Emperors is available all around the museum. We loved that on the (highest) floor of the museum building, there was a nice bar. that had a great view over Hoi An and is a great place to have a fresh juice and unwind.
Hoi An Old Town Nightime Lanterns
By the time we exited the museum around 7 pm, it was already getting dark so I thought it was time for me to go back to the hotel. On my way out, I saw a group of tourists in a big circle, seeming to have a lot of fun. It turned out that the daily, so-called “Folk Game” was taking place.
You pay 50 cents to play in a traditional form of a Vietnamese gambling game. Everybody participating chooses a paddle with a number on it. They hang each of the paddles on a rope and stay there throughout a music show that lasts for 15 or 20 minutes. The singer chooses a paddle and if its number matches yours – you get a bag full of prizes. It was a very fun and original way to lose 50 cents!
Hoi An Night Food Tour
The next morning, I decided we had to dedicate the day to what I love the most. Yes, I'm talking about food. Turns out, Hoi An offers a perfect tour for people like me – Hoi An Food Tour by Night.
I realized I could not dedicate an entire day to food since the tour only starts after sunset. Burning some calories while breathing fresh and unpolluted air was a great way to spend the day. We decided to walk a bit around the Old Town and see if anything we hadn't seen would catch my eye.
We visited the Japanese Covered Bridge which was amazing. The guide said that it used to connect them to the Chinese. The Japanese made it so solid and strong, it can survive most earthquakes and up to 15 elephants walking on it. There were two pairs of monkeys and dogs at the entrance of the bridge. Most Japanese Emperors were born in the years of the monkey and the Dog.
We visited a few galleries with paintings of the 19th-century look of Hoi An. There were also portraits of soldiers before, during and after the war. I couldn't help thinking about the food I was about to have. Thank God, by the time I exited the last gallery, it was time for me to head to the center of the Old Town. We met up with my group of food lovers and food tour guide.
Hoi An Food Tour In Old Town
The tour group was only 12 people. I thought there wasn't that much interest in the food tour. It turned out 12 is the max amount of people per group. They do that in order for the guide to answer everybody's questions and pay you enough attention.
Actually, the guide was as amazing as the food! She spoke perfect English and gave us a lot of extra information for the origin of each dish. I had a baguette sandwich and root beer in the first restaurant. The second offered a spicy cookie and a spicy chocolate milkshake that was excellent. There, we also had a deep-fried wonton and white rose dumplings then headed to the last stop.
This was a vegetarian restaurant. we sampled the traditional mussel salad and then ended the tour with a wonderful dessert. Not sure how the mussels were considered vegetarian. The rest of the group went to the Japanese Covered Bridge to drink coffee at that point. We went to the hotel since we were too exhausted and very, very full.
Final Thoughts on Hoi An
To be honest, Hoi An was a roller coaster. It was so hard to find a way to get there, I almost gave up 3 or 4 times. Once we actually got there it was more than worth the difficulty. I'm kind of glad people don't appreciate Hoi An enough. We would not have enjoyed our stay there as much if there were crowds all around. It's like my little secret. Hoi An, thank you for the knowledge, for the cleansing of my lungs, the peace and of course, for the food.
After a two day visit to Hoi An Old Town, where to next?
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