June 18, 2013

If We Had a Top 10... (Hoi An, Vietnam)

If we were making a Top Ten list of our favorite stops on this trip, Hoi An, Vietnam, would definitely make the cut. (Though I don't think we ever will make a Top Ten list because it's next to impossible to rank all these amazing experiences. What makes something a favorite? Was it the best beach? The most intense? The funniest experience? The friendliest locals? Impossible. So we probably won't' do that.) As I mentioned in our post about Hue (read here), we visited Hoi An twice. The first time, we visited on a day trip with Roman while he was visiting us in Lang Co, Vietnam (read about Roman's visit to Lang Co for my 30th birthday here) After Roman left us, Tom and I decided we wanted to spend more time in Hoi An and ended up staying almost a full week.

Japanese Bridge, Hoi An
Hoi An is an old French settlement that is absolutely filled with charm. There are beaches, shop-lined streets, excellent food, cheap beer, quality handicrafts, and colorful festivals. Because of all of this, Hoi An sees a lot of tourists - from the package tourist, to the independent upscale traveler, to lowly backpackers like us - but it somehow doesn't take away from the appeal of the town.

On our first visit to Hoi An with Roman, we spent most of the day walking the streets, perusing shops, buying artwork and souvenirs, and eating. It was a perfect day trip.

When Tom and I went back, we continued to spend a decent portion of our time doing the same thing. Hoi An lends itself best to those looking for leisure. Shop. Grab a bite to eat. Walk. People watch at the river. Have a Bia Hoi. Walk some more. Have a massage. Eat dinner. Walk. Sleep. Repeat. There are no mountains to climb or wrecks to dive. There are buildings to admire, clothes to buy, stories to hear, food to eat, massages to get, and beer to drink. Who are we to challenge this?


We were lucky to read about Loc Phat Homestay before we arrived in Hoi An and loved our time there. The owner and staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and were always asking what they could do to make our time in Hoi An more enjoyable. They even had bikes we could use, which we usually did. 

On two of the days, we rode our bikes to the coast and spent the day hopping among the beaches in the area. On another day, we took a cooking class with an impressive young chef at a local restaurant. (There's an entire post with recipes and photos coming soon.)

One of the things almost every visitor to Hoi An does is have clothes made. Tom had already had some suits made in Bangkok (a full Bangkok post will come shortly-ish), but I didn't have confidence in Bangkok's tailor shops when it came to women's clothing so had declined. In Hoi An, however, there are tailor shops everywhere with beautiful dresses and skirts and coats in the windows. Based on some advice from our guest house, we chose to go with BeBe Tailors. Before we took this trip, having tailor-made clothes is something we had planned for and budgeted for, so I went a little crazy at the shop. The experience is AMAZING! I found photos from magazines and websites and blogs that I loved and then told them if I wanted anything different (longer sleeves, deeper neckline, etc…) and then they would point out the kind of fabric that would work best and I'd choose from hundreds of color and pattern options. I had a blast picking out and designing dresses, skirts, shirts, blazers, trousers, and winter coats. ("Um, yes, I'd like you to make me a dress that looks like this Dior number Charlize Theron wore last month. Silk, please. Fantastic. Thanks.") Over the course of a week, I had 4 fittings and I can honestly say I'm thrilled with the results. Tom, unable to resist the temptation, went a little shopping crazy himself, buying casual button-down shirts, casual trousers, blazers, and winter coats. We stupidly forgot to take any photos of these clothes, but I'll try to remember to post some follow-up photos of us wearing the clothes when we're back home. (Don't worry - we visited the area where the clothes were made and even saw the people working on them. It wasn't a sweat shop at all. There were no kids working, the conditions were great and we saw tons of the workers taking breaks and lunches and they all seemed fairly content.) 

Hoi An is a place we can't wait to get back to. Check out all of our pics from Hoi An here and check out Roman's pics here. A few more favorites are below.


Flower sales

Incense on a wall in an alleyway

A billboard I loved
Check out all of our pics here and check out Roman's pics here.

1 comment:

  1. Thailand is always an awesome place to visit as it is same through out the year. even one enjoy every season of it. Custom tailor Bangkok