My Favorite Spot in Vietnam – Hoi An

The vastness of Vietnam causes travelers not only to take days or weeks traversing the country from north to south or vice versa but allows us to experience a gold mine of areas that differ greatly one from the other along the way. Amongst all of this southeast Asian country’s unique locales, it wasn’t difficult for me to choose a favorite town. Hoi An, located in the middle of Vietnam, with its multitude of colors, gorgeous riverfront and pedestrian only shopping area, placed itself on the top of my list of places to revisit in Vietnam.

Shopping district with lanterns hanging in Hoi An

The pedestrian streets of Hoi An are lined with little shops where tailors weave haute couture designs and cobblers hand craft one-of-a-kind pairs of shoes. If you’re a style and cost conscious traveler, you can stop in and get measured one day and walk out with your purchases the next. You can also buy clothes and shoes off the racks.

Woman in front of a shop selling tailor-made clothes in Hoi An

Just behind these shops lies the Thu Bon River, which is lined on both sides with Western and Vietnamese restaurants. Unlike other rivers throughout the world, the Thu Bon is not full of mere water. Unique and colorful decorations sit in its midst.

Decorations in the Thu Bon River in Hoi An, Vietnam

Nighttime may be the best time to roam the roads of Hoi An, as colorful cloth lanterns which line the bridge which connects one side of town to the other light up after dark, as do the water decorations, giving the area a personality unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere.

Lanterns and other decorations are lit up on the Thu Bon River in Hoi An every night

Sometimes the quality of your accommodations can really affect your impressions of a destination. I carefully chose a highly rated yet extremely inexpensive hotel. This place let me start off each day on a delicious note by serving the most incredibly abundant, nutritious and delicious breakfasts I have ever had in any hotel ever in my life – all free of charge. A plate filled with exotic fruits was just the appetizer, with much more to follow.

An abundant plate of exotic fruits at my Hoi An hotel

I was privileged to be witness to one aspect of Vietnamese culture I didn’t see anywhere else. As soon as I disembarked from my cockroach-infested overnight train journey from Nha Trang, I checked into my hotel, went out to explore the town and ended up walking straight into a funeral.

People gathered for a funeral in Hoi An, Vietnam

At first I thought it was some type of cheerful celebration, as many people were decorating vehicles in the streets with flowers and bunting. When one of the locals told me it was a funeral, I stopped taking photos, although he said there was no need to stop. It seemed that this funeral was more of a time of celebration than of weeping, as the same man also told me dancers would be taking to the streets later. One of these dancers popped into my path, in very cheerful attire. Perhaps the Vietnamese look at death differently than do we.

Male dancer dressed in colorful clothes outside a Vietnamese funeral

A half hour bike ride to a huge beach devoid of people on the South China Sea also earned Hoi An a top spot on my list of favorite places ever traveled. Although I didn’t find many people on this miles-long stretch of sand, I did find a bounteous amount of round Vietnamese boats sitting on the shore. It is amazing to me that people can navigate these successfully through the wild waters of the ocean, but I’ve seen them do it.

Round boat in the sand in front of the South China Sea just outside of Hoi An, Vietnam

How about you? I know a lot of people who have traveled to Vietnam have hit Hoi An. What did you like the most?

8 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Steph says:

    I spent an entire week in Hoi An because it was so enjoyable. We rented a motorbike and went to the my Son ruins one day but other then that we just hung around the old town, getting clothes made and eating amazing food. At night everything lights up and is just beautiful. Definitely one of my favorite places in Asia.
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  2. Sabina says:

    Hi Stephanie – I could have absolutely spent an entire week in Hoi An. It was one of my favorites in the entirety of SE Asia.

  3. Steve says:

    I really enjoyed my time in Hoi An too. I think your assessment of the city is just right. It has such a natural beauty and is so colorful that I was sad to leave it. I think part of the fun is in exploring the place. There are a lot of little things to notice. I had a lot of fun when I was there. Also I didn’t find too many people on the beach either.
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  4. Sabina says:

    Steve, I can’t imagine anyone not falling for the charms of Hoi An. If I was looking for a long-term place in Vietnam, Hoi An would be it.

  5. Snap says:

    Sabina, could you tell me which hotel you stayed in? I’m going back soon and am weighing up accommodation.

    Cheers!

  6. Sabina says:

    Hi, Snap. Sure – I stayed at the Hoang Trinh kshoangtrinhhoian@yahoo.com. They’re the top rated guesthouse on Trip Advisor, deservedly so. I’m sure you’ll love Hoi An – and the breakfasts at this guesthouse.

  7. Snap says:

    Thanks so much, it looks like my kind of place :)
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  8. Thanks for the great advice. I have the option of staying 3 or 4 nights or 1-2 Saigon.. which would you prefer? Does Saigon deserve at least 2 nights?

    Great to see your solo female traveler blog!

    Thanks

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