Hong Kong’s budget carrier had a sale as they always do on a daily basis: Da Nang/ Hoi An for $800HKD ($100USD), so naturally having not been to Hoi An which is a Unesco Heritage city, I bought tickets and off we went for a nice, quiet and relaxing sightseeing weekend (a very big contrast to our normal getaways which is generally physically exhausting).
Hoi An is a nice quiet town that is well known for its Old City. Here is an exerpt from WikiTravel regarding Hoi An: “Hoi An, once known as Faifo, with more than 2,000 years history, was the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, which controlled the strategic spice trade with Indonesia from the 7th to the 10th century and was a major international port in the 16th and 17th centuries – and the foreign influences are discernible to this day. ”
The old city is pretty but it is extremely touristy and every store is either for food, tailors or trinkets. We wandered around, took photos, got a massage, ate, drank some beer and Vietnamese coffee.
The one thing I found displeasure in Hoi An was accessing the Old Town. To see the Chinese homes, museums and cross the Japanese bridge in the Old Town, you need to buy an old city pass for about 120,000 VND (~40HKD); however we found there is very suggestive signs around the city telling tourists they should pay to see the Old City and there were some over zealous workers who would block your access to the Old Town if you didn’t have a ticket. The hotel receptionist told us the entrance into the Old City is free (or maybe no one really knows the rules) so we avoided paying the tickets as we didn’t want to see the chinese temples, but there is defintely confusion about the rules.
At night we checked out the night market which sold more trinkets and laterns, which Hoi An is famous for. Honestly, it was so touristy , and sellers literally begging you for boat rides, hustling everywhere, but kind of pretty.
The next morning we woke up early to bike to The beach in Hoi An so we could return and shower before check out. Most tourists head to Ah Bang beach, which I read on Tripadvisors as a beach that was full of hustlers and they even forced you to pay to park your bikes. Instead we went to Hidden Beach which our hotel recommended and found it deserted and full of fishermen in their cute round bamboo boats. The beach is nice but quite wavy. We left after a coconut drink as we didn’t want to suntan and it was getting incredibly sunny and hot.
After check out we had lunch at a delicious Bahn Mi place recommended by Anthony Bordain. It was delicious and we decided to grab another Bahn Mi to go for our plane ride home.
So that ended our short trip to Hoi An. My impressions of it? It was OK for a weekend and not more. We mainly came for the delicious Vietnamese food which did not disappoint and we found it to be safer and friendlier than Ho Chi Minh. But honestly, it was really touristy and wasn’t all that much to do unless you joined a tour to the ancient city nearby, or do a cooking class. All in all, a nice, relaxing weekend getaway but probably won’t be back to Hoi An in a hurry.