I am always hesitant to say that something is “perfect” but in all honesty my trip to Hội An really was perfect – to me at least. It was so amazing that I ended up driving back to Hội An from my hotel in Đà Nẵng to spend an extra day there. After living and working in Hồ Chí Minh for almost 4 months, it was nice to get a break from the big city. Hội An is a dream – it’s peaceful, beautiful, and the most charming town I have ever stepped foot in. Here are some of the things I did on my trip to Hội An:
Got clothes custom made
Other than Hội An’s beautiful lantern display, the thing I heard most about was getting clothes custom made here. I went to the Hội An Cloth Market where I was recommended to go to Sewing Bee – and I was not disappointed! The ladies who work there are so sweet and helpful. I got a jumpsuit and wrap dress for only 1.500.000 VND (~$64 USD), which is a great deal. The clothes turned out terrific and only took two days to make. Here are pictures of what I had done:
Tin Basket Boat Tour
You can do big group basket boat tours, but my friend and I decided to go through a small tour company owned by the cutest couple. Tin and her husband picked us up from our hostel and drove us to where we’d board the basket boat. We got a private tour led by Tin’s brother and he was amazing. He was so sweet and always stopped to let us take pictures. He made cool coconut palm leaf jewelry and had me get out to join a fisherman in throwing a fishing net. Afterwards, he served us fresh watermelon while Tin called us a taxi back. It was very cheap, costing only 189.000 VND per person (~$8 USD). Here is their website if you want to book a tour with them:
Free Bike Tour of Kim Bong Carpentry Village
If you are on a budget (and even if you aren’t) this is definitely a must-do! Our tour guide, My, was amazing and incredibly patient. I haven’t been on a bike in years so it took me a while to get the hang of things .. Meaning I finally learned how to ride a bike again by the end of the tour, oops. Our group was small and intimate: just My, her trainee, a guy from the Netherlands, my friend and I. Since the tour is run by volunteers looking to practice their English, it was “free.” I only put quotations around free because the tour itself doesn’t cost anything, but I still spent 80.000 VND (which is still super cheap and honestly it’s worth more). 30.000 VND goes as a donation to the people of Kim Bong Village, 20.000 VND for the ferry ride over, and 30.000 VND for bike rentals (only if you don’t have your own bike). This comes up to roughly $3.40 USD – so nothing. Throughout the morning, we biked around the island, watched the process of making a boat, and were taught how to make rice noodles and sleeping mats. We also took a visit to a local temple and handmade crafts shop. My and her trainee sat us down for a chat and snacks during the tour, then took us for coffee afterwards. Here is their website if you want to book with them:
Took a cooking class
Okay, if there is anything I’m worse at than riding a bicycle, it’s cooking. Nonetheless, I took a private Vietnamese vegan cooking class through Karma Waters. I learned how to make three Vietnamese vegan dishes: summer rolls, phở chay, and mushrooms & tofu with red rice. It was one of the more expensive things I did on my trip, costing 960.000 VND (~$40 USD). The woman instructing me throughout the cooking class did not speak English, so they hired a translator named Trang. The cooking class itself was great, but meeting a new local friend that I got to sit and chat with for over two hours was the best part.
Hội An Night Market / Old Town
The Night Market has a ton of kiosks you can buy things at for a relatively good price. I normally don’t like going to markets like this, as the shop owners are typically pushy and it gets overcrowded, but I really did love Hội An’s Night Market. It wasn’t too packed (at least the day that I went) and the shop owners were very sweet. Most of them loved chatting with me when they found out I could speak a little bit of Vietnamese and one even tried to set me up with his son (sorry to break it to y’all, but I had to turn down the offer). I thought haggling wouldn’t work since the prices were already pretty low, but the shop owners always compromised so I bought everything dirt cheap.
As for Old Town, it’s open all day. There are many shops, restaurants, and bars throughout the town. We got to go on a small boat ride along the river to release our own lanterns and enjoy the stunning lights of Hội An. The Japanese Covered Bridge is also located in the midst of Old Town, but pro tip – when we went at night, they stopped charging a fee to walk across the bridge.
Where I stayed:
My friend and I stayed at Vietnam Backpacker Hostels – Hội An and really enjoyed our time there. It has very clean and modern facilities, a great view, and friendly staff.
Pro Tip #2:
The only downside I could think of from my entire trip to Hoi An was the fact that it was hard to book a Grab if you weren’t going far. I mainly walked, got a taxi, or waited a good chunk of time for a Grab. I highly suggest renting a bicycle or motorbike if you come! Nonetheless, it was only a minor inconvenience and I didn’t mind another excuse to explore this magnificent town by walking a bit.
If you have any questions about my trip to Hội An or life in Vietnam, please feel free to contact me!
Until next time,