Recommendations in Hoi An, Vietnam

Why I became Interested in Travel as a Child
May 25, 2012
What $1.25 gets you in Vietnam
June 6, 2012

Recommendations in Hoi An, Vietnam

The streets of Old Hoi An

Trying hard not to dismiss Hoi An

This has been a recurring theme in my travel. Show up in a historic town that the guidebooks describe as lovely and charming, only to find that it’s filled with tourists and touts and nearly all the local life has been squeezed out of the historic core in favor of shops, cafés, and tour agencies serving foreigners.

 

It happened in Lijiang, China and it’s on the verge of happening in one of my favorite places: Melacca, Malaysia. I was about to dismiss Hoi An the same way…and then I started slowly discovering the subtle charm of the town.

 

It is packed with tourists, no doubt. And the old town center is one tailor’s shop after another. But as I rode my bike farther out of the center, I began to find where the local crowd hang out. The coffee shops, TV bars, and simple eateries—each offering its specialty. Chicken rice, snails, cao lau, chicken soup, or Pho—pull up little plastic chair and dig in.

 

Eating

Eating in Hoi An is supposedly cheaper and better than most places in Vietnam. But it’s still a challenge to find a local café that will quote you decent prices. But we enjoyed snails, chicken and rice, and lots of cao lau, the local noddle and pork specialty. One particular recommendation is Sun Shine café run by a woman named Hoi. It’s a traveler’s restaurant located out front of her house offering lots of delicious local specialties (and more) for very reasonable prices. A fantastic local chicken rice place is located north of town on Ly Thuong at the intersection of Ngo Gia Tu.

Cau Lau

 

Tailors

It seems every visitor to Hoi An is going to a tailor to get a custom-made dress, suit, or shirt. And with good reason—tailors are skilled, prices are cheap, and it’s fun. There’s no shortage of tailors either—over 400 at last count. I got a shirt made for $14 US and my travel partner got two dresses made that ran from $20-25. Although there are plenty of good tailors out there, we had success with Ants Silk at 72 Ba Trieu Street.

Juno at Ants Silk

Coffee

Going out for coffee was a daily routine for me in Vietnam. Be it at a street stall or café, hot or iced with condensed milk, I didn’t miss my Vietnamese coffee. My favorite place to go for coffee in Hoi An, was along the river. All the seats are open-air, under cover with a view of the tranquil palm-fringed river. A coffee is only 10,000 dong ($.50) and the wait staff was honest. It’s called Café 139 located predictably at 139 Nguyen Duy Hieu, about 2 km east of town on the way to the Cua Dai beach. Hop on a bike and take a break before the beach.

coffee at Cafe 139 (2)

Staying

There are a plethora of places to stay in Hoi An, many at reasonable prices. We stayed at Cam Chau Homestay, which is a collection of families that offer rooms for travelers in their homes. They are located to the east of town about 2 km and south in the neighborhood across the stream. A room is priced at about $20 for a double and includes breakfast. Our family had a ‘stay three nights and get one free diner’ policy. The family was friendly, the food was great, and I even got to observe their offering for the full moon.

full moon offering at home in Hoi An

The Beach

Hoi An is also close to the beach. Our homestay offered bicycles, so we only had to pedal a very pleasant 20 minutes down the road to Cua Dai beach—a long section of sandy beach with good swimming. Alternatively there is An Bang beach 4 km north of town which supposedly is even nicer.

Juno on the Beach

 

You could probably linger in Hoi An for a few weeks or even work there remotely if you are a digital nomad. Although if you’re on a whirlwind trip through the length of Vietnam, 2 or 3 days should make you happy.

What are your thoughts about Hoi An? Spoiled by tourism or still charming? 

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 15 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Google +, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

4 Comments

  1. Noel says:

    I like Hoi An too. It’s a nice size town with nice friendly people (when you get out of the touristy area). Like you, I enjoyed the afternoon coffee by the river, just so peaceful. And thanks for the link 🙂

  2. Mike B. says:

    Would love to get something tailor made. Your experience seems much better (less hectic) than what I experienced in Hong Kong trying to get a suit made. I gave up in HK.

  3. […] fading architecture and facade colors are one of the charms of Hoi An, Vietnam. There are far too many foreigners in this little town, but somehow it remains a nice place to […]

  4. Kim says:

    Hello both you guys,

    iam Kim at ANTS SILK HANDMADE AND TAILORING in Hoi An where you guys ever came to my clothes and also a dress at picture on website of you.

    iam so happy to read your review here, it looklike my job go ahead with a value worth by customer.

    i just have onething i wish both you guys can help me that our store ANTS SILK already moved to the other address a the moment is:

    525 Hai Ba Trung St, Hoi An,

    extra information: my phone: 084 8938 750 243
    email: antssilk@gmail.com
    website is not changed address but at the moment is 525 hai ba trung. Can you change again on your review?

    i really appreciate this.

    Best regards,

    Kim

    ANTS SILK

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