THE FAIRYTALE OF HOI AN
How many travel articles does Hoi An feature on? Countless. How many stories can this fabled old town tell? Countless. How many photos will you take of the gorgeous architectural blend? You guessed it – countless. And how many tourists are there in Hoi An at any given time? Well, you can see the pattern. Hoi An is Vietnam’s most successful tourism destination, and that’s largely due to the pristine (but minute) old town. Hoi An is one of the few port cities that survived the wars unscathed, making it a unique gem in Vietnam’s tourism crown.
Hoi An is like a fairytale – its charms extend beyond the imagination. This is an ancient trading port that sports European, Vietnamese, and Chinese architecture. You can drift from boutique artisanal shop to stunning historic house to picturesque café all before lunch. In the evening, hanging lanterns illuminate the streets while floating lanterns bring the river to life.
The old town is a dream, but Hoi An has so much more to offer, from funky beaches to exceptional food to vibrant countryside. Hoi An’s picture-perfect streets are unmissable, but it’s going beyond the old town that makes a trip here exceptional.
Beautiful Beaches of Hoi An
Beach culture has taken on a life of its own in Hoi An, so much so that it’s even starting to steal a few beams of spotlight from the old town. Those that come for a weekend and stay for a month have often been seduced by the beaches, which are clean, organized, numerous, accessible, and all the other things that good beaches should be.
These are not remote wild beaches that look perfect in a photo but lack facilities and easy access. Instead, Hoi An’s beaches are easy strips of sand with fun beach bars, great restaurants, and warm, shallow waters. Choose to stay at the beach and visit the old town or stay in the old town and visit the beach. Either way you won’t be disappointed.
Hoi An's Fantastic Food
Hoi An is a haven for foodies. Firstly, there’s the indigenous food, specialties that you won’t find anywhere else in the country or indeed the world. Hoi An has a 500-year-old history, with culinary influence from the Chinese, Portuguese, and French. The result is something completely unique and includes fragrant noodle soups and delicious dumpling dishes.
Then there’s the wider central Vietnamese food, which has a distinct flavor of its own. It’s sweet, spicy, and addictive – many say that the food in central Vietnam is the best in the country. Classic dishes include chicken with rice and white flat noodles. But Hoi An is also a developing destination for international cuisine in Asia, with aspiring chefs from all over the world setting up shop to the delight of visitors.
There’s something about the light in central Vietnam – especially in the summer months – that makes everything pop. The rice terraces are greener. The sky is bluer. And the fireball sunrises and sunsets burn a florescent orange that you’ll rarely see anywhere else. The countryside is magnificent across the region, but Hoi An is one of the best places to take it all in.
Why? Because a steady stream of intrepid travelers eager to get off the beaten track means an array of establishments dotted around the area to draw them in. That includes charming organic farms, boutique homestays, idyllic cafes, and cozy family restaurants.
Absorbing History of Hoi An
The old town in Hoi An stretches back half a millennium, but that pales in comparison to the cultures that came before. Hoi An is home to My Son, Vietnam’s answer to Angor Wat of Cambodia and Bagan of Myanmar.
The temples may not be as grand as their rivals in other parts of Southeast Asia, but they reflect a civilization that was equally as sophisticated. Back to the old town, it’s easy to wander around dreamlike Hoi An and forget that these beautiful buildings are the result of a long and compelling history. This is best explored in the colorful clan houses, colonial facades, and Hoi An’s iconic bridge.
Don’t disregard Danang, especially if you’re a fan of clean cities nestled in exceptional settings. Danang might not have the imperial splendor of Hue or old-world charm of Hoi An, but it’s still one of central Vietnam’s highlight destinations.
From any point in Danang you can see the mountains or the sea, and sometimes both, resulting in phenomenal natural vistas that contrast with the city’s modern skyline. You can monkey-spot in the mountains, go swimming in the sea, and throw back a beer in a hip riverside bar all in the same afternoon.
At night the city really ramps things up, with Vietnam’s most decorated river, home to a fire-breathing dragon (no joke).
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“I love the simple things when I travel, like sitting outside a local coffee shop soaking up an amazing sunset over the Thu Bon River in Hoi An, or a steaming bowl of Hu Tieu with all the toppings on a Saigon sidewalk. I can’t wait to share with you our beautiful landscapes, friendly people, stunning cuisine and more in Vietnam.”
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