Hoi An is one of those cities that people seem to only ever speak about with glowingly positive reviews. Everyone I talked to about Vietnam had told me how much they loved Hoi An and as a result, I was really looking forward to my time there.
Luckily, Hoi An is the kind of place that lives up to the hype – it was every bit as lovely as I’d hoped, and it was the perfect place to celebrate my 25th birthday.
After checking in at our boutique hotel a few kilometres away from Old Town, we picked up some bicycles and made our way in to the little city that I had heard so much about.
On our first night we didn’t go crazy with the exploring, instead we preferred to stroll along the water and soak up the atmosphere before indulging in our first proper Vietnamese meal.
The Old Town of Hoi An was much smaller than I had expected and also, much busier. Normally this would bother me, but actually, it just added to the atmosphere.
For our first dose of Vietnamese cuisine, we found ourselves at one of the most popular restaurants in the city – Morning Glory.
It quickly became obvious why this particular establishment was so in demand… the food was absolutely glorious! For me, the highlight was a kind of rice congee. I hadn’t been feeling 100% and honestly, this congee was like the Vietnamese version of chicken soup – it really did seem to cure what ailed me!
We went to bed that night with extremely full bellies but amazingly, not the kind of full bellies that make you feel bloated and yuck. Vietnamese food is kind of amazing in that it never seemed to make me feel that gross level of full, I just felt pleasantly satisfied.
The next morning, we jumped back on our bikes and made a plan to explore some of the most famous temples in the city; but not before getting slightly distracted by the undeniable prettiness that makes Hoi An so special!
Eventually we made it to our first stop – Quang Trieu, which is more commonly referred to as the Cantonese Assembly Hall.
This colourful hall dates back to around 1885 and was erected by Chinese Cantonese merchants. Amazingly, different parts of this hall were actually built in China and then sent to Vietnam where the parts were properly assembled.
To be honest, the inside part of this hall wasn’t particularly enthralling, but the outer gate was stunning, and the garden out the back was definitely worth a visit.
I am sad to say that I cannot remember the name of the next temple we visited (poor form for a travel blogger) but its outside was decorated with some incredible blue walls, which made for a really pretty photographic backdrop.
After this, we decided to visit one more temple before breaking for lunch. The Fujian Assembly Hall was nearby, so that is where we decided to go! This assembly hall looked quite similar to the Cantonese assembly hall, but amazingly, it dates back to the 1690’s, almost 200 years earlier! It was built as a place for people from the Fukien region of China to come and worship.
The temple was pretty for sure, but I was already starting to get a little case of ‘temple fatigue’, so off we went to Miss Ly Cafe to cool down and fill our bellies.
I had planned to visit all of the temples in Hoi An, but instead, we spent the rest of our time there eating, riding our bikes and getting me some pretty little dresses made at one of the many nearby dressmakers.
I had come to Hoi An with such high expectations and when I have such high expectations they almost always fail to be met, but Hoi An was a wonderful exception to this rule.
Getting to Hoi An: There is no airport directly servicing Hoi An, most people fly to Da Nang and catch a 40 minute cab ride into Old Town
Lotus Boutique Hotel & Spa: This cheap budget hotel provides free breakfast and free bike rentals!
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with the M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lens
Remember: When in Vietnam, eat all the bahn mi your body can accommodate!