Hoi An Ancient Town, lovingly referred to as the town of lanterns, and for a good reason. The town is nothing short of magical, and wonderfully caters to increasing tourism demand while still maintaining their traditional aspects and heritage. The once bustling port town has strong Chinese, Japanese, and French architectural designs including shophouses, temples, covered bridge, and pagodas, and colonials due to the french invasion. The town has numerous canals running through it which make for a tranquil, relaxed setting.
We booked our stay at the Belle Maison Hadana and it was absolutely perfect. The hotel was beautiful, had a full-service front desk, restaurant, gym, business areas, pool, and amazing buffet every morning, all for about $65US a night! The lobby featured a beautiful Koi pond and was decorated with more glowing, red lanterns. A perfect setting to come back to after exploring the ancient town.
Unfortunately, during this part of our trip, Joe and I had come down with some pretty bad sinus infections, most likely from the plane ride, and weren’t feeling too hot while we were exploring the ancient town. We managed to find a lady selling ice cold waters so we grabbed a couple bottles, sat under a tree for some shade, and people watched for awhile. Finally, by our third day in Hoi An, we were feeling good enough to get out and explore the ancient town little more. Some spots to check out:
- Japanese covered bridge
- Old Houses
- Assembly Hall
- Banh Mi Phuong
One of the highlights of our time in Hoi An was the visit to Banh Mi Phuong, in order to try the legendary banh mi that were so highly praised by Anthony Bourdain (RIP). It a small, family run shop that turns out tons, and I mean TONS of banh mi; and boy are they tasty! If you’ve got a second to give them a try, don’t miss the opportunity.
Aside from the Ancient Town in Hoi An, you can venture North about 20 minutes towards Da Nang and explore through the Marble Mountains. The Marble Mountains consist of 5 marble and limestone hills that have a network of caverns within them. They’re named after the 5 elements (at least, in this part of the world): Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire), Tho (earth). Thuy is the only one accessible to tourists but it offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area at its summit, which requires you to climb 156 steps to see it. The various grottos are decorated with intricately carved Buddhist and Hindu figures, lots of candles, and burning incense. Side note: exploring those caves was one of the hottest (temperature) things I’ve ever done, BRING WATER!
After a few days exploring around Hoi An and the surrounding areas, we packed our bags again, took off to the Da Nang Airport, hopped on a plane and took off to Hanoi. It was time to check off another UNESCO World Heritage Site: Ha Long Bay.