Hoi An

Affectionately known as the Venice of South East Asia, Hoi An is a quaint, idyllic, and beautiful town that also has the pleasure of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stayed at the Sunflower Hotel, which was a little bit of a trek from the main downtown area. Our room had so many leaking water/flooding problems, but the staff dealt with it very well. Plus, there was an amazing pool and breakfast buffet included. 

Since the Old City was not quite walking distance, the four of us rented out bicycles for the day to explore. Our first stop was the Japanese Covered Bridge, where we also purchased a $6 ticket. The ticket lists many different sites in the Old City, and by purchasing it you can choose any five of the listed sites to visit. At each place, they just rip off a piece of your ticket until your five “coupons” are gone. 

After the bridge, our next stop was the Nguyen Tuong Family Chapel. There were many wonderful trinkets and art prints to purchase here, which we all took advantage of. 

We also saw the Museum of Hoi An, the Quan Cong Temple, and a dance performance at the Craft Manufacturing Workshop. Our ticket wasn’t ripped off for the dance, so we also snuck in a visit to the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall. Although the sites aren’t particularly large or spectacular, there is something so beautiful and charming about it all. The Old City is heavily inspired by Japanese architecture and style — dragons, lanterns, pig statues, etc. Once again, Hoi An is an example of how completely different each area of Vietnam is. 

For dinner, we went to Green Moss Restaurant. By pitching an extra $2 to the cost of your meal, you can learn how to cook your dish! The chef takes you back into the extremely sweltering kitchen, and walks you through the steps and ingredients you need to make your meal. It was a really cool experience to see just how all the mouth-watering Vietnamese food is made. 

The next day, we took a tour to the My Son ruins, another World Heritage Site. The site contains ruins from the 4th Century AD, known as the Champa Era. After the temples at Angkor Wat, My Son was a little underwhelming, but I still recommend visiting it to learn more about the history of the Vietnamese. A cool fact we learned is that the ruins were used as a base by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War — this enabled them to be exempt from American bombs because of the heritage nature of My Son.

It was incredibly hot touring the ruins. The sun was unbearable, and as our tour guide walked us from spot to spot, we followed the shade instead. 

The rest of our time in Hoi An was spent shopping, eating, and walking along the river at nighttime. This city is infamous for its tailors… literally almost every single store is a tailor. Not even just a normal clothes store, but a tailor. Since we were only there for a few days, we didn’t feel like getting anything tailored, which made shopping quite a nuisance. Thankfully, we found this sweet little shop, Duong Thanh Shop, close by to our hotel. The lady sold beautiful ready-made clothes that she made herself, and I almost bought her entire stock of clothes (almost). 

Down by the riverside, the night is full of lanterns and children’s songs. There are many candles floating in the river, lanterns hanging from roof to roof, and lights decorating the bridge. It is a truly magical and beautiful experience. 

Highs: Biking around the city, strolling along the riverside at night, clothes shopping, learning how to cook our meals at Green Moss Restaurant

Lows: Our room flooding (twice), the intense heat at the My Son ruins