Ancient, peaceful, colorful, it’s why the charming city of Hoi An in central Vietnam is such a popular destination for travelers and locals alike. Indeed, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An’s Ancient Town is filled with traditional Vietnamese tube houses, heritage Chinese shophouses, a famed Japanese Covered Bridge and beautiful French colonial buildings, often painted in a sunny yellow. Hoi An is not only famous for its romantic ambiance but also its wonderful local cuisine, especially Com Ga (chicken rice), Cao Lau (a traditional noodle soup), and Banh bao - Banh vac, a secret recipe only available in the area. The vibrant handcrafted lanterns glowing in the evening dusk as small rowing boats gently glide down the Thu Bon River, and large amount of bespoke tailors and original handicrafts make this cute town the highlight of any trip to Vietnam.
Time to visit
The charming UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An is best visited between March and September, when the weather is hot and sunny. Between October and December, the central coast of Vietnam is prone to typhoons and flooding, so the area is best avoided, while the months of January and February are chillier than the rest of the year and leave less time to enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.
Hoi An contains an assortment of trendy boutiques, heritage stays, homey guesthouses, and branded luxury resorts and small beach retreats. Expect to pay between USD40-80 per night for a small boutique stay with a pretty swimming pool and cute rooms, while a luxury stay will set you back at least USD200 per night. For those preferring to stay on the beach rather than in the old town, keep in mind accommodation will cost between USD25-150 per night depending on the type of bungalow chosen.
Food & drink
Visitors to Vietnam are often astounded at the differences in flavours as they travel from the north to the south. Hoi An cuisine has been influenced by several different cultures throughout history, leaving an interesting heritage and blend of spices and aromas. Hoi An is well-known for dishes like “Cao Lau”, “Mi Quang”, bbq pork, wontons, and a type of dumpling called “white rose” or “banh bao banh vac”. Banh Mi sandwiches from Hoi An are often lauded as the best throughout the entire country, so make sure to try one while here. Eating at noodle shops and local restaurants outside of the main touristy area will set your wallet back between USD1-3, but if you eat in the old town, expect to pay at least USD5-15 per meal.
Wi-Fi is prevalent throughout Hoi An, whether in small cafes, restaurants, shops, spas and hotels. SIM Cards can be bought from main brands such as Viettel, Mobifone, and Vinaphone from USD2-3 and internet data for USD1-25 at nearly every shop on the street. In case of emergency, dial 113 for the police, 114 for fire, 115 for ambulance and first-aid. English is spoken more frequently here due to the many shops and tailors catered towards English-speaking tourists.
Hoi An Ancient town is a mostly pedestrian-only area, so it’s safe to walk or cycle most places. Bicycles cost around USD1 to rent per day, with cyclos on hand to bargain with for rides around the city center. Taxis are a bit more expensive than in the north, costing around USD1 per kilometer. Taxis and grab-cars frequently run the distance between Da Nang and Hoi An at about USD20 one-way, and will wait at either destination to return you to your hotel. In these situations its worth it to tip an extra USD2-5 on top of the fare for their time.
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