A popular tourist destination best known for its top tailors and colourful lanterns, Hoi An is a quaint but surprisingly large coastal town in Vietnam. We spent three days and nights exploring Hoi An’s streets, beaches, bridges and restaurants and learnt a few things along the way. This is what you need to know before arriving in Hoi An:
Getting there and around
- If you fly to Danang airport, take a taxi or private car into Hoi An which your hotel can book for you. The roughly 20 minute drive shouldn’t cost more than US$18.
- Some hotels offer free bicycles and they are the best way to get around. We really enjoyed exploring Hoi An on bikes but be careful of scooters and cars rushing past.
- Avoid using the yellow taxis as they rip you off and take you on uneccesary detours.
- Instead, flag down one of the many green taxis as they drive the most direct route to your destination and don’t sneakily bump the taxi meter up when you’re not looking.
Hoi An is known for its phenomenal clothing tailors who work quickly and meticulously to produce custom-made dresses, suits, coats and shoes.
- Find a good tailor as soon as you arrive to give the talented Hoi An locals enough time to produce exactly what you want.
- Tailored dresses, depending on the length, fabric and pattern range from US$15-25.
- Barter down the initial price especially if you are buying more than one garment. We constantly reminded store owners that we are South African tourists and that our currency is very weak compared to the US$.
- If you are only spending a night in Hoi An and don’t have time to for tailored items, spend some shopping at the many stores. At one store, I managed to buy two pairs of comfy shorts and three dresses that will be perfect for work and play for only R370 (less than US$25). Bargain!
Where to eat
- Secret Garden is hidden amongst Hoi An’s winding alleys and is perfect for a special ocassion (We celebrated Christmas Eve there) or if you feel like treating yourself. They serve the best cocktails we’ve tasted in Vietnam, the service was great and the garden setting with tranquil water features and gentle live music make the restaurant a welcome break from the bustling streets.
- Morning Glory is another popular restaurant and it is worth adding your name on the waiting list. The menu is diverse with an assortment of traditional Vietnamese dishes. I had the seafood noodles and it was delicious.
I highly recommend visiting Hoi An and, in addition to my travel tips above, try plan your trip around one of Hoi An’s beautiful lantern festivals and explore the night market for souvenirs, jewellery and lanterns.
Literally: Go out for a day, get a full basket of knowledge. (Vietnamese Proverb)