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The Highlights of Hoi An

Easy-going Hoi An is a traveller's dream. Full of grace, this traditional port town in Vietnam will captivate all who hit her shores with a veritable blend of intriguing history and cosmopolitan charm. Here are our top things to do in Hoi An.

  18/11/2016 17:03


 

Explore Ancient Town

A haven of mustard-yellow facades and bougainvillea-lined boulevards, Hoi An's UNESCO-listed Ancient Town comprises a complex of over 1,000 timber frame buildings, interspersed with temples and pagodas. In order to preserve this intriguing area, visitors are encouraged to buy a sightseeing ticket which includes entry to five attractions of your choosing (among 21), including the famous Japanese Covered Bridge and Tan Ky House.
On the fringe of Ancient Town lies the Thu Bon River. Life centres around this mesmerising body of water where conical-hat clad women and men glide along on traditional boats and its shores are alive with street food vendors and market stall holders. Ancient Town has a true bohemian feel and you can easily spend days wandering or cycling through this warren of attractions, souvenir stalls and cafes.

Enjoy some beach time

One of the great things about Hoi An is its proximity to the beach. Hoi An's central coastal stretch encompasses both Cua Dai Beach and An Bang Beach. Most of the luxury beachfront resorts are found on Cua Dai, while An Bang is a languid enclave of cabanas and cafes.
If you're staying near Ancient Town, it's an easy four-kilometre bike ride to either stretch of sand. You won't be able to ride right to the shore, but you won't be short on secure places to park your bike. Keen entrepreneurs have set up bike parks where you can lock up your wheels for a small fee.
After all that peddling, you'll no doubt be in need of some liquid libations. Settle into a beach chair or a daybed beneath a gazebo at one of the many bars/cafes and while away the afternoon. If you like pina coladas (and getting caught in the rain), head straight to Soul Kitchen.

Visit Tra Que Vegetable Village

Situated between the beach and old town is a lush landscape of rice fields and villages. At its heart is the Tra Que Vegetable Village. This garden is famed across Hoi An as its cultivation continues in the traditional method with no chemical fertilisers, simply a type of algae found in a nearby lagoon. Tra Que supplies most of the restaurants in Hoi An, and you can peddle or wander through the immaculate rows of brilliant green herbs and watch the farmers at work.
If you're a keen green thumb, why not book in for a 'day in the life' tour and try your hand at harvesting everything from mint and coriander to the incongruous fish mint – its name is an apt representation of its flavour. It's a taste you won't forget anytime soon!

Get something tailored

A trip to Hoi An wouldn't be complete without picking up a garment or two from a local tailor. Affordable, quality suits, blazers, dresses and everything in between can be whipped up in a matter of days according to your specifications and sizing – allow at least three days, though. Do your research beforehand as some stores have better reputations than others. Yaly is my pick for its range of quality fabrics, service and timeliness. You'll only need to do one or two fittings to ensure the item of clothing is to your liking and they'll even deliver the garments to your hotel. Once your measurements are in the system, it's as simple as ordering online for any future pieces.

Eat!

The bohemian town may be picture-perfect, but it’s the culinary landscape that really draws the crowds. Hoi An is Vietnam's food capital, drawing on the fresh, fragrant trademark of Vietnamese cuisine, but with its own flair thanks to its multicultural heritage of Chinese, French and Japanese influences.

Three dishes encapsulate Hoi An's culinary heritage: cao lau, a unique noodle dish; white rose, a clear pork and prawn dumpling; and com ga, chicken rice made with turmeric and a fiery chilli jam. You can find these in most restaurants in Hoi An, but head to the jam-packed Central Market for the most authentic versions.
For something a little different, head to Bale Well, where, quite simply, you'll eat well. This unassuming restaurant is renowned for its spread of make your own rice paper rolls which includes spring rolls, crispy banh xeo (a savoury pancake) and grilled meats to wrap up with fresh herbs.

Fortunately, you don't have to spend big to eat well. Fine dining hasn't quite infiltrated this tourist town, so you can take your pick from a range of riverfront restaurants which serve up stellar cuisine without having to dip too far into your travel kitty.

Enrol in a cooking class

With its leading culinary reputation and access to incredibly fresh produce, it's no surprise Hoi An is the best spot to learn the art of Vietnamese cuisine. There's no shortage of cooking schools here, which all include market visits before preparing the meal. The majority are geared towards tourists; but if you're after the kind of experience when you're not in a class of 30, wander away from the main hub. You'll find the more unassuming eateries offer the best, most hands-on cooking experience. Head straight to Hi Restaurant on 1 Nguyen Phu Chu St and give my regards to Anh and Chi Hi! You won't be disappointed.

Source escapetravel
 
Subject: Vietnam
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