Hoi An is a small city along the coast in central Vietnam. The ancient city center served as an important trading port from the 15th-19th centuries and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. French and Japanese influences are rich, evident in the food, the beautiful mustard yellow buildings and the ancient sites. For such a small place to visit, there is really SO much to do here. We were so content walking or riding our bikes around the perfectly preserved old town with it’s French architecture, the classical music that plays through the street lights with shops and markets and food stalls filled our eyes and stomachs with delight. At night the city is absolutely magical, the river illuminated by the light of hundreds of colorful lanterns.
Our hotel in Hoi An was absolutely amazing! We felt like we were on our honeymoon all over again. The room was white, clean and modern with the coziest, most comfortable bed of the entire trip. The grounds were lush and tropical and they had a collection of bikes you could borrow to ride into town and around the nearby beach and countryside. And then there was the breakfast. SIGH. We lived for breakfast every morning. The night before we’d make our selections for the next morning — fresh squeezed juices, tropical fruits, eggs, hot baguettes, banana and chocolate crepes and a selection of Vietnamese noodle dishes. It was all divine. This is where we first tried Cao Lau, a traditional Hoi An dish of thick rice noodles, marinated pork, fresh greens and crunchy croutons. OH MY GEE. It is SO GOOD. Cao lau plus banana crepes plus fresh squeezed passion fruit juice makes for the most perfect breakfast ever. Take me back!
Hoi An is well known for it’s thousands of tailors who can whip up a perfect fitting suit or dress in under 24 hours. I’ll write another post all about our experience getting clothes made but for now let me say this..spending a part of every day with the girls at the tailor shop was one of my highlights of staying in Hoi An. We ended up not only with 3 dresses, one skirt, one shirt and a perfectly fitting suit for under $300, but with a lot of great memories of fabric searching, fittings and giggles with local girls. Such a treat.
And can we just talk a bit about the food in Hoi An. While we could have survived on all of the amazing meals our hotels was offering, we would have missed out on the other amazing food options this city is famous for. We fell in love with Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) at Tiệm Bánh Mi Phương which was featured on “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain. Their bbq pork sandwich filled to the brim with veggies was so ridiculously amazing that I insisted we return the next day for lunch and eat it all over again, which is hard to refuse at $1 a sandwich. We also loved Bale Well, a small local eatery in an alley where they bring out a large selection of things — spring rolls, pork satay, veggies, egg, rice paper — and then teach you how roll it all into a sauce-dipping wad of yum. So so good. For J’s birthday we decided to splurge on a nicer dinner at Morning Glory, an established restaurant that is also known for it’s outstanding cooking classes with their head chef and owner, Ms Vy. We dined on everything from green papaya salad, braised ribs, spring rolls and more. Yum.
Hoi An was the perfect place to celebrate J’s birthday! It was great for him to not have to compete with Thanksgiving for once. There were no turkeys anywhere! Instead, our sweet hotel gifted him with a birthday cake and bouquet of roses and orchids at breakfast on his birthday. The ladies even sang to him! Seriously. our hotel could not have been better.
There are SO many more stories to tell but you’ll just have to ask me to get the full story…
– our cheap and kind of strange side-by-side massage
– my sketchy $1 pedicure in a back alley
– how I blew a tire on my bicycle and had to ride on the back of a scooter with the bike IN MY LAP all the way to the hotel
I’m sorry that there are so many photos, but it felt impossible to whittle this down to any less! And again, most of these gorgeous photos were taken by my husband who just happens to be a professional commercial photography. You can check out more of his work here.
Stayed at: East West Villas STAY HERE! We couldn’t recommend it more.
Ate at: Tiem Banh Mi Phurong, Bale Well, Morning Glory
Craziest Site: Tons of Communist posters and families of 4-6 on one scooter
Read more about our trip!
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