Hoi An is located in the central region of Vietnam, better known for its well preserved Ancient Town. It has become a common stop for travelers which are traveling to both North and South Vietnam. I would say among other parts of Vietnam, this is one of the places where you can still experience Vietnam’s heritage. It is also listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage site. Definitely a place worth stopping by.
If you have been to Penang, Malaysia. Certain parts of Ancient Town felt a little like Georgetown but of course, that is not an apple to apple comparison. The town is lively at night making it a good spot to shop and chill. Do not really know how to put Hoi An in words so check out these photos.
Things you should know about Hoi An
Before you travel to Hoi An, here are some things you need to know about Hoi An. This would be helpful if you are planning to travel over.
There is no train station over in Hoi An- Bad news for those who are looking to get there by train as there is no train station in Hoi An. Your best alternative is to stop over at Da Nang train station and take a bus over which would cost around VND30,000. Alternatively, you can ride the motorbike over stopping at Marble Mountain which is located along the way.
To Pay or not to pay for the entrance ticket?- It is widely advertised that you need to pay the entrance ticket to enter the Ancient Town. It costs VND120,000 and it is valid for your entire stay. There is booth everywhere and officials will occasionally ask you to show them the ticket. But there is no proper control of ticket purchase and you can easily avoid it (I am not recommending you to do so, just stating a fact). Most people do not pay for it and some do pay for it. The fees are for the preservation of the ancient town.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site- Yes! Hoi An is listed under one of UNESCO World Heritage Site. This explains why there is such a huge crowd in Hoi An.
Always Bargain- The fact that Hoi An is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place gets pretty touristy which result in vendors selling things at a huge markup. Never accept the price they initiate and bargain for a lower price. You will realise how much they mark up when they start reducing the price when you show no interest.
How to Move Around
Unlike places like Saigon or Da Nang where Grab is widely used, Grab is not available in Hoi An. But you would not need it anyway. The best way to move around is definitely the bicycle. Some hostels would allow you to use it for free so do check with your hostel if they provide such facilities.
Alternatively, you can choose to walk as it gets pretty packed in the Ancient Town at night. Your bicycle will come in handy when you are travelling to places which are located some distance away such as the beach. Located approximately 4.8km away from the town.
Things to do
Try out the world best banh mi
Before I go on, this is not literally the best banh mi in Vietnam. Just the best as Anthony Bourdain’s proclaimed that this is the best sandwich he ever had. You can watch more here. Be prepared though as there will be a long queue. I went for it and I got to admit, it is amazing.
Firstly, the pricing is transparent so you would not be scammed like how normal vendors on the street does. Secondly, all, the banh mi is packed with fillings (lots of meat, vege and etc.). After trying out that Banh Mi, it made other Banh Mi’s stalls not value for money. If you happen to be there, go try this out.
Shop Name: Banh Mi Phuong
Explore Hoi An Ancient Town
Probably the main highlight of your entire trip. Hoi An Ancient Town is the centre of attraction here in Hoi An. Here are some of the things you can do while you explore the town.
Take photos at the town- The town has the heritage vibe and it is definitely a must to take a few shots of the place. Lanterns will be light up at night making the entire town amazingly beautiful.
Cycle or walk around- The town has plenty to offer both during the day and night. It would be nice to explore the place at both occasions. During night time, you should head over to the night market for some street food. But be sure to bargain as the price tend to be a slight mark up.
Releasing candle light into the river- According to people there, releasing the candle light to the river is a symbol of good luck. You will see lots of local and foreign tourists doing so.
Cruising along the river- While you walk down the ancient town towards the night market, you will see a number of vendors approaching you to go for a boat ride.
Cafe hopping– There are lots of cafes in the town itself. You can hop from cafes to cafes for a quick rest after a long walk. Here is something you should know. Most of the shops and restaurants here do not have air conditioning. If you are looking for one, the closest you can get is Highlands Coffee (my favourite spot to chill)
Cycle to An Bang Beach
There is a beach located approximately 4.8km away from Ancient Town. You can choose to cycle there but you need to pay for bicycle parking. The beach gets very populated during the evening. While you cycle your way over to the beach, you will notice lots of tourists cycling along as well and that is a sign that you are in the right direction.
Places to Stay
Depending on your budget and travel style, there are lots of places you can stay in. The nearer your hostel to the town, the pricier it gets. But the further away your hostel is from the town, it gets very inconvenient to get to town which happens to be the centre of attraction. I stayed at Hoi An Villa (budget hostel) while I was there and I would definitely recommend it.
- How to get free accommodation when you travel
- How to meet people when you travel
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