It was a beautiful sunny day when we left for Hoi An, and when we returned to Danang it was scorchingly hot outside and the sky was the bluest ever, too. It rained most of the time when we stayed in Hoi An though, lol. But well, under the sun or in the rain, Hoi An was still so charming that I wish we could have stayed there for a week or more.
Museums and old houses
Hoi An has been a longtime trading port in the Southeast Asia in the 15th-19th centuries, during which a lot of Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, etc. arrived for business and eventually lived there. The blend of cultural influences leaves a legacy in the city’s architecture as well as in its distinctive cuisine.
An entrance ticket is required and you get to choose five in a list of 21 historic places including museums, old houses, assembly halls, and traditional arts performance. I’ve read some tourists’ complaints about having to buy a ticket, but I guess they were mistaken, the ticket is for FIVE places, not just one.
Biking around the Old Town
Even though you can easily explore the Old Town of Hoi An on foot, since almost everything is in walking distance, biking through the town can be fun as well. Biking in the rain is even more romantic, lol. My Dutchie probably didn’t even consider it an “experience” (well, you know, bikes, and especially, RAIN, not that unfamiliar to him, haha), but I loved it so much! At least until the rain started pouring down and the roads got flooded so quickly…
Hmm, I guess walking and sharing one umbrella is romantic, too.
Thankfully, the weather became a little better the next day, which allowed us to get a better feel of the town during the day.
This photo was taken after we headed further to Trà Quế vegetable village, pedaled through all the rice paddies in the gentle morning breeze, as peaceful as ever. John giggled with excitement “That man is sleeping on the back of a cow, haha”. Well, that was actually a buffalo…
The atmosphere of Hoi An by night
This is Hoi An by night. The colorful lanterns strewn in every corner of the whole town. The magical serenity when chilling out on the balcony of a colonial-styled house of a restaurant. The elegant decor of the shops no matter what they offer. And the exquisite feeling you get strolling along the streets and soaking in the charming ambiance.
The food, oh the food
I absolutely adore Hoi An cuisine! Seriously, what a shame if you come to Hoi An without trying all these delicacies.
What a bizarre name for such a heavenly dish! Look how gorgeous it is!
About the origin of the name, according to http://www.thanhniennews.com, the most vivid story is about “the rice being served at ‘Hell Restaurant’ in Hue more than 80 years ago. The eatery was situated in a large field and opened only at night. The simple place had just oil lamps to dispel the pitch dark, the wind blew from all sides, causing an eerie, somber atmosphere.”
Here we go, the most well-known dish of Hoi An. Rice cooked with chicken stock, served with shredded chicken mixed with onions, Vietnamese coriander and spices. We had chicken rice at a place recommended by a local, and since it’s by no means a fancy restaurant, as you can see in the photo, it wasn’t a myriad of colors, but ohhhh the flavor was irresistible. It was also the only dish we’ve eaten twice during our entire trip. The first time, we had chicken rice plus chicken salad (chicken mixed with green mango strips, onions, corianders, lime, and a lot of spices). When we returned, I ordered chicken rice with chicken feet salad, and John still couldn’t overcome his prejudice about chicken feet to try, haha. The place only opens from late afternoon until around 8pm, and it’s always packed with locals.
Getting custom tailored clothes
Hoi An is known for dozens and dozens of custom made clothing shops, where you can get a suit or a dress or any piece of garment within 24 hours, for only a fraction of the cost of branded ones.
The tailor shop we chose is probably one of the biggest in Hoi An, and they were so fast and professional. John seems very happy with his new suit, so they must have done a good job as well. Or maybe because he was complimented on his “very big bum” by a bubbly girl named Ny (the one helping him choose the right fabric for his suit in the photo above), lol. I still laugh my head off whenever thinking about how confused my boyfriend looked when she just smacked his butt in front of everyone (in a very lovely way haha) and jokingly complimented “What a BIGGG butt!” during the fittings. “I think she slapped my butt three times”. LOL. Sorry babe! 😘 😆