Hoi An: City of lanterns and talented tailors - Vietnam 2022
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
🛌 £20 a night
💰 £1 = 28,000 Vietnamese dong (roughly)
Hoi An, is a well-preserved ancient city in central Vietnam. This colourful town offers a wealth of culture and plenty of pretty sights. Hoi An is well known for its overnight tailors, lanterns and beaches. It's a short drive from cities Hue, Da Nang and close to Cham Island if you're looking for watersports or snorkelling.
Ps. I actually bought the dress I'm wearing in the pic above from a store at An Bang beach, Hoi An.
Hoi An YouTube Travel Vlogs
Journey to Hoi An - Rest stops
The drive to Hoi An from Hue took about 3 hours and was rather enjoyable. I travelled along the famous Hai Van Pass, a scenic mountain road and passing through popular Da Nang, home to beautiful beaches.
One of the rest stops was Lăng Cô in Phú Lộc, a rural town near a body of water, known for its seafood. A plethora of oysters are located in this area, so much in fact that they cost 92p for 1kg; which is considerably cheaper than most places. Unsurprisingly there was a shop selling pearls here. They had loose unrefined pearls of various types as well as some custom jewellery. I bought a few pairs of silver pearl earrings one of which I have annoying misplaced. The shop owner here was really nice and provided me (and the people I was travelling with at the time) with complimentary oysters.
I tried oysters for the first time in my life and I nearly threw up.
Oysters are not for me. Never again. Cold, slimy, disgusting. The only highlight of this shopping experience was that I managed to acquire some cheap pearl earrings.
Hotel - Phu Thinh Boutique Resort & Spa!
This was my favourite hotel stay throughout my time in Vietnam. I undoubtedly adored it! The room was enormous with a wrap-around balcony. The bathroom was stunning. It had a deep standalone bath, rainfall shower and glass wall with blind.
Facilities at this hotel included a spa, restaurant, laundry facilities, pool and more. The only negative about this place was the wifi. It was dreadful! I remember trying to watch Love Island and it simply refused to work! I had to stand out on the balcony to get my episode to download! Allegedly.
Hoi An City Centre
Funny story, on my first visit to the city centre our taxi driver said he wouldn't charge us a fare as long as we visited his wife's shop. Mid journey he called his spouse to let her know we were en route and sure enough as we pulled up his wife was there to greet us. She ushered us to some sort of indoor market establishment where we met a few lovely sellers. I ended up purchasing some bits I actually needed so it was a win win situation. I thought that was such a cute set up though, what a supportive husband.
One thing I did find though is that after 10pm it's pretty hard to find a cab on grab in Hoi An. I remember having to walk back to my hotel which felt like 100miles away wearing a dress and sandals, (wishing I wore trainers). Thank goodness I was with people at the time.
The streets in Hoi An are lined with lanterns, you'll see them everywhere. There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants in this area, many with a good view of Hoai lake. There's also an outdoor market where you can find food, jewellery, bags and more.
Hoi An Overnight Tailors
Overnight tailors attract many tourists to this city and are well talked about in the backpacker community.
You'll find masses of tailors on Hoàng Diệu road, which is within walking distance from the outdoor market and Hoai lake. Inside these shops, you'll see hundreds of fabrics stacked high from floor to ceiling. Your shop assistant will provide you with catalogues of clothing where you can select a design or customise it to your taste. After your proposed items have been sketched and you're happy, you will then be measured. The tailors in Hoi An can then have your clothing made the following day which is crazy! After a final fitting to check your garments, you're all good to go!
Prices of tailors vary but are way cheaper than in the UK. Make sure you're not swayed to pick the most expensive fabric as this will of course raise your total bill. You can literally get yourself a dress or suit made that looks like you bought it from a store.
Lantern Boat Ride
One of my favourite moments in Hoi An was doing the lantern boat tour at Hoai Lake. It was like something out of a disney film. Magical! I didn't actually book this in advance, I was walking down the road and asked a man for directions who told us his friend runs tours at the lake. As this was a spur of the moment decision I'm not sure how much this excursion actually costs, I've seen stuff advertised online for £30+. Initially the man gave us a price including beers but we haggled it down to 100,000 dong per person without refreshments.
Once onboard you sail down the waters with a swarm of other boats. You're given a paper lantern, you get to place it in the water. Sounds silly but I loved it. I'm pretty sure someone cleans the lake at the end of the night as apart from the newly released lanterns I didn't see any litter at all which is good.
An Bang Beach
An Bang beach was actually an enjoyable trip. I'm not really a beach person as I normally get quite bored but it was nice to chill for a bit after so many action-packed days.
My cab pulled up on a long road laden with shops, I could see the beach a short distance away. I immediately purchased some iced tea, which was about 20,000 dong which is 70p. It's absurd that I can pay up to £5 for similar drinks in the UK! Anyway, I had a little nose at some of the street food on offer and then went to meet my travel pals.
If you're on the hunt for souvenirs you'll find that many sellers will approach you whilst you're lounging on the beach. They're not pushy or aggressive though, if you don't want to buy anything just gently make this known. The lady I spoke to was really nice and I ended up spending like £30+ on chopsticks, keyrings and some other things I didn't even need. I don't mind spending a bit more than I normally would if the vendor is nice. You can absolutely haggle here though.
In Vietnam wearing matching clothing with others is seen as a sign of love. So you'll find couples or families often wearing matching prints. Me and my travel pals decided to purchase matching banana dresses for the fun of it at An Bang beach. There's a large clothing store close to the seafront where most items, (dresses, jumpsuits shirts etc) cost 100,000 dong which is only £3.88. They actually had some nice items here in a range of sizes so I stocked up on a few dresses.
Cooking Class and boat Ride
I did a cooking class here that included a boat ride. I'd seen pictures before of the handmade woven basket boats and always wanted to go on one. I was chuffed this was included in this excursion, it's always nice ticking something off of your bucket list. The boat ride also included crab fishing which was another first for me. It was pretty fun and we released them all back into the water.
I was feeling pretty upbeat this day, the boat ride was relaxing, I had the warmth of the sun on my back. Happy days until... a man from a random boat sailed past and decided to grab my arm. I was so angry! I don't have proof but I know why this happened!
The experience on the boat dampened my whole mood so I probably didn't enjoy the cooking class as much as I would have under normal circumstances. I had the opportunity to make a range of traditional Vietnamese delicacies including pancakes, rice milk and spring rolls. At the end the chef gave us a recipe booklet of all the dishes we made as well as a little julienne tool which I thought was cute.
Yay or Nay
This is an absolute yes! Hoi An is one of my top 3 favourite cities in Vietnam. It's a must visit and accommodating to couples, families and backpackers. The city centre just looked like how I'd imagined Vietnam looked in the past. The lanterns, the architecture, the lack of tall concrete buildings, it was nice to absorb these surroundings.
If you do ever visit Hoi An I would absolutely recommend the lantern boat tour and then grabbing a bite to eat at one of the bars overlooking the lake.
Click here to read about my time on an overnight sleeper train, from Hanoi to Hue!