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Hoi An – Vietnam

Hoi An - Vietnam

By comparison, what a delight we found the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam, after a one hour flight from Hanoi. Placed about halfway down this long thin country, Hoi An is an ancient town, recently listed as a world heritage site and I guess like the rest of Vietnam, very new to the concept of tourism, although “to the man” everybody we spoke to expressed their support for the change which, whist not bringing wealth (yet) has certainly changed the lives of many.

Our hotel was the Life Heritage Resort and Spa, which resides by the river at one end of the town and whilst the beach is about 3 kilometres away its proximity to the town more than compensates as there are plenty of restaurants, countless shops, galleries and tailors. The rooms in the Life Heritage Resort were clean and well equipped, the staff wonderful and service attentive, if the restaurants we felt a little dark lifeless and limited although in reality, we felt that’s probably the one downside of being so close to the town.

We took a guided tour with Ho un (yes, close to the name of the town), who calls himself the “Hoi An Easy Rider” – cheesy I know (ok, really cheesy), but a really nice chap whose relaxed, knowledgeable motorcycle tour took us through the back streets, past paddy fields and fishing villages where we were the only foreigners and we felt quite privileged to meet and speak (through an interpreter) to such lovely people and get an insight into their lives.

Back in Hoi An itself, Alex couldn’t resist buying some dresses and a jacket that were all hand-made in about 24hrs, which like any man would have brought a chill to my spine, were it not for the price of roughly £20 each and there are lots of tailors to choose from.

Laundries that will hand finish your washing for next to nothing in 24hrs and bring them beautifully pressed (of whom Anh Vu, is a good example on the corner of Phan Boi Chau and Pham Hong Thai), plus picture galleries, a market selling a huge range of fresh, locally grown produce from an even wider choice of stalls, bicycle and motorcycle hire (don’t do it – really… don’t) and spa’s add to the eclectic mix of shops and services on offer, but perhaps most notable (we both agree) was the welcome from and friendliness of the people of Hoi An, who smile readily and bid you “good night” as you head past their shop at the end of the evening.

China beach in Hoi An is well known to be some 30 kilometres of long sandy beach, but is seeing huge development at an incredible pace, with golf courses and condominiums abound, so just how long this budding resort will manage to keep its character I don’t know.


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