1. Relaxing on the beach
When you drive from Da Nang airport to Hoi An, you will notice the huge hotel chains are being built along the coast. Luckily everything is still under construction and it will take some time before the first tourists will stay in these hotels. Don’t blame the hotels. Hoi An is a lovely place with a beach, beautiful surroundings, and a magical center. Hoi An has a long coastline with many small beach clubs. Grab a bike and go to An Bang Beach.
Park your bike all day for about 10.000-30.000 dong (€0,40-€1,15) at the many parking spots. The ‘guards’ will keep an eye on your bike and you will have to pay on departure. Some restaurants have their own parking lot. Often you have to buy a drink or some food in exchange for free parking on your bike. The same goes for a seat on the beach. This is free when you order cocktails or food at the restaurant. Don’t expect white beaches and clear blue water, yet it’s nice to get a breath of fresh air. ‘Shore Club’ has its own swimming pool which you can use free of charge. The food here, especially the sushi, is very good and they have nice lounge sofas where you can hang out all day.
2. Cycling through the rice fields
Most hotels rent bikes to their guests for free. We booked via booking.com a homestay at ‘La Belle Anbang Homestay’. Unfortunately, there are no bikes available here and it is also not possible to rent a bike from a hotel. Ask the host of the homestay if she can arrange bicycles for you. We paid 35,000 dong per day, less than €1.50! And then you can start exploring. When you cycle in the direction of the old center, you’ll soon come across the green landscapes. Take a path and let yourself be guided through the narrow road between the rice fields and herb gardens. This gives you a nice insight into life in the countryside. You will certainly encounter the immense water buffalos here. Some are underwater with their whole bodies and graze through the fields. Also, baby buffalos are working and eating themselves. You can also choose to book a guided bike tour. But being on the road yourself is just as much fun and who knows you might get in touch with one of the local fishermen.
3. Shopping in Old Town Hoi An
One of my favorite hobbies is shopping. As Hoi An has more than hundreds of shops, you can imagine I was the happiest girl in the city. It’s just as well that there are hundreds of shops in Hoi An. During the day there are not that many tourists and you can stroll around the many tailors and local shops. In the evening the lanterns go on and it gets crowded. Hoi An is known for its tailor-made fashion shops. We looked at it a few times but finally decided not to do it. When entering a shop the ladies will immediately approach you with the question of what you are looking for. You don’t get the time to take a look on your own. Before you know it you have five different kinds of fabrics around you and you’re just not holding your credit card yet.
Our host told us that we had to be very careful which clothes maker we wanted to buy something from. A lot of shops don’t offer good quality fabrics, so when you’re at home and you’re going to wash, your dress may not look the same anymore. Well, that’s not what we want! Of course, there are also stores with good reviews that offer good quality clothing, including ‘Bebe’ and ‘Thuong’. But you soon get the idea that it’s all about selling as many clothes as possible. The models are standard and they only have a certain selection in colors and fabrics. I ended up buying a dress at ‘Sunday in Hoi An’ a small cute little shop that sells home furnishings and different kinds of dresses. The employees are very friendly and will give you all the time you need. For €50 I bought a nice long dress made of good quality fabric
4. Take a cooking class
If you have time in Hoi An and the weather is bad, consider taking a cooking class. A lot of restaurants offer this. You can also take a bike ride through the rice fields at a local restaurant and ask about the possibilities. Often there is a sign in the garden and you can sneak into the kitchen. An open kitchen where you look out over the vegetable garden where you just picked your own vegetables. Café 43 has very good reviews where you prepare three Vietnamese dishes.
5. Eat, eat, eat
In the center of Hoi An, you find restaurants everywhere you look. Coffee, breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, dessert, cocktails everywhere you’re looking for can be found here. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to find a restaurant to your liking. Research helps, for example, Tripadvisor. We decided one evening just to eat somewhere where it looked nice, which resulted in bad service and bad food. Here are the top 5 of our favorite restaurants and cafes: