22.10.2016 - 26.10.2016
Hot and extremely humid, the pool would be used A LOT 😳
Once a major port Hoi An sits along the river with its yellow painted walls and historic buildings: Japanese merchant houses, ancient tea warehouses and Chinese Temples, many of which have been preserved and converted into restaurants, cafes, shops and tailors - of which there are MANY.
A one off entrance fee to the Old Town goes to it's conservation and provides access to a number of historic buildings.
Sitting on the balcony overlooking the river in the early morning sun, drinking coffee and reading a book as Johnny swam laps in the pool below.
Sitting on the balcony in the evening as the sun goes down, drinking red wine, relaxing and reflecting on the day before heading out for dinner.
The Old Town with its narrow streets, yellow painted walls and historic buildings, especially when lit up at night by lanterns hanging from balconies , strung across streets and floating down the river.
Loved loved loved driving out of town to explore the coast and beaches on hired motorbikes, and even better that we survived the chaos that is Vietnamese driving to return unscathed.
The busyness of the hotel at the weekend
Be aware that Hoi An is a holiday resort for the locals and so weekends can be busy with families so either avoid staying here over a weekend or be prepared and go for breakfast early to avoid the madness.
We crossed the river and wandered the streets of Hoi An Old Town by day and by night.
By day the touts were out trying to lour passers by to one of the many tailor shops, the shops within the old town were selling their wares and the fresh food market was buzzing, but by early evening a lot of this had closed.
At dusk the place was buzzing, the streets were lit up with hanging lanterns and the river with floating lanterns, small boats floated up and down the river and food vendors were selling a smorgasbord of local dishes by the riverside- and this was where we ate dinner on our first night.
Amongst the many silk shops one- Cocoon - had silk worms on display showing how silk is produced.
Stopping at one of the many street barbers Gus was treated to an ultra modern head shave.
Next to the hotel was an artificial soccer pitch and the locals 7 a side games provided us with lots of entertainment as we stood on the balcony corridor before heading out for dinner.
We headed to Hoi An Roastery for a coffee fix before our morning cooking class. We met Linh, our guide, in the old town and she started by showing us the buzzing, vibrant and colourful food market with an abundance of different fruit, veg, herb and spices, fresh rice noodles- some coloured with turmeric, seafood and fish- including eels, meat and poultry. After the market we jumped a boat for a short ride up the Hoi An river to the Red Bridge Restaurant which hosted the Cooking School set in a tranquil oasis garden along the riverside approx 4km out of town. Here we met Mimi, our Chef and instructor, and under her guidance we learnt food carving and how to make rice milk, paper and noodles and made Crispy Hoi An Pancakes with shrimp, Seafood Salad with Vietnamese herbs, Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with shrimp - with our own handmade rice paper and Quang Nam style fresh rice noodles with chicken. Our lunch consisted of what we had made, plus a fresh fish to make summer rolls. The school also has a pool where you can relax after the class and find your own way back into town or they offer a return boat ride.
We spent an awesome morning on motorbikes leaving the Old Town behind and exploring the coast and secluded beaches on hired motorbikes. Vietnamese road rules are 'anything goes': no need for mirrors as there is no expectation to look around you, no stopping at junctions or red traffic lights- just go and everyone works around everyone else! So with that in mind we set off to Cua Dai and then up the coast towards Danang. Cua Dai beach was experiencing severe erosion and gangs of men were filling sand bags to protect the eroded coastline. Heading north we stopped at An Bang and after negotiating a parking charge with the very funny and cheeky lady we wandered down to the beach area with its sun loungers and bamboo umbrellas. Danang skyline could be seen in the distance and the Cham Islands on the horizon. As there were very few tourists about we were magnets for the locals selling their souvenirs and after buying some trinkets we moved off in search of a quieter beach. We had been told to look out for Hidden Beach which was apparently not so hidden but less touristy with a couple of nice restaurants, however it was too hidden for us and we finished up nearly in Danang before turning around. We drove along a little street off the main road and found Sounds of Silence coffee shop with a beautiful garden area and access to a quiet soft sandy beach where they serve food and drink. The place also offered homestay with lovely little rooms dotted around the garden- a definite consideration for the next visit.
Thao Moc Viet was opposite our hotel and the place we hired our motorbikes from, but they also offered spa services and with the offer of half price treatments we could not resist the temptation for some pampering: full body massages, head neck and shoulders and cucumber wraps to re- moisturise after a few days in the sun.
On the 25th October we were celebrating a birthday and sat on our balcony eating the cup cakes the hotel had delivered to the room whilst drinking red wine and listening to jazz music from the pool below, perfect end to a great day.
The pool and poolside bar was a regular afternoon haunt to escape the heat and the humidity of Hoi An and just chillax.
Eating and drinking:
Our first night we sat by the riverside at one of many food stalls and shared dishes with the locals, we tried White Rose, Hoi An Spring Rolls, beef skewers -to be wrapped in mustard leaves with picked veg and herbal tea.
Hoi An Roastery is not the cheapest but makes good western coffee as well as local coffee, we returned a couple of times and between us tried their egg coffee, coconut coffee, iced coffee, Vietnamese coffee, latte, iced tea and ginger tea and all were very good, as is their carrot cake 😜
Hoi An Silk Marina/ poolside bar -the food, as you would expect from a resort, was not cheap but it was nice and convenient for the occasional quick snack.
We found BoBo's whilst wandering a little out from the main area of the Old Town, a small family run cafe offering local food at reasonable prices, the Cau Lau was only 35 dong (approx $1.50)
White Marble restaurant and wine bar has the same owner as Red Bridge and the same extensive (and expensive) wine list. Not having had a decent glass of wine for a few weeks we splashed out with a glass of bubbles and couple of glasses of red and a cheese board and selection of dips.
We made an impromptu stop at Before and Now as they were showing a live EPL game with Man City, so we just HAD to stop for a drink or two (shame the end result of the game didn't go in favour of City!)
Not sure what the food is generally like at Red Bridge but what we had was good and we made it ourselves as our lunch was the product of our earlier cooking class 😜. The tranquil riverside setting and great wine list make it an awesome setting for dinner.
Red Gecko cafe is located around the corner from our hotel on the Hoi An Peninsula. A local family owned restaurant providing BBQ and Vietnamese dishes. We selected a fresh fish on the BBQ, papaya salad and veggies in curry sauce. The family all participate in the running of the cafe, including the children who made our cocktails 😳.
We found Sounds of Silence coffee shop as we were traveling along the coastal road on motorbikes, just off the main road down a little street backing onto a quiet, beautiful sandy beach is this little oasis that makes awesome coffee. We ate in the garden but they also serve to the loungers on the beach. Their coconut coffee, cafe latte and Vietnamese tea were all very good.
The birthday boy got to choose dinner on our last night and decided on Indian at the sister restaurant to the one we visited in Hue - Ganesh, and it was just as nice.
Hoi An Silk Marina Resort and Spa- Hoi An Silk Marina- awesome resort to relax and recharge by the pool, great sized rooms with balcony and river view, and fabulous location on the Hoi An Peninsula with just a short walk into the Old Town. A little bigger than those we have experienced on our travels so far, and quite busy at weekends when the locals visit for a short break- so if wanting a quiet leisurely breakfast it needs to be done early to avoid the masses at weekend.
Hoi An Silk Marina Resort and Spa:
Red Bridge Cooking School: