Hoi An

It’s official, I have found the most beautiful town ever to exist, this being Hoi An. Hoi An is a small town located in Vietnam, south from the capital city of Hanoi. Everything about Hoi An appealed to me, from the food, to the people and then to the night life. It was just amazing.

We arrived in Hoi An after an overnight train from Ho Chi Minh city. We were sleep deprived, hungry and already sweating in the 30+ degree heat, but as soon as we saw Hoi An we quickly forgot about all of this as we were too busy taking in our surroundings.

In order to explore Hoi An you need to buy a ticket. I can imagine many people do not pay this ticket price as it is not heavily patrolled, however if a policeman asks to see the ticket and you don’t have it, expect a fine.

We started the day with an orientation walk around the quaint little town, we were shown all the main places to go and were explained the history behind the area. After this we grabbed breakfast at one of the many quirky cafes lining the streets.

In Hoi An, their speciality is tailor making and silk. If you were just to take a screenshot of a dress you liked from an online shop and then take it to a tailor there, they could make it perfectly to your size for a fraction of the price in just 1 day. Buying tailor made clothes is an absolute must as all items are stunning and are so cheap. If I was to buy this in England I would be spending heaps of money for a fraction of the quality. I purchased some pure silk handmade pyjamas and some silk trousers for only $70 USD (about £50). Amazing!

The same afternoon of ordering my clothes, I went on a bicycle tour of Hoi An where we were able to see all the sights. We stopped off at rice paddies, a famous old couple (which was a slightly weird tourist attraction), water buffaloes and their famous round boats. The boats were so much fun and my rower was crazy. I loved it. Coming back to the hostel was traumatic however, as we had to ride on the roads, and anyone who’s been to Vietnam knows the level of traffic. I was pedalling at the back of the group and we just had to ride out into intersections with traffic coming left right and center. I got cut off from the rest of the group at a traffic light and then had to cycle out by myself, it was everyman for themselves at this point. Looking back at it, it’s quite funny, but at the time I genuinely thought I would be in a motorbike accident at any second.

In Hoi An, lanterns line every street and every corner. We first saw these during the day, draping from building to building. It was beautiful and authentic. At night the lanterns lit up the whole sky as they began to switch on. It was like the scene from ‘Tangled’ where the lanterns are all around them as they are on the boat. It truly was like a movie scene. On the river people set off lanterns to float off to illuminate even more of the town. The lanterns you set off down the river, granted are beautiful, however they are polluting. The litter from the lanterns is not collected so it ends up polluting the waters and adding yet more plastic to our oceans, which as everyone knows damages the environment and animals. I wanted to set one off however I decided that the well-being of our planet is more important than an aesthetically pleasing village.

On our second day here in Hoi An we had a Vietnamese cooking lesson. We learnt how to cook Vietnamese cuisine at a restaurant called ‘Streets’ which is a charity based restaurant supported by ‘G Adventures’. The aim of Streets is to employ Vietnamese people who come from a poor background, and train them up in customer service and cooking. After all their training they receive all the qualifications they need to be employed in better jobs at 5* resorts and restaurants. This really improves their standard of living. The cooking lesson itself was amazing and we were able to see all the different ways they use rice. It was a good insight to their culture.

So, if you’re ever in Vietnam, visit Hoi An.

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