Hot and Heavenly Hoi An

Friday, 30 June 2017

Desperate to see the ocean again and swim in the sea it was no surprise that we were excited to finally make our way to Hoi An. I heard great things about Hoi An, from the pretty lantern lit streets to the sprawling beach; it was a place I was looking forward to explore.

After a short but sweet stop in Hue, enjoying an incredible mint chocolate chip shake in a cafe I can't remember the name of (apologies) we were back on the road to Hoi An. Already the scenery was a lot more up my street, passing beautiful Danang on the way (which we were very sad about not stopping at). When arrived at Hoi An the first thing we noticed was the heat! Blessed with blue sky's and scorching temperatures (between 32-40 degrees) we made an agonising trek to our homestay 'Petunia Gardens' - recommended by the lovely Emily and Sam (thanks guys if you're reading this!). The owners of Petunia Gardens were so accommodating and friendly and made our stay V special - the breakfasts are also ah-ma-zing (I can vouch for both the banana pancakes and the omelette). The location also worked really well for us as it was equal distance from the old town and the beach - perfect. Although most people rented scooters or push bikes we were mad and walked - which if you like walking is really not that bad!

So Hoi An quickly became our fav place in Vietnam, it was everything we could of dreamt for and more - we ended up extending our stay from 3 days to 5. Due to the insane weather we spent most days chilling at the beach, which for south east Asia was actually very clean, both beach and ocean. The water was surprisingly clear and cold, making cooling off in the heat a dream! Although one of the days we just laid out towels, most days we opted to rent loungers on the beach as the sand was just too hot to lay on. These were cheap and sometimes free if you bought drinks and lunch.

Beach bumming aside we did partake in other activities, including mooching about the old town, eating loads of great food and I got a fabulous dress made. Not quite the usual adventurous 'backpacking' activities but Hoi An was all about the relaxing for us.

The old town was beautiful - it was like stepping into ancient China. No cars or bikes were allowed which made mooching a lot more safe and fun, and although it was rather busy it was never too packed to move about and see everything. The lanterns are one of the things Hoi An is most famous for and seeing them all lit up really was magical. The river running through the town was also lit up with lanterns floating down it whilst little boats took people on romantic night time trips. The entire town was very special.

As for good food Hoi An has plenty, however due to its popularity with tourists the prices are extremely inflated compared to the rest of Vietnam. Luckily my pal Emily (thanks again) saved us by recommending street food vendor and all time legend, Miss Lien. Tucked behind some restaurants along by the river, at the end of the right hand side of the bridge are about a dozen little food stands selling cheap and delicious Vietnamese food. Night after night we return to Miss Lien to enjoy her sweet and sour tofu, veggie fried rice, egg plant in peanut sauce, roasted pumpkin and the best spring-rolls. As well as her dreamy food she was also such a lovely lady, and a pleasure to chat to - I highly recommend to any backpacker on a budget in Hoi An. Heres a piccy below of Craig and his mate, Ryan that we met up with at Miss Liens for a few beers!

As well as the pretty lanterns Hoi An is also famous for it amazing quality tailors making anything from full wedding suits to party dresses to swimwear - you name it they can make it. It is also the cheapest place in the world to have something designed and made to measure. Being the fashion victim that I am I made no hesitation in visiting Baom Diep - a highly recommended tailor near the old town to enquire about having a dress made. The lovely ladies at Baom Diep picked us up on their bikes and from the moment we walked into the shop we felt relaxed and in safe hands, the ladies that worked here were so friendly, attentive and extremely talented. Instantly I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and could easily or designed an entire new wardrobe - however a very frightened Craig explained how it would be best if I only got one dress made to save our budget (and the rest of our trip). Lan the lady who made my dress was so amazing and listened to all my ideas and put up with me flitting between ideas and fabrics. In the end I went for a summer maxi dress, with a plunging halter neck line, low back in a plum and navy Paisley sheer material with a navy lining. In total I visited Bao Diep 3 times for various fittings and Lan didn't stop until it fitted perfectly. The dress cost me £50 which for a once in a life time, made to measure dress, using a lot of fabric (including a lining) is so good! I can't recommend them enough - Lan is so talented!

So as far as Hoi An goes that's pretty much it - a lovely relaxing place with so much individual charm. I would love to return one day with my mum and dad as I reckon this is somewhere they would love! Compared to the rest of Vietnam everything runs a bit slower in Hoi An, the people are the sweetest we've come across and everything just feels like it's on holiday mode. Sadly we had to leave Hoi An, we easily could have stayed another week in the sunshine.

Elly x

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