Summer 2018: Hoi An
It was easy for us to see, while in Hoi An, why many travelers forego their plans and decided to spend more time in the city. The relaxed atmosphere, beaches, and cheap drinks make for an incredibly relaxing stay.
Local foods you should know about, and try:
- Cao lau - A regional dish made with noodles, greens, and pork that can only be found in Hoi An.
- White rose dumplings - Reportedly made by one family for all of the restaurants in the town, these are typically a shrimp dumpling in rice paper wrapper, steamed, and covered with crispy garlic. The French gave them the “white rose” moniker based on their looks. We had veggie ones, and they were great!
|you can see them in the top left of this photo!|
- Mi quang noodles - A variety of pho, local to Hoi An made with rice flour noodles, veggies, and meat. It’s topped with broth, but not as much as you’d find in a soup.
- Fresh beer - Local beer made in Hoi An that will cost you between 17 and 21 cents per glass depending upon where you get it. Light and refreshing in the heat, low alcohol content but exactly the right thing after a hot day around town.
Minh Hien - There are 3 locations of Minh Hien in Hoi An and we visited two of them. Number 1 is the original, with super friendly staff (and a few pups to pet). We also visited Number 2, and had a great night chatting with a family from NorCal, on vacation in Vietnam for a month. People recommend Minh Hien because you are able to try local foods, veggie-style. We had the white rose dumplings here, as well as some Hoi An noodles, pho, wonton soup, and fried spring rolls. The fresh beer abounds, and we had fun singing Disney movie music with the workers.
Ba Dam Vegetarian - Tucked down a side street in the old town area, Ba Dam is a small, family-run restaurant popular with locals (who order without a menu). They have a buffet outside where you can get food to go (veggies, mock meats, some soups), and a sit down area inside. No English here, but communication was easy as we pointed and gestured to what we wanted. The verdict? Best [veggie] cao lau in the city, hands down. Cao Lao is a local noodle dish, typically prepared with meats and hand cut noodles. I also loved the pho, and the passion fruit juice was incredible. We were able to watch a man making the noodles, and the whole family working together they prepare the food.
Bahn Mi Phuong - Made famous by a visit from Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations, this banh mi lives up to the hype. They serve the sandwich in all its varieties (meats, pate, tofu, etc.) and sell a homemade aloe and coconut water drink that Rick fell in love with. Although they are capitalizing on the publicity (signs with Tony’s picture hang in the shop, and he’s even printed on the wrapper), it wasn’t too crowded when we visited.
|(sorry this is upside down!)|
|There is a tradition of leaving passport photos under the glass on tables at restaurants here. We left a sticker, with art from an friend of a friend, Tucker.|
Quan Chay Nhat Da - Very fresh vegetarian food. We had a dumpling soup (with a strong lemongrass and curry flavor), veggie cao lau, fresh spring rolls, and a green papaya salad.
Annen - Purely vegetarian restaurant with super fresh food, light flavors. This is also where you can take yoga classes in Hoi An. I didn't go, as the times were a bit weird, but we really enjoyed the food. We tried vegetarian cao lau, had a great green salad, and a Vietnamese coffee with soy milk.
The T Room - I mean, you knew we’d find the gin bar, right? Great selection of gins from Australia, England, and Scotland, including our newest favorite from home, Isle of Harris. We tried Four Pillars varieties, the rare dry and bloody Shiraz, with a new-to-us tonic, Thomas Henry. Had a great time talking with the Columbian guy working the bar, too!
The Fisherman - Visiting An Bang beach is a must when in Hoi An. The Fisherman is a vegan restaurant, beach front, with beach chairs and umbrellas as well as a covered restaurant space. We enjoyed some smoothies, swimming, beer, and house music. Such a relaxing afternoon!
BeBe Tailors - The custom clothing market in Hoi An is huge. There are tons of shops that allow you to choose fabrics and styles, and customize any item you want. We had fun picking out some options for ourselves, and the staff at BeBe did great work. They were recommended by our homestay, and are one of the larger operations in town. It took about 36 hours from start to finish, including two fittings for each of us! Not too bad!
|loved these propaganda-style posters at BeBe|
Tu-Chi Leather Bags - I got a fantastic two-toned bag from Tu-Chi on our last morning. The quality is great (I did the lighter test), and prices very reasonable (they take credit cards, too!). We realized too late (but probably luckily) that Tu-Chi also makes custom leather shoes. A pair of Chelsea boots for Rick would have been only $75, which is a great price for custom, leather shoes. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we didn’t head to the shop until about an hour before we left Hoi An, so no shoes for us!
Wander in old town Hoi An in the evening. Yes, it will be super crowded, but the lanterns on the buildings, boats, and in the water make for a beautiful scene. After 8:30pm, it starts to thin out a bit.
Ride bikes. Our homestay provided these for free, along with a lock, and it was super easy to get around town. We rode into Hoi An, to the beach, and all around. The people on scooters and in cars and buses are super conscientious, which made biking feel like a breeze.
Visit the beach— both An Bang and Cua Dai beaches are beautiful, and easy to get to. There is bike parking and umbrella/sun bed rental in both locations.
We flew JetStar Airlines to De Nang from Ho Chi Minh City. One thing to note about JetStar— as a budget carrier, they have a reputation for delays and we did have a delay en route to De Nang. It’s a quick flight, only about an hour and twenty minutes. We purchased the flight with our Capital One Venture credit card, which made it a reimbursable travel expense.
Our homestay helped us book a transfer to and from the airport— about 300,000 dong each way (~$13), for a 45-minute drive.
We booked Ngan Phu Villa via Hotels.com, using a gift card Rick purchased using Citi Thank You points.
Talk to you all soon!
We are currently in: Luang Prabang, Laos
Next stop: Bangkok, Thailand