Hoi An: Vietnam’s Treasure Trove

For most people who are unfamiliarwith Vietnam’s geography, Vietnam is an S-shaped country with a vertical distance spanning 1,650 kilometers and a width comprising 50 kilometers at its narrowest point.  The two most populated and developed cities, Hanoi and Saigon, rest at the top and bottom, respectively, of the country. I traveled for nearly two weeks in Vietnam, from Saigon to Hanoi and of the cities I visited, the ancient town of Hoi An is my favorite.

Tucked away in the middle of Vietnam, Hoi An is a little gem worth taking a detour to visit.

Funny how things work out in the end; during an initial planning of this Vietnam trip, my friend and I were considering cutting this part of our trip out and allocating the days spent here to lengthier stays in Saigon and Hanoi – I am glad we didn’t.

Hoi An’s narrow streets, adorned with Chinese lanterns, are filled with small restaurants, bars and boutique shops selling various merchandise from pointy straw hats to silk sleeping bags.  The “must-buy” item, however, is customized clothing from one of Hoi An’s many specialty tailors.  A friend of mine purchased a nice new suit for only USD$80!

We wandered the streets of Hoi An by foot and bicycle (rental was complementary at the guesthouse we stayed at). Everything we needed was located within walking distance and highly accessible. The next day we walked pass a motorbike rental shop and decided to cruise along the outskirts of town on a scooter.  The only “map” we carried consisted of selective streets drawn on the back of our hotel’s business card. We drove off-map, east bound, and stumbled across a nice quite beach, called Cua Dai.

In the evening, we visited the local bars in town. We were immediately drawn to the friendly hosts, greeting us warmly as we walked by. Once we were seated, they stuck around to chat with us despite obvious language barriers. Leaving this town for our next destination proved to be emotionally difficult – Our visit to Hoi An was a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Saigon and Hanoi.

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