Expats' Favorite Activities
Find new spots, restaurants, bars, backroads, tailors and see who lives in your community. In ‘Locals Share’ expats reveal their favorite activities and venues in Hoi An. You may think you know everything about this town but read on, there’s bound to be a few gems you’ve never heard of.
‘The Smilinggg mission is simple. To build healthier and happier lives, one step and one smile at a time.’
After living in Thailand for a year James Cooper decided it was time for a change. Not interested in returning to his home country, England, he eventually landed in Hoi An where he fell in love with ‘the charm of the place and general vibe’. James is a personal trainer, health & wellness professional the leader of the Smilinggg movement and – according to his mates – an all around awesome person. He is often found going for a run, biking or swimming as he trains for his next endurance sports event.
California surfer dude Chris Charney came to Vietnam three years ago, drawn to the Orient by his fascination with Eastern art. From flipping pizzas by candlelight above a motorbike shop to opening beloved beach Mexican joint Felina Cantina, Chris has come a long way in the past three years. Hailing from Ventura, California, Chris has brought his love for surfing and the outdoors to Vietnam, where he is often looking for the next big swell or a quiet beach to hang out on. You can also find him slinging tacos over at Felina Cantina most days of the week.
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.
Having sold all her possessions in 2013, Claire Richmond has been living the nomad life that many of us only dream of. From simple homes to grand villas and mansions, Claire has spent time all over the world traveling as a house sitter, taking care of people’s homes and pets while they are away on vacation. After years of nomadic travel that took her from London to Spain to Bangkok, Claire has decided put down roots in Hoi An after falling in love with its quaint charm and modest price tag.
Monika Czerveniak is an Austrian-born, Vancouver-based expat who has been popping in and out of Hoi An since 2010. Monika is an outspoken free-thinker who likes to stir the pot both literally and figuratively. A retired chef, Monika has organized a number of private culinary tours of Vietnam through her Vancouver based business Chowdown Vietnam. Her newest project, Fearless Cooking, has just gone live on YouTube and aims to mitigate everyday stresses in the kitchen.
A smiling face ensconced in the Hoi An social scene, Jürgen Joost came to Hoi An from Talinn, Estonia with his wife Xenia and two children. One of only two Estonian families living in Vietnam, the Joost family has been on a constant adventure for the past two years. Jürgen worked in Talinn as a web developer and fashion photographer before making the move to Vietnam in 2014. He now works closely with his wife Xenia, a fashion designer at Yaly Couture, photographing many of her designs and fashion events around Vietnam while continuing his web design business.
Michael Kredics came to Vietnam 15 months ago as a tourist and never left. After working in communications in his hometown of Studgardt, Germany for several years, he decided it was time to quit the rat race and seek out a more laid back, peaceful lifestyle. He teamed up with fellow spirit bird Stefanie (aka Sao) to start the Hoi An Hippie House in An Bang beach. After a short stint in Saigon, Michael came to Hoi An and is not making plans to leave anytime soon.
Amy Morison is a Melbourne-based writer who came to Hoi An as a visitor at the end of 2007. Her first drive into Hoi An was magical — it was love at first sight. The move inspired her to set up Live Hoi An magazine. Amy not only came up with the concept but wrote, edited, photographed, produced and distributed the publication in the early days. It developed and improved over the years but the ethos was always to produce a quality, free magazine that would enhance a visitor’s experience in Hoi An and also help the local community. The popular Live Hoi An map was also her creation. Unfortunately Amy left Vietnam at the end of 2013 due to a motorbike accident and the last edition of her magazine was printed in 2014. She sold the map separately and is now a regular contributor to Hoi An Now.
Paul McNicol is a nerd – or so he describes himself. To Hoi An and Da Nang residents he is a computer guru, whizz kid extraordinaire and the person to go to for outside – or inside – the box electronic/computer solutions. Landing in Hoi An over twelve years ago and falling in love with the place, he craftily persuaded his seniors at Lantach (Microsoft and Hewlett Packard are customers) that it would be overall cheaper if he had a Satellite office working out of Da Nang to do out of hours work. In between his ‘main’ job, he creates interactive dance floors for parties, music systems for bars and restaurants, home theatre internet TV systems, 3D Video Projection Mapping … In between that, he is a singer and a DJ, plays 5 instruments and has run the regular Sunday night Jam Sessions at Soul Kitchen for the past four years. Not bad for a Nerd!
Prior to moving to Hoi An in 2015 Vicky Sanders along with husband, Gary, was part of Australia’s ‘Grey Nomad’ society: a group of retirees who spend their time roaming around Australia in campervans. Vicky and Gary’s last job was a six month stint as volunteers on drought affected cattle stations in Far North Queensland but it was a visit to Hoi An in 2014 that put a stop to their wandering. Affected by Hoi An’s rural beauty and slow pace of life, she and Gary moved here in 2015 and – for now – call it home.
See Vicky’s TOP TEN
Michele’s father was Dutch and her mother Canadian. They had wanderlust and began by traveling up and down the east coast of Australia. When Michele was 7 the family cycled from France to India. Between the ages of 12 and 16 Michele sailed with the family around the world finally landing in Canada. Having traveled all through her childhood Michele has remained an expat at heart. With husband Gordon there was a stint managing hotels and restaurants in Australia amongst many other business interests. Always self-employed and now with two kids Michele knew she couldn’t live in standard suburbia so the family moved to Hoi An 6 years ago. They are the owners of two of Hoi An’s most popular establishments: Dingo Deli and Hoi An Sports Bar.
See Michele’s TOP TEN
Emma has lived in Vietnam for over 2 ½ years with the last eight months in Hoi An. She trained as a masseur in Australia and is currently doing a BA in Communication and is a qualified English teacher, a good time girl and a beer monster.
A health coach and successful business woman back in Australia, Sue Davis initially came to Hoi An as a volunteer for a local charity. ‘I’d had enough of the grind and wanted to help others’, she says. ‘Hoi An was the perfect place: the community, the cost (it’s so cheap), the climate. Drawing on her vast knowledge of health and beauty, she now runs the Absolutely Fabulous in Hoi An tour; clients are treated to ‘everything that keeps you healthy, fit and looking and feeling absolutely fabulous’.
Ian Southam aka Safari Barney first came to Hoi An in 1993. There were no restaurants, no tailors – just one dress-maker, one hotel and at times it felt like a ghost town, relays Barney. Now, 22 years after his first visit he’s decided to call Hoi An home and couple his vast experience as a tour guide with his passion for Vietnamese food. Tourists, or locals for that matter, who are lucky enough to go on Barney’s very personalised Hoi An Food Safari are the fortunate beneficiaries.