WHERE IS THAI PHIEN STREET?
Think you are finished with the ancient town? Head away and a short walk of just a couple of blocks brings you to Thai Phien. This is a real picture, not of ancient but of traditional Hoi An. The block between Nguyen Truong To and Tran Cao Van is the most fascinating. Thai Phien is on the maps and you can’t miss it because the Nguyen Truong To intersection has the Travelodge on one corner and a large church is on the other.
Turning into Thai Phien you discover a whole block of local Vietnamese food stalls. All the stalls are open by 7.00am for an early start to the day. Wow, take your time to look at the range of food available. The noodles are delicious, there is a great variety reflecting the influences of the Hoi An area, especially the local quang noodles. Find My’s stall for some of the best mi quang in town. Or a little further along you will find a lady sitting on a red stool behind her red table serving the most delicious black bean and pork soup. It’s all terrific and different, you won’t be disappointed whatever you choose.
COFFEE IN THE SHADE
This narrow, tree lined and shady street is a great place to sit and drink coffee, enjoy the aromas or eat local street food. Sitting on a chair at Ngam Coffee is a cool way to enjoy the shade; or sit on a red stool at a food stall and, while you eat, have takeaway coffee delivered from across the road. Thai Phien is always bustling with activity, predominantly local people going about their business, or stopping for noodles.
To improve the congestion, shoppers pull up on their motor bikes and bicycles virtually anywhere. A steady line of people is forever shifting bikes to get to their own, or stallholders are trying to move them on to the footpath away from the front of their own stalls. No frustration, just part of life.
In the late morning, an army of street cleaners sweeps through with their barrows and a truck arrives to be loaded with recyclable wastes.
Between around 11am and midday the early morning vendors pack up their shade clothes, umbrellas, food and chairs and tables onto small barrows to be wheeled away, while at the same time they clean their section of the pavement. You would not know what had been there virtually five minutes before. Not a movement or a moment is wasted in this precision operation. Then they are gone to be replaced with the lunchtime stalls.
EVER-CHANGING AND ENDLESSLY ENTERTAINING
In the early evening food stalls are replaced by drink stalls – fruit juices and a local favorite, fruit and fruit jellies in a milk and condensed milk drink – with ice.
Across the street are more food and clothes shops; Hoi An residents buy their clothes here. The food is served more in restaurant style on this side. If the red stools are too low for you there are more comfortable, foreigner, options here.
Thai Phien is ever-changing and endlessly entertaining. Sitting here you will learn a lot about Hoi An life in a short time. Just stay a little longer and soak up the experience. There are few tourists so don’t tell too many people.