For many visitors, Hoi An really is the ‘Jewel of Vietnam’. Our guests rarely pass up the opportunity to wander through its ancient streets, enjoying the country’s finest cuisine. They may visit the famous (and unbelievably cheap!) tailors, or just kick back for some well-earned R&R on nearby Cau Dai beach.
Hoi An’s town centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protecting its unique Chinese, Japanese and European influenced architecture for future generations. Motorised traffic is banned for several days a week on its narrow streets. As darkness falls, all electricity is switched off. The town begins to glow, illuminated by hundreds of beautiful traditional silk lanterns.
Incredible cuisine is a significant highlight of any visit to Vietnam, and this is especially true in Hoi An. Most Vietnamese people agree that Hoi An is the home of Vietnam’s finest food, and the town isn’t shy about this accolade. You can eat well here on almost any budget.
Many of the most atmospheric restaurants line Hoi An’s harbour front, where you can admire the traditional fishing boats over a plate of delicious fresh dumplings. There are several ‘must eat’ local dishes, such as Cau Lau, a noodle soup that can only be made with water drawn from the local well.
Hoi An’s market is a hive of activity on any day of the week. It’s interesting and vivid enough to revisit day after day, never tiring of its colourful sights and sounds.
We say: ‘Hoi An is a truly remarkable destination, combing culture with beach and relaxation. We love to cycle the maze of quiet lanes that run between the old town and Cua Dai beach. You may get lost, but you can be sure a friendly farm hand will point you in the right direction… if your Vietnamese isn’t up to asking, just try sign language!’
Hoi An: Highlights
Cau Dai Beach
Just 5km’s from the Hoi An Old Town, Cua Dai beach is deserted by most other Asian countries standards and you can walk for miles in either direction stumbling over little other than the odd small fishing village. There are a very limited number of hotels and resorts on the beach ensuring this tranquility is likely to remain for sometime. Further north, as you drive towards Danang, you will see far more development.
China Beach and Marble Mountain
As you drive towards Danang, you will find China beach, the famous base for American GI’s on R&R during less peaceful times. Close by is ‘marble mountain’, containing dozens of buddha shrines that you can explore whilst climbing to the peak to enjoy a magical view across this former Champa kingdom (co-incidentally, also a popular spot for Viet Cong during the American-Vietnamese war as it provided excellent cover whilst shooting down American war planes).
Just an hours drive from Hoi An you will find the often overlooked archaeological site of My Son. Home to incredible, eerie ‘tower temples’ covered in jungle creepers. In a lush green valley you’ll get to explore the dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries.
The Hai Van Pass
The drive between Hoi An and Hue is one of the finest in Vietnam and fans of the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ may already be familiar with it (think three men-children on motorbikes, one with a model Spanish galleon strapped to the back, driving down a meandering mountain road towards one of the most picturesque fishing villages on the planet).
The Hai Van, or Ocean Cloud, Pass winds its way over the top of the Truong Mountain Range, dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co on the Hue side. The road to Hue then continues to keep you enthralled as you pass mile after mile of undeveloped beach, passing through villages and at times driving alongside the tracks of the famous Reunification Railway.
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