If there is one place in Vietnam we visited that was completely different than all the rest, it was Hoi An. About forty five minutes south of Da Nang, this sweet little town is just waiting to steal your heart with its lovely colored lanterns, amazing souvenir and clothing shops and trafic free old center. It’s a fresh breath away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of Vietnam.
And with these four following activities, you can make the most out of your stay in this little paradise.
1. Evening walk through the streets of the old center
The best thing about Hoi An is simply the amazing atmosphere in the old city center after sunset. Just stroll underneath a roof of colorful lanterns through the streets and along the water and simply enjoy! There is no other place quite like this.
If you’re feeling romantic you can even get in one of the rowing boats and buy some wishing boats to set free on the river. We couldn’t have found a better activity for Valentine’s Day even if we tried, don’t you think?
2. Tea stop at ‘Reaching Out’ tea house
We were drawn to this tea house for the beauty of the building, but what we found inside was even more beautiful. ‘Reaching Out’ isn’t just a regular tea house. It’s a place that’s run by deaf and disabled people. There they get the chance to develop and improve their abilities and talents in a normal workspace. To be able to communicate you get blocks with words on it and to order you simply fill in a form. They’ve worked it all out so there are no obstacles.
On top of that all, their products are also from locally owned, sustainable and fair-trade businesses.
We took our seat outside in their little garden where a little pond just adds to the quiet and calm atmosphere. People are also expected to whisper so this tea house is just the perfect place to unwind.
Only one thing to say about this all; a really beautiful initiative and perfect place for an afternoon break.
3. Eat Banh Mi at Madam Khanh
One cannot say they have had the best Banh Mi before having stopped at Madam Khanh; the Banh Mi Queen. There you can taste a bit of heaven. It’s simply delicious and that for only 20.000 dong (=less than one euro).
Madam Khanh’s shop is right outside of the old center in the north of the city. If you don’t know where it is, you can easily walk past it. There is no pomp and circumstance, just a tiny place with about four tables behind her sandwish stand. There is only one thing on the menu and that is the famous Vietnamese sandwish Banh Mi. You can however choose to add chili to it or not. Either way, it’s like heaven on a plate!
Careful, at 7pm, Madam Khanh closes her shop for the day, but the morning after she’s already back at her post at 7am, and that since 1985.
4. Get yourself a new wardrobe
Okay, that might be a little bit exaggerated, especially if you’re backpacking, but you simply can’t leave Hoi An without having at least one piece of clothing tailor-made. Even your wildest dreams can be realised here. Just go ahead and ask and they’ll fix your item until you’re completely happy about it. And that for the price of a normal piece of clothing in Europe. It’s insane.
There are a lot of shops in the old town of Hoi An -more than you can probably choose from-, but my friends went to a shop right outside of those limits; MK Silk. This shop is a lot bigger than the others so you have more room for fitting and the sales lady is just the sweetest.
We went to choose our clothes in the morning and the day after we could already go back for a first fitting, so even if you’re only in Hoi An for a short amount of time, you can get your perfect piece of clothing made for you.
With those four activities, you’ve experiences the best of Hoi An. This town was definitely one of my favorite places we’ve visited during our three-week trip through Vietnam so skipping it should be considered a crime.