A Quick Guide to Hoi An

9. November 2022
Richard Narlow

Hoi An is a coastal city half way between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Once Hoi An has been the largest harbor in whole Vietnam and was situated at the famous Silk Route (until the 13th century the most important trading route in Asia).

Today Hoi An is known for its lovely old town with all the small houses and especially for the many tailors

How to get there? 

The best way to get to Hoi An is by bus or by plane. The closest airport is in Danang, about 15 miles away from Hoi An. From here you can take a taxi which is supposed to be around 15-20$. Although I took a taxi from there I can’t really say what the real price was because I was too careless und unprepared and didn't have the address of my hotel written in Vietnamese.

The result was a 2hour-drive to I-don’t-know-where and an arrival at a 5 star luxury hotel somewhere at the beach. That was quite a surprise because the guesthouse I booked didn't look that spectacular. The thing was, my taxi driver had mixed up Sun Boat Hotel, a cute guest house at the Thu Bon river, and Sunrise Resort, a huge Hotel by the ocean (the way there would have taken him perhaps 30minutes from the airport, so he might have been new on the job).

Another 20 minutes later I finally arrived at the right guest house and my taxi driver was sweating all over.

Tailors in Hoi An

From the hotel it was a 10 minute walk along Thu Bon river to Hoi An’s old town. The historic center itself isn’t particularly huge but there’s a lot to see. There are many market stalls that sell fruits, vegetables and all kinds of livestock.

And in every alley there are tailors. Not the run-of-the-mill kind but really good ones. Of course I got one or two pieces as well… I decided for Kimmy Tailor, one of the most popular tailors in Hoi An and the clothes I got there really fit like a glove.

But you should stay at least 2 days in Hoi An if you want to have something tailored (3 would be even better) because the fitting and tailoring will take a little while. But never mind, Hoi An is so beautiful that you want to stay longer than just one day even if you’re not into buying clothes.

Japanese Bridge

An important landmark in Hoi An and the most popular sight is the Japanese bridge Chùa Câu, a small bridge in the historic center that is crossing a side arm of the Thu Bon. The roofed wooden bridgework connects the two city centers of Hoi An, on the one side the Chinese on the other the Japanese. Depending on the hour and the weather you need a little patience to cross the bridge because there are so many people around. –But when it’s midday and 40°C your almost alone.

Hoi An Beach

From the old town it is a little far to Hoi An beach (3 miles), for that reason there are bikes to rent everywhere around. On our second day in Hoi An I took two from our hotel. The area is flat and it is easy to get around by bike so I thought this project should be an easy one… It wasn’t!

Somewhere I took a wrong way and didn’t realize it until one hour later when I started to wonder how long 3 miles can possibly be. Honestly, I was completely lost. After another 20 minutes I met another couple on a scooter and a bit further some guys on bikes and all of them were searching for the beach but one of them knew the way back to the main road.

Long story short: after a bit more than two hours I finally arrived at Hoi An Beach. And the beach is absolutely lovely. Of course I hadn’t brought sunscreen with us (because I rarely do) but thought it would be so clever to lie around at the beach for a little while. Maybe I already had a sunstroke?! After another hour in the sun I took the bikes and drove back to our guest house – under the blazing sun.

And I can tell you, I had a sunburn from hell. Honestly, I was red as a lobster and it hurt. And the next two weeks I could only were long sleeves and pants with long legs. Even the Brits laughed at me. It was so embarrassing. Normally I’m the one wondering how people manage to look like this… Timo was sunburned as well but not half as bad as I was. But that taught me never to do something like this again without packing some sunscreen. 

-But the hour at the beach was truly nice. And not that you think it is so hard to get to the beach, it’s only when your head is somewhere up in the clouds.

Restaurants in Hoi An

Thank god the sunburn hasn’t had an influence on my appetite. Along Thu Bon River in the city center there are many cute restaurant with light chains and lampions. The most of them have pretty patios with a beautiful view on the river and the hustle bustle around it. And no matter where I had dinner during the days in Hoi An it was delicious. 

And when you cross the river close to the Japanese Bridge there is a night market. There you can e.g. buy the lampions under which you had dinner in all colors and sizes. I had to admit that the big ones wouldn’t fit in our luggage, bit the small ones did.

Where to stay?

I loved it at the Sun Boat Hotel, even if it wasn’t 5* ;). It isn’t exactly in the city center but when you don’t mind a short walk it is perfect. The rooms were clean, pool was clean, and the staff was great.

During my next few trips I tried more guesthouses in this area. One of the best places I stayed at is called "Riverside White House Hotel". A bit more pricey but well worth it with a beautiful pool and fantastic view on the river.

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