What a place! I cannot tell you how much I loved our time in Hoi An. It was by far my favourite of the four cities we visited in Vietnam, and possibly one of my favourite travel destinations of all time.
|Playing in the pool at East West Villas|
Our hotel, East West Villas, is nearly perfect. I say nearly as it is a few km out of the old town, but this is not a huge problem as you can use one of the free bicycles, get a taxi for about $3, or hire a scooter for the day for $6. We arrived after our overnight train at 8:15am at Danang station and a driver from East West villas was waiting for us, taking us the 30 minute drive to Hoi An. Upon arrival our rooms weren't quite ready but we were given a welcome drink of Passion Fruit juice and then offered the hotel breakfast by the pool. The breakfast, which is included in our room price, is one of the best hotel breakfasts ever! It is made to order, and you get coffee, fresh juice (we had mango or cucumber most days), fresh fruit, a delicious hot baguette with either bacon or jam and butter, and then a selection of a hot food, either eggs or a Vietnamese dish. Every morning it is served to us in our room or by the pool at whatever time you want. It feels so luxurious!
We were joined by Craig (Lee's brother) and his wife Mel for this leg of the trip. They live in Hong Kong so it was just a short trip over for them for the long Easter weekend. We spent the first morning at the pool,swimming, reading and the boys playing "skim ball", Andy's favourite water activity. We then headed off to An Bang beach, about 6km from our hotel, and 9km from the old town. There is a closer beach than this to Hoi An, called Cua Dai but apparently this one is nicer. The other four rented scooters to get there, but Andy and I opted to take a taxi as we were being very safety conscious due to the pregnancy. The others loved it though, and this place seems like a pretty safe environment to try riding a scooter for the first time in Vietnam.
An Bang was a nice enough beach, but not as good as the beaches in Nha Trang We ate at one of the beachside locations which I wouldn't do again without researching them. The food was average and overpriced and hygiene questionable. The food sellers are also quite pushy, offering you a free sun lounger as long as you eat at their place. If we went here again I'd read up on some places before going to work out somewhere to eat.
After the beach the others went into town for some spa action; Andy and I were both quite tired from the train journey so went back to the hotel for a nap before dinner.
Dinner was at a place called Mango Mango in the old town. We took a taxi down and I was taken away with how beautiful it was. There are lanterns hanging everywhere, their soft glow giving a magical feeling. No cars or motorbikes are allowed in this part of town at night so you can walk around without the stress and sound of constant beeping! We had a drink on a riverside boat before dinner, where a guy was playing guitar. As he went for a cigarette break he handed his guitar to Andy, who proceeded to play the three songs he knows while we sang along. Very cheesy and funny!
Mango Mango came recommended to us by a friend, the hotel, and Lonely Planet. The location on the river was gorgeous, however it was by far the priciest meal we had in Vietnam. Mains were about $25, and the 3 course set menu was $35 (which I had). This was like having a regular meal out in Melbourne. The food was pretty delicious, I had red snapper crusted with cashew nuts, with mango salsa which was amazing, but there is so much choice for food in Hoi An that I would skip this place as you don't need to pay these prices to get an amazing meal.
After dinner we went back for a fantastic nights sleep in one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept in. Have I mentioned how much I loved East West Villas?!