Explore the streets
The Hoai River, one of the most famous canals in the world, is the perfect place for an evening stroll in Hoi An. When the sun goes down, the lanterns come out and set the scene for a romantic riverside stroll. It is here where you will get a real sense of local life, with residents going about their evening business, expats spilling out of bars and pretty coloured houses painting the perfect picture. There is also a very popular night market on the south side of the river, selling everything from street food, lanterns and trinkets as well as handcrafted goods.
Eat the local food
Restaurants, cafes and cooking classes are in abundance in Hoi An, with many of them featuring big lounge bars on the ground floor and an eating section with a balcony upstairs. Must tries include the white rose (prawn dumplings) and cao lau (a pork noodle dish), as well as the beloved Banh Mi, a baguette filled with pickled ham and Vietnamese ingredients, such as cilantro, cucumber, and pickled carrots and daikon. The most popular place? Madam Khanh, the (literal) Queen of Banh Mi’s, with people travelling from neighboring cities to pick up this delicacy for dinner. Other must tries include the super sweet yet super strong Vietnamese coffee made with condensed milk… be warned though, this little concoction is known to keep one awake for hours. There is no shortage of cooking classes in this small town, all of which offer an insight into Vietnamese cuisine. Red Bridge is a popular choice, with the course starting with a relaxing 4km cruise down the river. The half-day class focuses on local specialties, with rice-paper making and food decoration tips thrown in for good measure. There are also a ton of restaurants serving fresh, delicious food for peanuts. Try out Morning Glory and Miss Lynns for a true slice of Vietnamese fun, but prepare to wait, these places are normally packed from dawn to dusk.
Stay at the best hotel in town
Experience an idyllic blend of riverside relaxation and Anantara luxury, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on your doorstep, and beautiful beach life just a short bicycle or boat ride away at Anantara Hoi An Resort. Scenically positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Anantara Hoi An Resort in Vietnam is a charming boutique retreat in the historic port town of Hoi An. Designed with French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences that reveal Hoi An’s fascinating cultural diversity, split level rooms and suites opening onto porches with comfortable daybeds, overlooking the river or a garden courtyard. The ideal starting point from which to venture further afield and discover the town’s magnificent natural beauty and ancient cultural sites, Anantara Hoi An is a brisk five minute walk from Hoi An’s Old Town. However, if you don’t fancy leaving the resort, there are three fantastic restaurants serving a mix of international and local food, a quaint pool to catch Vietnamese rays, plus a cookery class, Spice Spoons, that comes with your own private teacher and a handful of delightful local dishes (all cooked by you!). Who said singing for your supper couldn’t be fun?
Walk through Hoi An Old Town
An incredibly preserved ancient trading town dating back to the 15th century, Hoi An is home to colourful streets, cultural influences and a tiny port, all of which have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site over recent years. The architecture is beautiful and quaint whilst the streets are small and narrow making it fun to spend a few hours simply wandering whilst browsing the boutique shops which sell everything from Hoi An lanterns and chop sticks to fake handbags and tailored suits. The best things about this town (style aside) is that it is small enough to get around on by foot and the traffic is nowhere near as heavy as the bigger cities. The Old Town only allows bike and pedestrians whilst others only host motorbikes; no cars or trucks permitted. Second is the culture, with many of the buildings constructed over a century ago featuring strong Chinese influences stemming from merchants from Guangzhou, Fujian, Chiu Chow and Hainan. Make sure you get a map from your hotel to ensure you see all the spots in this small city.
Check out the local tailor shops
One of Hoi An’s biggest tourist drawcards is the two-hundred different tailors that line the streets in the centre of town. Tailor-made suits, dresses, t-shirts, bags and leather shoes can be created from scratch, copied or designed for half the price of clothing in Dubai (and anywhere else for that matter), and the best part is almost all tailors in Hoi An offer free fittings and adjustments until garments fit perfectly. Yaly is one of the more popular shops (and my personal favourite) and has a selection of knock off design books scattered everywhere helping you pick your frock of choice, whilst the quick turn around ensures guests in a hurry can be in and out in a jiffy.