HCMC Dining Guide

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Revisiting Hoi An (again)

Last week I went up to Central Vietnam with two friends, Thinh and Jacqui, and we spent three nights in Hoi An. It was my third time visiting the town, but neither of my friends had never been, and I've always enjoyed that part of the country. I've covered Hoi An in previous posts so I'll just go over the basics: the Old Town is as beautiful as ever, but it has definitely gotten more crowded. There are more hotels, more people, more restaurants, and more shops catering to visitors than the last time I was there a couple of years ago. You also have to pay VND120,000 ($6) to enter the Old Town; the result of a controversial measure passed earlier this year. They haven't quite gotten the ticketing system down though - you only have to pay once during your stay, and every time we walked past a ticket booth afterwards, the attendants just asked if we had tickets instead of actually checking. I guess they trust visitors?

As always there was a ton of great food to be eaten; but one of the saddest moments was when I brought Thinh and Jacqui to a hole-in-the-wall place I discovered on my first trip to Hoi An in 2011. They had served amazing food, but this time I had trouble finding it, even though I remembered the street. I finally realized it had been converted into just another shop selling cliche t-shirts and useless touristy crap. Surely at some point Hoi An is going to be over-saturated with stores offering the exact same shit? Below is one of the best (and cheapest) things we had - grilled pork skewers that you wrapped in rice paper with veggies and peanut sauce. We crushed this place twice.
A highlight of our time in Hoi An was the day we went to the beach. We rented bicycles and pedaled the 6km to the main beach, but it looked a bit crowded so we turned right and headed down the coast road, hoping to find something quieter. We ended up at a dock, not exactly an ideal place to swim. Dejected, we turned around to head back to the main beach. A local spotted us, made a swimming motion, and then pointed down a dirt path next to an abandoned resort. We rode a couple hundred feet and then came upon perfection: a completely deserted beach. There wasn't a soul in sight, the water was clear, and there was a huge sandbar out in the water. The sun was shining, there was a lovely breeze, and we suddenly had our own private beach.

A great afternoon was had by all, with the low point coming when I badly sprained my left ankle after caving to peer pressure and cannonballing from the sand bar into the water.

The following day we motorbiked out to the My Son ruins, which sit in the countryside about an hour outside Hoi An. I've been there before as well, but it's a beautiful drive, and I always enjoy visiting historical sites. Read the second half of this for more on the ruins. Unsurprisingly, they hadn't changed since I was last there, although I had forgotten how many overgrown bomb craters litter the area. (It was bombed heavily by the American military during the war.)

The scenery between Hoi An and My Son is gorgeous:
As was this sunrise Thinh and I woke up early one day to watch:
After a thoroughly enjoyable several days in Hoi An we took a taxi to Da Nang, where we rented motos and headed north for the Hai Van Pass.


  1. Hey Mike, how are the prices in Hoi An?

    1. Hotels are more expensive than elsewhere in Vietnam, but street food is just as cheap as in Hanoi or Saigon.