In order to enjoy fully the lovely Hoi An you need to take the time to enjoy its hidden gems. And they are quite a few! In the Old Quarter most of the places are a bit over-priced (coffee shops, restaurants, tailors, hotels, etc): it is still OK compared to European pricing standards but definitely more than the Vietnamese pricing standards. But they can, because many tourists don’t even realize it.
Here are a few places we enjoyed and that we think they were a great deal!
We usually don’t review accommodations, but this one had the price-quality ratio as high as the sky.
We can only recommend our Guesthouse Full House 2 Villa as we loved it so much.And I mean that! We believe the deal was amazing as we paid about 16EUR/night for a big bedroom with balcony and AC (and the best shower we experience in Vietnam!). This also includes a super delicious breakfast buffet, and a swimming pool (probably around 8 meters by 3 meters, decently sized)!
Since it is out of the touristic area and in a quieter zone, we really appreciated that. They rent bicycles for free and scooters for 100K dong (approx. $4 -$5), which is a very fair price. The old town is only 5 minutes away by bicycle and the beach about 15 minutes away. It was really easy.
Nevertheless, the best about that place is the family that runs it: always available, always smiling and very generous and attentive! Given that they are young parents we were very impressed by their capacity of never showing their tiredness or crankiness!
You can book it on Booking.com.
Out of the few places we tried, there are 2 places we truly recommend and we invite you not to miss.
The first is Banh Mi Phuong. As the name says: this is a Banh Mi place (the Vietnamese sandwich). Very good deal for delicious ones. Our personal favorite was the Number 7, with an omelet. Beware, the place is very popular so prepare to line up a bit and to take away. Also don’t go too late in the evening: the first time we tried they were just running out of baguette and therefore closing (around 19:30).
The second is Minh Hien Vegetarian Restaurant. A bit North from the Old Town in a nice little street. This place is surrounded by books, offers nice Fresh Beer at only 5K and have a wide range of yummy food. The Set Menus are a very good deal to try the local specialties.
They are many coffee shops around! And many are good so it will be easy to find one. The one we recommend here are not necessarily the best but both had fair prices and offer something unique.
The first one we recommend is Hi Phin Coffee House in the same street as the Vegetarian Restaurant above. This place was actually a very nice working place. It has a pretty quiet, light and nice atmosphere and the wi-fi works well. We recommend the Frappuccino there if it is warm outside, refreshing!
The second one is worth it mainly if you are willing to try a very good egg coffee. It is called Coffee House and it is on the main street going down to Hoi An (a bit outside of the Old Quarter).
Hoi An is mostly famous for its tailors, its lanterns and its artistic creations. So this is what we have been looking for!
There are literally hundreds of tailors in Hoi An so it is easy to be over-whelmed! Our advise: take the time to look around, check recommendations online, enter by chance in some shops, ask prices, don’t hesitate to get away of the main street. Try to target family businesses over big names. Note that whatever they say they almost all propose the same kind of fabrics (there are only 2 or 3 wholesalers) so the price difference from one shop to the other can mainly be justified by the quality of the sewing itself. You will see that the price can vary from single to triple. The cheapest is not necessarily the best, but triple the price clearly doesn’t mean triple the quality.
We went to quite a few shops and ended up choosing Ty Ha Na mainly for 3 reasons: she had models in her shop we really liked, it was a true family business (the last night one of the sister fixed the last details of one of my dress in half and hour!) and she offered us fair prices from the beginning. Again, at this point is a question of feeling. Anyway we are pretty happy with the result (see the pictures of Silviu as himself forgot to take pictures of my dresses).
Hoi An is famous for its handmade silk lanterns and you will be able to see hundreds hanging in the streets and lighting up the restaurants and shops. It is also a great souvenir to bring back home. If you have time you can attend a class that will teach you the process and you will be able to make your own. Otherwise there are many places where you can buy one but the best place is the Lantern market (at the entrance of the Night Market).
In March 2018 the prices were from 50K to 90K ($2.5 – $4) for a medium size one and 80 to 130K ($4 – $6.5) for a big one. The more expensive ones are the hand-painted one.
Art and handicraft
Of course this is something you can find everywhere but because it is an important touristic area you really have a lot of choices available with a wide range of quality and price. Every day until around 8pm (later in the main street) you can wander around the markets and plenty of shops; at night from 6 to 10 pm, the night market is the place to go.
We wanted to take the opportunity of having a box (of tailored clothes) shipped home to add in some light souvenirs for us and a little something for our mothers. Because they both read the blog I cannot spoil their surprise but for us we couldn’t resist to the drawings of Ha Duong a local artist (shop: Ha Ha Art is everywhere). Lucky for us this was the one day per week where he actually was in the shop so he signed our little piece of his artwork! The picture we took is not the best as always… but he is a really amazing person.