Hoi An

Amy Morison



Five best things to do with a visiting friend


Bicycle riding thorough the rice paddies

The best way to see Hoi An is by bicycle. You can cover a lot of ground, manage yourself easily in the quaint alley ways and traverse the narrow rice field tracks. Get one of the free maps available around Hoi An and work out your own route. Most hotels include a bike as part of your stay, if not, you can hire one for US$1 a day.

Try local dishes

In my opinion, Hoi An is the culinary capital of Vietnam. From street food to seafood restaurants on the beach, to the finer dining options – there are a myriad of options. For the local specialties, the street food vendors are the way to go. (The more local people eating around a small food vendor, the better.) Some of my favorite places for authentic local food are Banh Mi Op La on Tran Cau Van, Pho Xua in Old Town, Dau Hu on An Bang beach, and The Market on An Hoi island.   

Cross the Hai Van Pass

A visit to Hoi An would not be complete without a day trip to Hue via the famed Hai Van Pass. While the train journey is scenic and comfortable, I feel there is more merit in driving so that you can stop at viewpoints along the way.You can either go by motorbike, car or jeep – private car is the most comfortable option. If you wish to go by motorbike, make sure you go with either a tour or trusted local – even if you are an experienced rider, the pass is not an easy ride, I would advise against going it alone.

Hoi An Photo tour

This first-of-its-kind tour still delights as it takes you into the lesser-known but colorful fishing villages of Hoi An, as well as the heritage parts of town. Founded by photographer Etienne Bossot, you are ensured a number of excellent portrait pictures of local Vietnamese people or of them immersed in their every day tasks. Etienne also offers tours in the hill tribes of Central and Northern Vietnam as well as in Laos and even Myanmar. But it all started in Hoi An. Go to http://www.hoianphototour.com for more information.

Cham Island Diving

The cluster of islands just off Hoi An’s coast are well-worth visiting. There is still some vibrant coral and marine life to see and the beaches are just stunning. Both Blue Coral and Cham Island Diving Centre offer good dive packages and/or snorkeling day trips. If you’d like to spend time with one of the Cham families (and help sustain their income, since fishing is no longer a viable income stream) then you can book one of the home stays. The accommodation is basic but the welcome is tremendous and the experience inimitable. Bai Huong home stay is highly-recommended: http://www.homestaybaihuong.com


And Here’s My Five of the Best!


Best restaurants: Pho Xua for the best pho in Hoi An.

Best spa: Palmarosa is a great laid back day spa.

Best for coffee: hands down Mia Coffee!

Arabica beans sourced from a small family farm in Dalat, they are organic and sustainable — just beautiful beans!

Best night out: Soul Kitchen

It has a wonderful diversity of music for a chilled but cool night out.

Best ‘special find’:  Quan Cong Temple

There is a local all-nun temple on Nguyen Duy Hieu St called Quan Cong where I was invited to stay for a week (like a nun) and donate to the temple. It is a vegetarian diet and you meditate and do chores at the temple. They don’t speak English but you can work it out. I was going to do this before I was in the accident, it was on my “one thing I really want to do before I leave Hoi An” list.

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