Elka Ray first came to Vietnam when it was still very much wild and undeveloped. Her adventures from Hanoi to Saigon in 1992 as a backpacker spurred her to pursue a degree in Asian Studies and Journalism. After 22 years amid the hectic hustle of Saigon and Hanoi, Elka has found peaceful respite in Hoi An where she is able to pursue her passion for fiction writing. Now the author of a series of children’s books and three mystery novels for adults, Elka is happy to have called Hoi An home for the past two years.
What are the five best things to do
with a visiting friend?
Rooftop drink at The Chef – early evening
I would suggest that anyone coming to Hoi An has an early evening drink at The Chef. Their rooftop provides a great panoramic view of Old Town as the sun goes down.
Lunch at Le Cabanon Cafe
Julian Prete of Nomad has a restaurant just outside of Old Town called Le Cabanon Cafe. I don’t think too many people know about it, but more people should! It is my favorite spot for lunch and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Hoi An.
Shop at Reaching Out
Anyone coming to Hoi An should shop at Reaching Out. They have some of the best housewares and jewelry in town. All of their crafts are made by disabled artisans so you know your money is going to a good cause.
Have an ice cream at Mango Mango
Mango Mango has the best ice cream! My family and I like to go sit by the market and enjoy a Gustav’s coconut ice cream. I think Mango Mango has one of the best restaurant ambiences in town.
No trip to Hoi An is complete without a day at the beach. I like to go over to Soul Beach, a little spot at the southern end of An Bang. It’s a quiet area and great for the kids to play.
And here are my top five favorites around town!
Best Restaurant: Felina Cantina
I don’t have to wander too far from my home to get some of my favorite food in Hoi An. Felina Cantina is a tasty and cheap Mexican place just around the corner. My entire family loves it!
Best jewelry: Lotus Jewelry
I love Lotus Jewelry. They do beautiful work with silver and semi precious gemstones. Their bracelets and rings are great for me and make the perfect gift or souvenir.
Best Vegetarian Restaurant: Nomad Cafe
For a vegetarian meal I like to go to Nomad Cafe. I always order ‘The Sizzle’, a combination of chickpeas and tomatoes, and I think there may be an egg in there too. They have some of the best fruit juices in town and also a notable dairy free coconut ice cream.
Best Coffee: Mia Coffee
I’m extremely picky when it comes to my coffee. Mia Coffee has been my favorite place for a Western coffee for the past two years and has the only drinkable espresso in town. I’ve tried them all, trust me, I’m an addict.
Best place for live music: Soul Kitchen
Soul Kitchen is my favorite place to go to see live music in town. The flagship of the aforementioned Soul Beach, Soul Kitchen is a laid-back, tiki-style hang out where some of the best bands from around Hoi An and Da Nang come and perform. My favorite time to go is weekend evenings.
Finish this sentence:
You know you’ve been living in Vietnam a long time when…?