Hoi An is a little trickier to get to as it’s not on the railway line, but definitely worth checking out for a few days. We took an overnight train (we did that a lot in Vietnam) from Nha Trang to Da Nang and arranged a pick-up through our guesthouse. It’s about an hour-long drive to Hoi An.
Our guesthouse was in a great location – the mid-point between the city centre and the beach and so we were able to walk or bike to both.
When we first walked to the city centre of Hoi An we were surprised to see that some people, including us, were asked to pay “admission,” whereas other tourists weren’t. The admission included five entrances to “special” houses that have been turned into museums within the centre, but we had to pay even though we just wanted to walk around the streets. This experience has left us with a bitter taste of Hoi An, which is otherwise a very lovely city. Not because we don’t like to support a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but because it seemed “scammy” to enforce payment from some and not all. And it felt like we were entering an amusement park instead of an historic downtown.
The city sits right on the river and on the other side is a small island with its sister city, An Hoi. So clever with their names. 😉 The city centre consists of coloufully decorated streets and alleyways with heritage buildings. The city itself has been known for high-quality tailor-made clothes, but in recent years hundreds of tailor shops have sprung up really diluting the quality. Now you can’t walk down the street without being approached by countless tailors (or “friends” of tailors) seeking your business. There are still legitimate, highly skilled tailors there, but you’ll need a reliable source to help you find them.
Night time is quite beautiful in Hoi An. The downtown is lit up with colourful lanterns. There are also floating candles set adrift in the river. This has also become super touristy (a common theme in Hoi An), but it still makes for a very pleasant evening atmosphere.
Don’t leave Hoi An without trying the fried wontons! In terms of food, central Vietnam was our favourite region. Hoi An has a number of great local specialties, and the fried wontons were our favourite. They’re great as a snack or as a meal…or just whenever you feel like it. 🙂