The beautiful old town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an ancient South East Asian trading port that dates back to the 15th and 19th centuries. The architecture and street layout is influenced by a variety of countries that traded there; the Chinese, Dutch, French and Indians. Nowadays, the town is popular with tourists and is a well established stop-off on the ‘South East Asia Backpacker Trail’ and remarkably has turned into a bit of a Mecca for fashion-conscious flashpackers! Well, where else can you get a tailor made suit, a dress and a pair of handmade flip flops for under $50?!
Things to do in Hoi An
- Made to Measure: The main street through Hoi An is lined with Tailors that glisten with fabrics and silks of hundreds of different colours and textures. Enthusiastic saleswomen beckon you in, eager to measure every inch of your body and have you fitted for that perfect new outfit! Beware fellow backpackers, once inside it is addictive!
- Market Life: There’s a very interesting local market selling everything from live chickens to dragon fruit to tacky souvenirs. Best experienced in the early morning when the market is at it’s busiest, every day market life is interesting to watch as locals trade goods and haggle prices. As you walk through the market towards the Port, you’ll find the ‘FIsh Market.’ Boat loads of crabs, mackerel, cockles and other seafood come in every day to be sold in the market stalls. Fishing is still an important economic activity in Hoi An.
- Cau Lao and other Hoi An Specialities: At many of the cafes and indeed within the local market itself, you can try many delicious and freshly cooked local specialities cooked right in front of your eyes. Try the Vietnamese savoury pancakes, (Ban Xeo) or the famous Pork noodle soup.
- Rent a bicycle: For around $1 you can hire a bicycle for the day, get off the beaten track and explore the streets around Hoi An.Just a ten minute bicycle ride outside the main tourist enclave and you’ll find yourself amidst traditional Vietnamese village life. Water buffalo plough the rice fields and local children play in the narrow streets outside their wooden houses. It is about an hour ride to Hoi AnBeach, a windswept stretch of sand lined with palm trees.
- Cafe and Bar Life: There are some great cafes in Hoi An where you can while away a pleasnt afternoon munching delicious baked goods (influenced by French recipes!) and watch street life go by. And as night falls, the bars become lively with travellers sharing stories over a beer. There’s also a fun Salsa club (of all things!) across the river which s worth checking out if you’re in the mood for dancing!