To explore the peaceful escape of the Hoi An’s Coconut Palms (Nipa Palms) in basket boats you first need to make your way through the quiet, scattered hamlets of Cam Thanh Island.
You’ll have no trouble finding yourself a willing locals to pilot any number of basket boats for you. In fact, you’ll most likely be besieged by prospective guides.
Once underway, you’ll marvel at the skillful bamboo construction of the bowl-shaped basket boats as they glide by spiky coconut palms growing straight out of submerged trunks.
You’ll pass other basket boats whose guides, like yours, are local men and women able to work their small paddles with such precision and skill the boats seem to hover above the water. But we recommend you urge you guide to take you to the more secluded channels away from the crowds, leaving the noisy docks far behind.
There you’ll drift into silent waterways with massive palms shading overhead. The only sounds will be your guide’s rhythmic paddling and the soft swish of the trees in this primeval wonderland.
Once in open waters again, if you’re lucky you’ll see fishermen launching bright nets and motor boats returning home from a day at sea.
UPDATE 2020: Or, this was the way it was before the Nipa Palms became the favorite destination for East Asian tourists. Now, as hundreds of busloads of tourists 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 will find fun in the corny action.
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.
To Book: Just turn up. They’ll be no shortage of locals in the area rushing to take you for a spin.