HOI AN'S ACIENT TOWN
This quaint town on the coast in the middle of Vietnam was an important trading post from the 16th to the 18th century, and has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features narrow streets, Chinese pagoda, Japanese bridge, and lots and lots of lanterns. Its location is excellent for those interested in both relaxing at the beach and doing some sightseeing, as it is a good base to go and see Myson, go snorkelling, and visit Hue.
Since we stayed here several days we decided to stay in a nicer hotel, so we booked Venus Hotel and Spa. The room was app. $66 per night, breakfast included. This was the place where we finally did our laundry and became clean again ($2 per 1 kg). We loved it here, the hotel and the town its self were both charming.
To see some of the most important buildings in Hoi An (and at times just to enter and walk the main street) you need to buy a ticket for app. $6 per person which you will have to show when asked. We mostly came here at night and enjoyed excellent food, walking among the lit lanterns, and releasing floating water lanterns. When coming back from My Son we took a boat tour that dropped us off at the center of Hoi An, and arriving here by boat, at dusk when the street lamps and lanterns are slowly being lit is a memorable experience.
One day we did our own walking tour of the city and loved it. The famous Japanese Covered Bridge is more famous than big, and we wondered for a long time what was the big deal with this gift from the Japanese trading community, until we realized it connected them with the Chinese trading community. We saw several houses that nicely depict the way of life of Vietnamese families of Hoi An.
While in Hoi An, you should definitely take a bicycle, through the city and the rice fields, to the beach. This is an interesting experience, it takes you a while to relax with all the scooters, cars, and buses honking at you, but eventually you find your grove and start enjoying it. The beach is absolutely amazing, with clear, cool water that brings you back to life after that horrible heat and humidity.
One of the most amusing tours we took in Hoi An was the Street Food Tour. This is a great walking tour that lets you discover food and tastes that you would never dare try on your own. Our favorites include Xi Ma - a warm, sweet soup made from black sesame, raw sugar and other secret Chinese Medicine ingredients, Hoi An White Rose, and various bean paste type of desserts.