Hoi An was the last destination on our trip through Vietnam. We wanted to go all the way down to the south of the country but didn’t have enough time. You really need to spend a month in Vietnam to see everything it has to offer.
We arrived Hoi An early in the morning and went to drop off our bags at the small hotel we booked on the way. It had free bikes for visitors, so we grabbed two and went to look around in the oldtown. Basically, we spent a day wandering in the city and making a quick bike tour to the beach, still “digesting” our previous adventures in Phong Nha.
In the beginning of the trip, in Hanoi, I wondered about local architecture that was almost absent. In fact, a lot of beautiful places were destroyed during the war. But not in Hoi An. It had the most authentic architecture in all of the oldtown which was very well taken care of. No wonder Hoi An is one of the UNESCO cultural heritage sites. It was full of old temples, pagodas, community houses and dragons. Yes, with Pedro’s love for dragons we ended up having quite a few photos of them.
Hoi An clearly stood out from the rest of Vietnam we saw. It was a wealthier area, with better housing and unbelievable number of tourists, as well as shops and restaurants for them. I don’t think locals use their services… The prices were 2-3 times higher than in any other place we visited during the two weeks, beers being almost as expensive as in Europe. Walking at the old town I had a weird feeling of wondering in the biggest and most fancy shopping mall ever. No wonder knowing that merchandise was part of Hoi An’s history and heritage.
One of the things Hoi An is famous of is lanterns. There are thousands of them all over the oldtown and at night they turn into a spectacular and romantic view. Just “a bit” crowded. We used TripAdvisor again to find a nice place for dinner and came across another hidden gem – Nostalife. It was a small restaurant, just few meters away from the main crowded street but had a wonderful terrace and delicious food. Actually, I ranked this restaurant as No 2 in our trip (nothing can beat the pancakes at The Duck Stop in Phong Nha).
After spending a full day in this fancy tourist resort we decided that we need to do something different for the last day of our holidays. Even though we had a short visit to the beach in Hoi An, the coastline was still not truly explored during this trip. Thus, after analyzing the map and possible destinations we came up with the plan for the next day: we would take a bus to The Marble Mountains and then walk all the way back to Hoi An on the beach.
Next morning we found a local bus stop to take us where we’d planned. A local bus wasn’t as fancy as the cosmic bus for tourists. We loved it for that even more. The bumpy ride to The Marble Mountains took us almost an hour. The bus had many stops but really stopped only in the ones that had kids and pregnant woman waiting for it. Everyone else had to hop on or off while the bus simply slowed down.
The Marble Mountains turned out to be another very touristic destination. I guess you can’t expect it to be otherwise knowing it is situated between a big city – Da Nang, and a crowded resort – Hoi An. Nevertheless, The Marble Mountains had one very interesting spot to see – a temple inside of the cave. You get a WOW moment once you enter, much more than in any regular temple you visit. Apart from that, you get to see some other temples and panoramas from the top of this small mountain.
Very soon we felt we had enough and headed towards the beach where the main part of our day was planned. Hoi An was approximately 15 km away and we wanted to walk all the way back. So we did.
It was a very nice walk. The coastline had some expected contrasts: from polluted and abandoned wild beaches, beaches occupied by fishermen to shiny clean private beaches. But in general, we saw more clean golden sand than dirt. We walked barefooted, stopping for a refreshing swim once in a while. The sky was grey (don’t get deceived, we got significant sunburn!!) and we even had few raindrops but the temperature, as always, was high enough to make us sweat nonstop. We barely saw any people until we reached Hoi An. It was a calm walk that gave us time to rethink our adventures during the past two weeks and start psychologically getting ready for going back home.
Next day we took a domestic flight from Da Nang back to Hanoi and went for a last walk and dinner in the old town. In two weeks we already forgot a bit how chaotic Hanoi was. Vietnam was definitely an amazing experience full of diversity, beautiful nature and unforgettable memories. We’ll be back…
Our last routes in Vietnam:
Biking in Hoi An:
Walk from The Marble Mountains to Hoi An: