Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Travel: Vietnam - Da Nang and Hoi An

Looking back, these days of the trip were my absolute favourite. Maybe because it was at that point where I'd been away long enough to forget about real life (/even know what day of the week it was) but where there was still enough ahead to look forward to not to have to think about the return to reality. After leaving Hue we drove along the "Top Gear Road" - the Hai Van Mountain Pass, a stretch of road running alongside deserted white sand beaches as it climbs high into the mountains. We stopped for a break and had one of the best coffees of the trip - iced coffee, a hibiscus tea chaser and a chat about all things from Liverpool FC to Kate Middleton with the café owner's son.

After descending the other side of the mountain, Da Nang came into view. The stop at the Marble Mountain was a total surprise -the mountain itself is actually made of marble (as evidenced by the marble shops dotting the roadside selling a diverse range of marble goods) and pagodas, caves and statues have been built on the mountain itself.

We arrived in Hoi An in the late afternoon and our first stop was Bebe tailor - my dad wanted to get a suit made and my mum and I had clothes we wanted copied. The tailors are super speedy and just over 24 hours later the finished clothes were delivered to our hotel! There are loads of tailors in Hoi An but definitely get a recommendation and bargain hard (although as with anywhere, you do get what you pay for...).

We wandered the streets of the old town - cafes, restaurants and clothes shops line the streets and even though it's a bit of a tourist mecca the town has such a chilled out vibe (partly due to most of the streets being pedestrianized - praise be, a break from all the scooters!). Walking along the riverside at dusk was truly beautiful as tourists and locals mingled. We sipped on fresh coconuts although I think we got fleeced paying £3 for two! Watch out with the Vietnmanese currency - at 3000 Dong to the pound its easy to get your decimal point in the wrong place, especially when making quick purchases of street food but given that I pay £4 for a coffee in London I didn't feel too hard done by.

My favourite Hoi An hangout was Hoi An Roastery - with a few branches in Hoi An, free wifi and the best coffee it was the perfect spot for some people watching.

We stayed at the Almanity Spa Hotel - the beautiful poolside was so peaceful and there's a daily yoga session and massage treatment all included. A day spent reading poolside, doing yoga and having a blissful full body massage definitely recharged my batteries after a string of early morning starts and bumpy coach rides.

I took charge of dinner choices again and we headed to Minh Hien - this felt more like a typical vegetarian restaurant, it had a very hippie vibe with the walls lined with books and the tables covered in messages from diners past. The food was amazing - we ordered a selection but particularly loved the banana blossom salad and aubergine cooked in banana leaf.  Vegetarian food in Vietnam is really easy to come by - even in non-vegetarian restaurants the standard of English is good and I easily ordered things like pho and summer rolls without the meat (although a word of warning with pho - unless served in a veggie restaurant the stock is likely to be made with meat even if your portion isn't topped with meat...).

The next morning we left at 7am for our flights to Ho Chi Minh City - one of the few chances of the trip to get a decent outfit photo before the heat and humidity hit. Hoi An is somewhere I'd definitely go back to and where I could stay for far more than two days. I didn't get a chance to visit the beach which was a short shuttle bus journey from our hotel but my dad went and said it was a beautiful, endless white sand beach. I'd have never associated Vietnam with a chill out beach holiday before but I'd definitely be tempted to return for one...

Next up - Saigon!



  1. We spent 12 days in Hoi An for our R&R stretch, it's definitely chilled and we found some great places to eat, but we found that unless you wanted to do full on day trips (early starts, long drives) it's mostly eating and shopping, so you definitely need a decent hotel with nice pool space. We found as well- the recommendations on tailors can be dodgy because everyone is getting a kick back, and therefore you can end up with vastly inflated prices by telling the tailor where you got your recommendation. We had to play hardball to get the prices down to a sensible level, which wasn't that much fun.

  2. Da Nang and Hoi An looks absolutely beautiful, especially the sea view in your first photo. I'd love to visit one day! x

  3. Looks so beautiful! And how cool about the tailor.
    What are the prices like for Vietnam in terms of eating and doing stuff? Ignoring flights, was it an expensive holiday overall? (Sorry to be nosy - you don't have to tell me lots of details I'm just curious!)

  4. Honestly looks so beautiful, I'm going to look in to visiting Vietnam for my next holiday!


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