Hoi An is one of the must sees’ of Vietnam according to many travel guides and I can tell it is. I recently visited this village to check out some activities in Hoi An and find new, unique things to do. It has the perfect combination of long stretched, white sandy beaches and cultural heritage. Although it is touristy, the colorful colonial houses, small little streets and the opportunity to still find some quiet, local getaways make it still worth a visit. If you are a Hong Kong citizen, like me, or want to do a quick Hong Kong visit from Vietnam, it’s only a 1,5 hour flight to and from Danang; a perfect long weekend destination.
Hoi An, a little colonial getaway
I love local markets as it provides a good picture of the people, local food and cultural habits. The old-town of Hoi An also has a little market where the people offer a wide range of local products from handicraft, flowers, fish, meat and all kind of herbs and vegetables. This market is located in the middle of the colonial part of Hoi An with its colorful Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and small, little streets. Nowadays most of the houses here are restaurants or little (souvenir) shops. Lounge bars, boutique hotels, travel agents and a glut of tailor shops are very much part of the scene here. It’s nice to stroll around for a few hours (1-3 hours already gives you a good impression). In the evening these streets are decorated with lanterns that creates a cozy atmosphere. To have either lunch or dinner I can recommend Morning Glory or Lantern Town which my husband and I tried ourselves.
A bike tour that takes you off the beaten track
Just a few kilometers further you see a different Hoi An that goes back to the time Hoi An wasn’t a tourist hub yet. We did a lovely bike tour with Thu and Pascal. They took us by boat to a little island in the middle of the river delta where Thu grew up and where her family is still living. There was a little breeze, a nice afternoon sun and it was so peaceful. We didn’t see any tourists as this is still an island not known by travelers. We got a peak into traditional village life. We met women weaving the traditional sleeping mats, using a method that has been handed over from generation to generation. We visited a local rice wine brewery and tried to row a basket boat, which was a real challenge! The people where so friendly and curious. If you have the chance to do a bike tour to this village, I would definitely recommend it as I expect this traditional way of life will not last for long because the younger generation is moving to the big cities searching for other ways of income.
Laid back local village
Our final days in Hoi An we spent in a little village called An Bang which is located 5 km outside Hoi An right at the beach. This place has still hardly any accommodation, chickens roam freely around, the beach is quiet; we just LOVED it! We met Tan who started a homestay a few years back with the goal to help the local community to earn extra money. She helped Huong who lost her husband and father in law when they where out fishing. With the land of Huong and some help they started to build a couple of little houses to host guests. Nowadays many people from the community are involved as a guard, driver, chef, cleaner etc. The houses called Avocado, Ocean View, Ocean Breeze and Flower and are all made out of natural materials that fit the surroundings. It really feels like a homestay although you have your own place. You can join a local fisherman for a day, help Tan teaching English to the children in the community or learn to cook traditional Vietnamese food. Breakfast is served every morning at your doorstep and if you wish, lunch or dinner as well. We loved the food on the corner from restaurant Cay Me. Their spring rolls are the best we’ve ever had! Another good place at the beach is The White Sail. We ordered the fish in tomato sauce with coriander and the pumpkin with garlic. Fabulous! As you are so close to the An Bang community it was really a wonderful local experience!
Looking for some off the beaten things to do or places to sleep? Check out these amazing local travel experiences in Vietnam!