We said farewell to the motorbike (at Rich’s dismay) this morning and headed back to the hotel to pack. Because we allocated more time in Saigon, we will be rushing through Vietnam’s other cities and that includes Da Nang. We drove over the Dragon Bridge one last time and headed south to the ancient city of Hoi An. We hired a driver and made the 40-minute drive in good time. The driver offered many stops along the way. We assume these were stops at restaurants and shops that give him money for bringing guests. This seems like the norm in Da Nang but we politely declined and explained we needed to be in Hoi An.
Hoi An is an UNESCO World Heritage Site known in the 15th-19th century to be an important trading post in Southeast Asia. With its rich trading history, the town is influenced by many cultures, indigenous and foreign (principally Chinese and Japanese and later European).
We walked by the beautiful Confucian Temple while seeking out the tailoring shops.
Though not as hot as the south, central Vietnam can still be pretty humid so it’s important to stay hydrated!
The chaotic sandwich shop called Bánh Mì Phượng
Anthony Bourdain made them famous and you can see a picture of him on the wrapper of the sandwiches. However, Rich and I both agree that Banh Mi Huynh Hoa in Saigon is still the best.
How fortuitous to find a bar that allows patrons to bring in their Vietnamese sandwiches. Tap House had great service and offered a happy hour deal of two beers for the price of one.
The town is known for its silk lanterns (believed to be influenced by Japanese trading merchants) which can be seen on almost every store front and along every street.
We arrived just in time for the tour buses to dump hundreds of tourists upon the town which made the streets crowded.
A breath-taking view of the lights glittering on the Hoai River from one of the bridges and the other side of the Hoi An Night Market.
Merchants offer boat rides to tourists for a fee.
Street vendors sell candle lanterns to be placed in the river.
The look on my face after stepping in mud in spite of the locals advising not to go down the banks with my candle lantern.
Central Vietnam is proving to be a lot more costly than the south (by Vietnamese standards, not American pricing) – our guess is the resort-like tourism that is being promoted. Though we despise the crowds of rude Americans, Hoi An is as picturesque as we imagined it to be and more. We understand why everyone says this old town is so romantic; it’s hard not to fall in love under glowing lights of the colorful lanterns.