ESCAPE TO THE MYSTICAL COCONUT PALMS
To explore the peaceful escape of the Hoi An’s Coconut Palms (Nipa Palms) you first need to make your way through the quiet, scattered hamlets of Cam Thanh Island.
After we arrived, it was only minutes before we found ourselves floating along a water highway flanked by colorful houses, restaurants, and small businesses. Soon, our journey took us floating past towering palms and our friendly guide pointed out the skillful bamboo construction of our bowl-shaped basket boat as well as the bamboo roofs of the houses around us. He also pointed our attention to the spiky coconuts growing straight out of submerged trunks.
We passed other boats whose guides, like ours, were local men and women able to work their small paddles with such precision and skill the boats seemed to hover above the water but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves secluded, leaving the noisy docks far behind.
We cruised into silent waterways with massive palms shading us overhead. The only sounds were our guide’s rhythmic paddling and the soft swish of the trees. This peaceful dream world seemed so far from the bustle of the streets of Hoi An.
Although our tour was personal, soft, and smooth, every once in awhile we turned around a palmed corner and found a group of two or three boats listening to music and even watching their guides spinning precariously on the lip of their basket boat. While we watched these playful dancers, our guide crafted us matching rings from the palm fronds next to us.
Rounding the last bend of our tour, the estuary opened up on a panoramic view of late afternoon activity. Fishermen launching bright nets, motor boats returning home, and the distinctly round basket boats were scattered about the channel in front of us. We made our way smoothly back to the dock where we’d started and said goodbye to this peaceful, watery jungle.
Although we chose to take a boat ride only, the Coconut Palms area offers several waterside restaurants as well as cooking classes. You can spend an hour, or the whole day at this watery escape.
UPDATE 2019: Or, this was the way it was before the Nipa Palms became the favorite destination for East Asian tourists. Now hundreds of busloads of tourists at a time teem over the area near the Cua Dai Bridge it’s best to avoid ‘basket boat central’ where ghetto blasters spew out ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’ and local operators set up sideshow tricks on the water although kids find fun in the corny action.
But if you’re after the primeval Jurassic Park experience described above look for smaller kayak or basket boat operators in quieter areas further away from the Cua Dai Bridge.
Address | Trần Nhân Tông, Cẩm Thanh
Price | 100,000 – 150,000 vnd; Entry: 30,000
Updated August 2018