Hoi An is the perfect melting pot of Asian cultures to explore on your next Vietnamese family holiday. Since its early days, it has attracted traders from across the world – Europeans, Chinese and Japanese. Today the city’s food, architecture and lifestyle reflect glimpses of these different influences.
It is also a city you can visit without breaking the bank.
It’s affordable, relaxing and educational, which makes it the perfect holiday destination.
In 1999 UNESCO named Hoi An, in the central Vietnam Quang Nam province about a 90-minute flight north from Ho Chi Minh City, as a World Heritage Site.
In short, that means it is a landmark that has cultural, historical or scientific significance and it is legally protected by international treaties.
Hoi An, on the Central Vietnam coast, qualifies on two fronts. It’s a fusion of cultures firstly and it is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Asian trading port.
Hoi An means peaceful meeting place – and that’s exactly how its people welcome tourists.
Motorised traffic is banned in the Old Town from 9-11 am and 3–9.30 pm so it is easy, and cheap as most hotels let guests borrow bicycles to get around.
Eating is also cheap in Hoi An, but be mindful that the locals like everything served with chilli sauce. So taste a small mouthful first, just in case.
Head to the Central Market and take a moment just to breathe in the fresh produce. This is home to street food at its best. It is loud, extremely busy and is the centre point of social gatherings.
Fabulous fresh food is the order of the day, every day, here. Local life revolves around food.
You must try Cao Lau, a famous Hoi An dish developed in the 18th century, and made from thick yellow oiled noodles. White rose dumpling is another Hoi An specialty dish as is the French-inspired Banh Mi. The local Vietnamese consume five or six small meals each day. It seems that they are always preparing, always cooking, always eating another meal.
While in Hoi An it is worth attempting to improve your own culinary skills by signing up for a cooking class. Most hotels run their own classes, but you can also join a half-day class at places like the Thuan Tinh school. The morning session runs from 8.45 am until 1.30 pm, costs about $56, and includes a visit to the Central Market. In the class you will learn how to cook Banh Xeo (sizzling pancake with traditional sauce); Bun Bo (noodles with sautéed beef); Goi Cuon (pork and shrimp spring roll); and Pho Bo (the iconic Northern beef noodle soup).
The best part is that you get to eat it after you cook it.
After that, you might want to find a quiet beach for an afternoon nap. Bang beach, about five kilometres north of Hoi An, has soft sand, sunbeds and warm water to swim in.
Hoi An is warm throughout the entire year with an average temperature of 29 degrees. June to August are the hottest months (about 38 degrees) and the rainy season lasts from September to January. The dry season runs from February to May so there are plenty of good beach days to work on your tan.
Another thing Hoi An is famous for is its tailors. The quality of their work is amazing. The tailors are swift so you can easily have outfits made during your stay. And the price is much better than department stores back home.
Take in pictures of what you want from magazines and the tailors can re-create them for you.
To book your Hoi An adventure, including a unique range of packages and all-inclusive deals, call Hoot Holidays.