Published On: Sun, Oct 28th, 2018

Hoi Ann – An idyllic Vietnamese Destination

Having been granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999, this river town has retained its historic old town architecture and feel, and has become one of Vietnam’s top tourist destinations. However, despite the tourists’ numbers, it has managed to retain its traditional charm and avoid becoming a stereotypical tourist trap.

Hoi Ann - An idyllic Vietnamese Destination

With its narrow, pedestrian friendly streets of the Old Town perfect for aimless wandering, beautiful beaches only minutes away, and a range of local delicacies for visitors to try at one of the river front restaurants, Hoi Ann just oozes old world charm and grace.

Shopping in Hoi Ann

Top on most visitors list when visiting Hoi Ann is the shopping. A vast number of the traditional stores in the Old Town are home to tailors who can whip up virtually any clothing imaginable, all at prices which are extremely reasonable by western standards. Visitors should think quality suits for $100, tailored dress shirts at $15 per item, or linen dresses for as little as $20.

As with anywhere, quality and price will vary from store to store, so visitors should be prepared to spend some time shopping around. Most stores will get your piece ready in 24 hours, so you’ll get a chance to assess the quality of an item before you commit to an entire wardrobe. Two of many stores which come highly recommended are both on Le Loi Street.

Visitors looking for good quality suits should try 22 Le Loi, which provides a good blend between quality ad price. For anything in cotton and linen, from shirts, dresses to the ubiquitous fisherman pants, 54 Le Loi should feature on visitors lists.

In addition to clothes shopping, Hoi Ann boasts a smorgasbord of other items, including embroidered sheets and linen, furniture, jewellery and the like. The area around the traditional market on the river front is bound to yield some treasures for intrepid visitors.

Hoi Ann Culture Tour

A ticket, which costs VND 75 000, allows visitors access to amongst other sites; one of towns museums, one of the four houses, one of the three assembly halls, the handicraft workshop and traditional music concert and either the Japanese Bridge or the Quan Cong Temple.

For most visitors this should be a sufficient culture fix, especially considering that some of the attractions are embarrassingly poor. Visitors would be well advised to choose the Museum of Folk Culture , the Tan Ky House, the Phuc Kien (Fujian) Assembly Hall and the Japanese Bridge at night and ignore the rest of the rather dubious attractions.

The Beaches

Just three kilometres from the Old Town, Cua Dai beach offers white sand, crystal clear water and palm trees which combine to produce a beautiful beach. With some of the beach given over to high end resorts, there is plenty of space to avoid the any crowds on all but the busiest of days, and visitors will be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a spot to eat and drink after their swim.

Mama Ly’s however, at the northerly edge of the beach, is a hands down winner. Suitably rustic and very definitely local, visitors will be hard pressed to find better grilled fish, or indeed a better view from their dinner table. The mango smoothies also come highly recommended.

Eating and Drinking in Hoi Ann

The towns history of being a flourishing port town over the years is evident in it’s cuisine, being home to a number of specialty dishes you will not find elsewhere in the country. The most popular of these is cao lau, a tasty soup made with thick wheat noodles, meat, aromatic vegetables and fragrant fresh herbs.

Chinese influenced rice-flower dumplings, called banh beo and banh vac (and commonly referred to as white rose on menus) are also common. Almost every restaurant in Hoi Ann will offer these local specialties, with Treats Cafe and Mermaid amongst the most popular.

The ubiquitous bia hoi is widely available, with each restaurant serving their own particular draught, most at bargain basement prices of around VND4000 ($0.25) a glass. Also worth sampling are the local red wines which are produced up in the Vietnamese highlands.

Attractions in the Area

Hoi Ann makes a suitable base for visitors looking to do day trips into the surrounding countryside. My Son, Marble Mountain, Phuoc Lam Pagoda and even Hue are all within range of Hoi Ann. Visitors should enquire at their hotel or hostel about tour options.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at knowledgeherald@gmail.com

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