As travelers, we all need a location for peace and relaxation. A great way to get it is by going to Hoi An, Vietnam. Actually, “Hoi An” literally translates to English as “peaceful meeting place”.
CURRENT GOVERNMENT INFORMATION
First of all, I have to say that Hoi An isn’t an easy destination to reach. By that, I mean it is somehow “hidden” and takes a lot of determination to get to it.
Since the city of Hoi An does not have an airport or a railway, our best option was to fly to Da Nang and then from there, take a taxi to Hoi An.
It was a 30-minute ride from Da Nang that usually costs something between $15 and $30. The taxi had a very good air conditioning system and although the driver didn’t speak much English, he was very nice.
Since it’s not very easy to get to Hoi An, the city is very peaceful and not crowded at all. Also, that’s probably the reason it looked so well-preserved and clean.
We were finally able to start relaxing and enjoying the wonderful places, food, and activities that the city of peace has to offer.
Hoi An Old Town
Old Town Hoi An is probably on the top of the must-see list. Entering Old Town Hoi An costs $6 and with the entrance ticket. You also get 5 tickets that you can use to enter whichever attraction you want, which is a great deal, in my opinion. As we were walking through the streets, we couldn’t help but notice the crazy amount of beautiful ancient houses that were everywhere. Also, there was almost no traffic – in fact, pretty much everybody was riding a bike or just walking. This was 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, offering authentic food for reasonable prices. We wanted to eat in a restaurant with a nice view of the Thu Bon river that is running through Hoi An. We figured it would cost a tad more but it was definitely worth it.
Hoi An Museums
We asked our waiter after we had finished lunch, about a nice place to visit next and he told us about a museum. He said was the best one in Old Town - the Museum of History and Culture. The museum was simply amazing. Anyone that has an interest in history would find the pictures and information inside very useful. You can see images of what Hoi An used to look like in the past. It had a lot about the town's history and also a lot of general information about Vietnam. Information about its past Emperors is available all around the museum. Also, I loved that on the top floor of the museum building, there was an area that had a great view over Hoi An.
Hoi An City Guide
Folk Games in Old Town
By the time we exited the museum (maybe around 7:00 pm), it was already getting dark so we thought it was time for us to go back to the hotel. On our 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. Basically, you pay 50 cents to participate in a traditional form of a Vietnamese gambling game. Everybody participating chooses a paddle with a number on it. Other paddles are hung on a rope and stay there throughout a music show that lasts for 15 or 20 minutes. The singer then chooses a paddle and if it's number matches yours - you get a bag full of prizes. It was a very fun and original way to spend 50 cents!
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Japanese Covered Bridge
The next morning, we decided to dedicate the day to what we love the most. Yes, I'm talking about food. Turns out, Hoi An offers a tour that was made just for people like us - Hoi An Food Tour by Night. We realized that since the tour only starts after sunset, we had to work up a good appetite by walking a bit around the Old Town and see if anything we hadn't seen would catch our eye. We visited the Japanese Covered Bridge which was amazing. The guide said that while building it to connect themselves to the Chinese, the Japanese made it solid and strong. So solid and strong, it can survive most earthquakes and up to 15 elephants walking on it. Also, there were two pairs of monkeys and dogs at the entrance of the bridge, because the Japanese Emperors were born in the years of the monkey and the dog.
After that, we visited a shop and a few galleries with paintings of the 19th-century look of Hoi An and portraits of soldiers before, during and after the war. By the time we exited the last gallery, it was time for us to head to the center of the Old Town and meet up with the group of food lovers and our food tour guide.
Finally, the Food
To be honest, we had been nibbling a tad during the day at the wonderful street vendors all through Hoi An.
Surprisingly, the tour group was only 12 people and we, at first, though there wasn't enough interest in the food tour. It turns out that 12 is the maximum amount of people per group so that the guide can answer everybody's questions and give you personal 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 and beverage we asked her about.
We had a baguette sandwich and root beer in the first restaurant and a spicy cookie and a spicy chocolate milkshake in the second place, that was a cafeteria. Then, we had a deep fried wonton and white rose dumplings and finally, we headed to our last stop, which was a vegetarian restaurant. We sampled the traditional mussel salad and then ended the tour with a wonderful dessert at a local's grandma's home. The rest of the group went to the Japanese Covered Bridge to drink coffee, but we headed to the hotel since we were exhausted and already very, very full.
Just What We Needed
Honestly, Hoi An was just what we needed. It was difficult to find a simple way to get there, but once we actually got there, we were blown away. The city is so underrated. I'm kind of glad people don't appreciate Hoi An enough, because I don't think we would have enjoyed our stay there as much as we did if there had been crowds all around. It's our little secret. Hoi An, thank you for the peace and quiet, the historical information, and of course, for the food.