My journey continued, this time heading north. To what I think is the best place in Vietnam – Hoi An. This tiny town is located smack dab in the center of Vietnam by the coast, only a short taxi ride from bustling Da Nang. Now, Hoi An is most famous for the multitude of high-quality yet inexpensive custom tailors. You could have a suit made there in two days. And it would probably be one of the best suits you’d ever wear. But that wasn’t the draw. Not for me.
Hoi An is brimming with history, and it shows. Originally a stop-off point for sea merchants dating back to the 16th century, the town’s architecture is influenced by the various occupants at the time – Portuguese, Chinese, and later, the Japanese. There’s a timelessness that permeates the walls, the streets, the people. Most of the town is preserved as it was back in the day, as the town has strict building codes and doesn’t allow motor vehicle access into the historic center (which is pretty much the whole town) for most of the day. So you have to walk or ride a bicycle, and as a result, time slows down. The locals all of a sudden start to appear more approachable, like you’ve lived there your entire life. Sipping a cup of coffee takes hours.
I found myself meandering through tiny alleyways, encased by the bright yellow paint slathered across countless buildings. I would get lost, wandering around in circles, only to find myself back at the same place I started. And it was awesome.
Oh, and the food. THE FOOD! Rather than describe it, I suggest you book a plane ticket down there ASAP. It’s something you have to experience for yourself.
And if you get bored of the town (which I don’t imagine will happen), you can bike on east for about 15 minutes through the countryside to a beautiful beach with endless sand. There’s also the My Son ruins about an hour away by van, remnants of the Cham civilization that occupied the area during the first millennia.
If I could pick one place to retire to, it would be Hoi An. Hands down. Here’s a few images to help convince you.
Coming soon – the North.
More after the jump.