Arrived at the beautiful Palm Beach Resort a 20 minute drive from Hoi An. The rooms are huge, with heavy wooden furniture, tiled floors and enormous bed, air conditioned. Bathroom has giant stone bath with rainforest shower. We had breakfast only here but it was a feast with a very extensive buffet offering European and Asian food. They made me vegetarian asian crispy pancake rolls daily although there was always fish and meat versions available to help yourself to. Fruit in abundance, rice, lentil curry, soups, steamed vegetables, cereals, breads and a variety of juices. We didn't need lunch and ate dinners outside in local places
It's the only hotel I have ever stayed in where there is no shortage of sunbeds or towels and you can swim in the pool at night!
Hoi An is a Unesco World Heritage Site where part of the town is closed to traffic other than bicycles and rickshaws. It is picturesque, colourful and very French/colonial.
A ticket can be purchased in town to access up to five of the many tourist attractions - the most popular being the Japanese bridge. A £4 ticket gets you into 5 places of interest of your choice. You could get by without the ticket but if you want to explore inside the ancient houses and temples (including a small one inside the famous Japanese bridge) it's great value. The old houses are very dark inside but are designed around an open courtyard area where originally they would have cooked and relaxed. We visited at night so I would recommend daytime visits if you want to see well and get good pictures.
If you order a meal in the smaller street bars, they will often bring it from somewhere else, it could be cooked in their home round the corner, in another bar, who knows! but it will arrive by moped in a pot balanced precariously and the driver will run in with the steaming pot straight to the kitchen, seconds later it's on your plate! Pizza, curry, noodles, all delivered by moped to the kitchen.
The market sells fresh vegetables, fish and spices during the day then turns into a tourist/clothes and street food market at night. There are plenty of places to eat or sit and drink beer all around the outskirts of the market which are nicer than the very cramped food areas inside. This is where I tried some of the delicious food - the one below is an egg pancake with mashed banana inside and chocolate sauce over the top, chopped into squares and eaten with a stick. It was hot, delicious and very filling.
|pancake with mashed banana filling, hot, filling, delicious street food|
There were 'ice cream' curls: made from crushed/chopped strawberries, prepared on dry ice and then spread with some condensed sweetened milk, the pulp freezes instantly and is scraped off into 'curls' presented in a little paper cup.
|chips and beer, Hoi An market|
I bought some lightweight cotton wrap beach trousers and an open back top for only a few pounds after some bartering. There are many shops selling coffee and it's a good place to buy the traditional Vietnamese coffee filter pots.
Beautiful silk lanterns are on sale here. When shopping you can expect to bargain 30% or more off (about £3 each) so having had the fun of the barter, you could pay a little more if you want to walk away feeling you were fair. People aren't poor by their own standards, but their lifestyle is very different to ours (one elderly lady was so surprised at my paying a bit more after a hard haggle that she hugged and kissed me, a lot!).
|silk lanterns on sale on street corners and in the market|
You can get one of the many brightly painted boats below or a little rowing boat above to take you along the canal. Night times are best as the rowing boats are lit by silk lanterns, the scene is absolutely beautiful, as are the streets (it is a requirement in the area for the shops to maintain lanterns at night, they run on cables across the streets, failure to comply can result in a government fine).
Around the bridge and river at night there are many young and elderly people selling little 'helicopters' for a few UK pence that you can release into the sky like bright blue and white fireflies - they 'die' quickly but last just long enough to make a wish!
Throughout Vietnam there are Bhuddist, Hindu and Animist temples. In Hoi An the temples we saw were Chinese.
We were told that the wooden doorways deliberately have a 'step' so you lean forward as you enter, forcing a bow of respect towards the inner alter.
|toad is a popular street food here (we didnt try this one!)|
The school run, not a car in sight. people carry babies in
body pouches to squeeze the whole family on their mopeds and the school
bags are either placed on the handlebars and/or the footwell.
|navy silk flippy skirt, charity shop find!|
|inside one of the ancient houses within the town that are now museums|
|temples abound, the smell of incense is overwhelming at times|
|Hoi An market, we had chips and beer whist watching brisk sales|
|our hotel lounge bar|
|Jaeger beach kaftan (charitiy shop) split trousers Hoi An Market|
Useful tip: always agree the price before you sit down to eat/drink so there are no misunderstandings, if it's beer on the street, it's easier to pay up front. If extra dishes are placed in front of you (black tea, spring rolls, breads) and you didn't expect them and don't want them, be firm as you will be charged!