This morning we woke up early for yet another bus journey! Today we were embarking for about a three to four hour ride to Hôi An. The plan was to travel through Hai Van Pass, which apparently has some stunning views of the Vietnam coastline. Unfortunately, due to the high winds and pouring rain it wasn’t safe for our bus to tackle that route. There was also very limited visibility, so we figured there wouldn’t be too much to see once we made it to the top anyway. Guess that means more time in Hôi An!
It was interesting because our GAdventures CEO told us that due to the mountain ranges, the southern half of Vietnam gets more rain than the northern half. Since we were traveling at the very start of the rainy season, we should expect heavy rains going forward. Well, she was right! Hahaha We had such luck with the weather leading up to this point, and only experienced short summer showers occasionally (that alliteration was a but much…my apologies). However, as any avid traveler knows, you can’t let a little (or a lot) of rain dampen your plans too much when you’ve got a limited amount of time in a new place. So, we packed up our rain gear and out we went to explore the lovely lovely Hôi An.
This was a city that was a the top of my list when looking into traveling to Vietnam (as is the case with many travelers). Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. However, if you are heading this way, just know that the Ancient Town of Hôi An is definitely geared toward tourists. With that being said, we were lucky because I think the rainy weather scared a lot of people off. While it by no means had a “local” vibe to it, the streets weren’t saturated with tourists, which I appreciated. I think many avid travelers these days scoff at mainstream destinations, but c’mon people…they’re popular for a reason!
After dropping of our things at the hotel, we embarked on our 5 minute walk to the heart of the aptly nicknamed “lantern city.” Hôi An is one of the most well preserved ancient towns in Vietnam. In order to maintain the charm, visitors are required to purchase an entrance ticket. Just by walking around the streets you can see the mixing of Vietnamese, French, Chinese, and Japanese influence. We had a guide quickly show us all the main focal points of the town (we had a quick window where it wasn’t pouring rain, so we tried to take advantage of our time with the dry skies). We saw the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, the beautiful main river, and hundreds of hundreds of hand crafted lanterns. I felt like I was on a movie set. Everything was just so quaint and flowed perfectly together.
After our little tour, we stopped to grab lunch. If you are in the ancient town, you have to try Nhà hàng Đèn Lồng Phố (Lantern Town Restaurant). Our CEO encouraged us to try the Cao Lau – a local dish to Hôi An. Per usual, her recommendation did not disappoint! It was so huge and so delicious. Also, shoutout to this restaurant for making hands-down the BEST coconut milkshake in this world. The whole meal was fantastic!
At this point it started to rain again, excuse me pour again. Some people opted to go back to the hotel, some people opted to stay for another drink, we opted to go pop around in some of the shops. Hôi An is known for is tailer shops. On nearly every corner there is a leather store or tailor shop who will happily custom make you an item before the end of your stay in Hôi An. I wish I had knew what I needed while I was there/budgeted accordingly because everything was so manageably priced…I’m talking a leather jacket that would normally be more than $500 costing you about $100 and perfectly tailored to your body. WILD! I’d go back just for those deals LOL
So Carolyn and Sarah got couple dresses and Charlotte found a leather duffle. After a couple hours, the rain picked up even more (didn’t know that was possible), so we trudged back to the hotel in the already flooded streets. Some people went for massages or what not, but I stayed back to relax for a bit. Then we cleaned up slightly for dinner, only to eventually explore some of the night markets in the rain. We didn’t let the weather stop us from enjoying this gorgeous town. Luckily, we have two more full days in Hôi An! More photos and more fun to come!