48 hours in Hoi An, Vietnam
If there is one place in the world that I’ve been to that most resembles a storybook town, Hoi An is it. Located on the central coast of Vietnam, Hoi An is a charming, colourful, lively town that’s a must-visit for anyone travelling to Vietnam.
Unless you’re travelling through Vietnam by road, to get to Hoi An it’s best to fly into the closest airport, Da Nang. You’ll then need to take a taxi journey (Approx. $25-$30 on the meter), 30km down the coast to reach this enchanting town.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Anantara Hoi An which is located almost in the centre of it all. It’s a relaxing sanctuary with colonial vibes, an amazing buffet breakfast and a luxe outdoor pool area for lazy afternoons. It’s all in the details here – handwritten notes on your bed, daily local fruit trays accompanied by a guide on how to enjoy each type, two room turn overs a day, lullabies left each evening and house made cookies. The Anantara is within walking distance of shops, restaurants and tailors, and they provide you with many activities to keep your days busy – cooking classes, bikes to ride through the rice paddies and sunset riverboat trips.
Get something tailored
Hoi An is known for its abundance of tailors. You can get anything made here – from custom-made suits to silk gowns to leather shoes and bags. If you’re going to get something tailored, make sure to leave yourself at least a few days to do so. Make sure to be specific with your order, measurements & details – bring along a sample garment or detailed images to ensure you get a great fit – and don’t forget your bartering skills. A leather tote bag will cost roughly $50 and simple cotton dresses about $20-$35. Trusted tailors that I can personally recommend:
Leather wallets & shoes: BI 99 (19 Pham Hong Thai St) is where we had leather boots and bags made here which we love. Be really specific with all details of your boots. At Dzung Free Spirit (1B Phan Boi Chau St) we had small leather purses made for about $12 each and leather sandals for $25.. Both of these stores are located right outside the Anantara Hotel.
Dresses: Binh Thuy (111 Nguyen Duy Hieu St) is where I had a cotton wrap dress made, and it’s the most perfect fitting dress in my wardrobe. If you want to get a dress made in good quality silk, I suggest brining 2-3 metres of silk from home (150cm in width) to ensure you get 100% silk which is colourfast, good quality and authentic. And remember, before getting too excited and ordering 10 items (I can’t be the only one guilty of this!), if you can spare the time, get one garment made (usually this takes 1-2 days) and make sure it fits, it’s good quality and you’re happy with it before ordering more garments. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to hit the tailors on your first day so you’ve got enough time for fittings and any adjustments.
The old town architecture in Hoi An is a unique mix of French Colonial, Japanese and Chinese. Spend your days wandering through the dreamy mustard coloured laneways and strolling down the canals. The city of Hoi An comes alive at night with colourful lanterns, street food stalls and lights. Sitting down by the river on a balmy evening with a drink in hand at the Mango Rooms makes for a pretty magical setting.
Cycling the streets of Hoi An is the best way to get out and explore the rice paddies, vegetable farms and the nearby An Bang beach. Most hotels offer bikes free of charge or you can rent these around the town.
If you’re planning to visit Hoi An, prepare yourself for a gastronomic affair to remember. Don’t leave without trying Bahn Mi and the local dish of White Rose dumplings – a steamed rice flour dumping with a centre of ground shrimp meat served with shallots and vinegar dressing. There’s plenty of cooking classes around the town so you can take some of the secrets home with you.
My favourite eateries are:
Minh Hien Vegetarian & Cooking Classes (50 Tran Cao Van | 30A Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoi An), make sure you try the fried and fresh spring rolls, banana leaf salad and white rose dumplings.
Morning Glory (106 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hoi An).
An Gia Cottage (93 Lac Long Quan, Hoi An).
Miss Ly (22 Nguyen Hue Street, Hoi An).
Mango Rooms (111 Nguyen Thai Hoc, Hoi An).
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