We had heard about a place called sunflower hostel thats meant to be the best place to stay for backpackers but for some reason we decided to just go to DKs Hostel which is also the same chain as the one from Hue and Hanoi…turns out, compared to its other branches, this was crap, overpriced and no one really was staying there. So we only spent two nights there and went to sunflower instead which turned out to be perfect!
The 6 of us (Callum, Leanne, Max, Jack, Matt and I) all had a dorm room to ourselves which was a laugh, plus we had an outdoor swimming pool. It was really cheap too – bonus! The breakfast was a proper buffet which was welcomed with open arms…however there were some random breakfast dishes there, like potato salads and spicy noodles.
There was one morning we were all in the pool and a bat randomly swam past us as if it was doing its leisurely morning lengths. It was probably the most random thing I’ve seen and no one else really seemed to be phased by a bat swimming around haha!
The actual city of Hoi An was by far my favourite place in Vietnam, it was absolutely stunning. We stayed there for a week and I still wasn’t even ready to leave!
In the late evening through to the early hours, the well-preserved ancient city is lit up beautifully with lanterns and traditional Asian features creating a relaxed and romantic atmosphere. The boats that peacefully pass through the river are also lit up, creating a traditional and spiritual appearance. I really did love this place, its an absolute gem!
Strolling through this beautiful area, choosing personal clothing designs to be tailor-made and eating in one of the many outstanding restaurants with a wide range of cuisines, are just three things that will provide an unforgettable experience for literally any traveller!
There are several people along the bridge that sell floating lanterns that you make a wish on and release down into the river. I was feeling a bit homesick one day and was eagerly waiting some news on the health of two of my family members…I actually decided to make a wish on a lantern (obviously its just a gimmick) but the wish genuinely came true and I received extremely positive news from home the very next day! So maybe it works 😉 definitely should be tried…what is there to lose?!
As I mentioned, Hoi An is literally a shoppers paradise with hundreds of boutiques offering tailor-made clothes, shoes, bags and purses for brilliant quality and fantastic prices! I ended up getting one of my favourite tops copied into a teal colour – great with a tan 😉 and it came out perfectly and only cost $25 (£12.50) when the original was around $100 (£50)! Bargain! Had I stayed any longer (and not had a joint travel fund with Matt) I definitely could have gone mental on the shopping front…even though I still can’t even carry whats in my bag!
Callum ended up getting a Hugo Boss tracksuit that was meant to be $800 (£400) tailor made from a photo he found online for just $80 (£40). This was at Wall Street Tailors, and we even got the shops details to send any future orders to be shipped over to wherever we may be! Great idea for any suits or weddings etc!
Back to the food – always my highlight of the day – we had some absolutely beautiful meals here including one restaurant in particular called ‘The Streets’ that ended up being my absolute fave in the whole of Vietnam. It specialised in traditional Vietnamese food but it was done SO well. We went back twice and was not disappointed. Although it is slightly more expensive than other restaurants, it was by far worth it! It was also the fist time I had had wine in Vietnam so I enjoyed it all the more!
One other food establisment that 100% deserves a mention is ‘Madam Phuong Banh My Hoi An’. This is the most famous sandwich restaurant in Hoi An and is often visited by famous chefs.
We went to try one of these and omg it was AMAZE. It was better than the Bahn Mi that we had in Hue. All you need to ask for is the original (for 20,000 VND) and just wait for a party in your mouth.
Hoi An is noticeably more expensive than other areas of Vietnam, however it seems justifiable due to the beauty of the place! I feel as though every type of tourist looking for a different experience in Vietnam will love Hoi An. It is a completely different feel to Hanoi, and is definitely more of a tourist hotspot for holidays rather than backpacking.
There were two beaches in Hoi An, they weren’t as nice as the Hue Beach Bar and were always packed, but we were on a mission to get VERY tanned so it didn’t matter! We all parked our bikes outside a restaurant that had no sign about paying for parking, only to realise when we came back to get the bikes that you are supposed to buy something from the restaurant. Some Vietnamese guy started kicking off and going mad at us, demanded we pay. Jack decided not to stand for it and said ‘Right, watch this. I’m going to bike away now’, only to be retaliated with a violent smack on the basket from the increasingly angry man. It was a toss up between standing our ground because there was no sign, or just saving the effort and buying a bottle of water so we could leave. We did the latter and spent the whole way home bitching about the man.
Our first night out there turned out to be mental. We were still at DK’s Hostel and there was a bar crawl going on which of course we all went along to! Some of the girls we met on Castaway and Mai Chau were also there so there was quite a big group of us. Leanne and I met two Russians, whom we were convinced were in the Mafia, told them we were doctors and they bought us 6 tequila shots each which resulted in us running around the bar like children, dancing the pizza dance on tables and reenacting the Shakira video ‘hips don’t lie’ into the fan haha god we are cool…cringe slightly everytime I have a flashback of that fan haha. Great first night though!
It wasn’t until the second night we discovered a bar, the golden kite, that was $5 all you could drink…that was our new local and we went there for the next 6 nights haha. There was no one else in there, just 8 of our friends and we could be our own DJs so it was like a private party! We told everyone about it which was probably a mistake because by the last night there it was jam-packed! We think the guy that owns it could potentially be a gangster haha.
The nightlife here was a close runner up to Hanoi, as there is a big backpacker scene – meaning cheap drinks, busy bars and a really fun, sociable atmosphere.
The only thing that is a bit scary is some of the locals try to offer you a ‘taxi ride’ on the back of their mopeds. 9 times out of 10 this is fine and they will be ok, however there are too many stories of over charging, scamming and also theft. We were all walking back one night to our hotel when a bike pulled up beside us and literally chucked a girl off the back and started screaming in Vietnamese at her. She was getting quite upset – which is obviously understandable- and when we tried to find out why, it turned out she had no money. This is obviously ridiculous, however I guess it can happen when people get drunk, so I paid the man but he continued firing abuse at us all. The people we were with tried to reason but then had to get assertive back at him, and it all ended up getting VERY nasty. The driver jumped off his bike and picked up a slab of concrete and tried to threaten us all with it! He eventually went away but still…as long as you don’t get yourself into these situations I guess you’re ok! I know that doesn’t actually paint a very good picture haha but the point is, some of the locals can get a bit vicious and hostel when they work with tourists, so its important to be aware all the time! Like any city I guess.
We spent the last few nights chilling out, eating nice food and having movie nights in the hostel before it was time to head South again to Nha Trang!