First time to Vietnam and I chose Hoi An as the place to visit given I only had a week to spare. I had heard only great things about Hoi An, a French colonial town that has great restaurants, tailors and home to Unesco sights.
I was not disappointed, absolutely loved it and would go back again tomorrow.
I flew with Vietnam Airlines on the new Dreamliner in Economy class, 3-3-3 configuration. Sydney-Ho Chi Minh City ( flight time 8 and a bit hours) and then onto an airbus Ho Chi Minh City-Danang (flight time 1 hour and 20mins), Gateway to Hoi An. I was quite impressed with the service and also the inflight meal. Cold and Hot towels provided when on board plus an Amenities kit including slippers + toothbrush and toothpaste.
The airline has a 4 star rating with Skytrax and are part of the SkyTeam Alliance. They also have their own frequent flyer membership program called Lotus miles.
As we transited in Ho Chi Minh City we were advised by check in staff that we would need to put our bags on a transit belt for the next flight, this was not the case. You actually go through immigration pick up your luggage and then walk out and are greeted by Vietnam Airlines staff, they tick your names off a list and you leave your bags with them, they then transfer the bag to the domestic flight.
You then need to walk approx 5 minutes to the domestic terminal and go through security for the next domestic flight. A word of warning, please go to the gate and double check as the electronic board advised gate 6 which was incorrect, when I got to the gate there was a big poster advising of a different gate number!
On the return it was much more streamlined as the bags were checked all the way through and boarding passes provided for both flights. Only needed to walk the 5 minutes from domestic to the international terminal.
Hoi An is approx a 40 minute drive from Danang. Transfers were arranged through our hotel and cost USD18 each way.
We stayed at the Hoi An River Town Hotel a fabulous 4 star hotel about a 5 minute walk from the Ancient town overlooking the river and is away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of town but close enough to major attractions and restaurants. The staff are an absolute delight and make a stay at this lovely property truly memorable. They are so friendly and address you by name.
Welcome drinks, cold towels and fresh fruit are provided when you first check into the hotel.
The hotel rooms are very spacious-I had a Deluxe twin room with 2 single beds overlooking the pool on the lower floor. As it was my mum’s 60th they also decorated the room with flowers and a towel made up as an elephant -so very sweet and thoughtful.
The hotel offers a daily turn down service which is also nice to come back to when you have been out all day. A Complimentary bottle of water per person is provided each day and tea/coffee provided in room.
Complimentary wifi is provided and you are also free to use the 2 Mac computers located in the main area of the hotel foyer.
Bikes are also provided free of charge.
There are 2 pools, one at the front and one at the back of the property, a fitness centre, a lovely garden and there are many sitting areas to relax and unwind.
The daily breakfast is fantastic, complete with beautiful fresh fruit, juices, pastries, breads, cereals, bircher muesli, egg station, Asian delights including sushi, dim sum, Vietnamese and Korean dishes,
The hotel’s own restaurant “Soul” is also a great place to dine for lunch or dinner, serving both Vietnamese and Western dishes. I enjoyed my first Cao Lau a local Vietnamese dish there-delicious!
Happy hour 2 for 1 drinks between 4pm-6pm by the pool and 9pm-11pm is also an added bonus. Cocktails fabulous!
The hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service to either the town or An Beach which is fantastic especially when it is a really hot day. Recommend booking at least a couple of hours in advance to avoid missing out.
Ancient Town, gorgeous -lots of shops, restaurants , French colonial style houses. Home to the Japanese Bridge which is also a Unesco sight. Must also visit at night as lit up with colourful lanterns along the river and also strung up around the town, very pretty
My Son – Afternoon tour booked through Hotel, approx 40minute drive from Hoi An. Another Unesco sight, Hindu temples in the mountains, US bombs through the war destroyed some of the temples. Once a place of worship for the Cham people. Water provided and ferry back to Hoi An, a Banh Mi provided on the ferry which was a nice way to finish the tour.
Afternoon bike tour with Heaven and Earth Bike Tours. Bike and cold water provided throughout. An hour ferry ride to the local island, 9km bike ride through villages-beautiful scenery , plenty of photo opportunities. See straw mat and basket boat weaving, opportunity to go in a basket boat. Fantastic tour -great to meet local people and see how they live.
A foodie paradise and below are places worth a visit:
Kumquat Bar and Grill about a 10minute drive from town. The restaurant is part of the family home and overlooks gorgeous gardens. It is an open kitchen and you can watch your meal being cooked. He uses local produce and greens from his garden. The BBQ flavour is sensational and chef also runs a local cooking school.
Thi Nhan seafood restaurant located at Cua Dai about a 15minute drive from Hoi An. Visited by the late Anthony Bourdain. Provides a variety of fresh local seafood-Great Tamarind Crab and staff deshell the crab for you. Hoi An Central Market is a great place to sample fresh local food and Very cheap.
Mr. Son is located in Hoi An town, number 62 of the food court. Mr. Son brews his own beer and is approx. 40cents per beer! Great to sample local dishes such as white rose dumplings, fried wontons, fresh spring rolls, Cao Lau. Communal dining.
Banh Mi Phuong – Famous for its Banh Mi (beautiful fresh baguette with pork or beef filling + greens) approx $1.50!-recommend number 9 the pork! Also visited by the late Anthony Bourdain.
Morning Glory Restaurant -a famous restaurant located in the Ancient Town. Can get very busy so worth booking. Great dishes with a modern spin. Beef in betel leaves, Duck banana flower salad and squid stuffed with mince all worth trying.
Hoi An Golden Kitchen – located a short walk from the Hoi An River Town hotel. Recommend the seafood salad.