I had heard this phrase so many times, from numerous people- even before I stepped foot in Vietnam. We already had a full itinerary- trying to visit cities in the North and South of the country, and Cambodia in between. With only two weeks dedicated to Vietnam, I just didn’t have time for Hoi An- or so I thought.
After a lengthy conversation with an Aussie couple in Ha Long Bay, they had me convinced- we absolutely had to make time for Hoi An. The decision was spontaneous, and we decided to forfeit our planned trip to Sapa and make a detour to Hoi An instead.
We were in Northern Vietnam in February, and the weather was cloudy and dreary, so we were more than ready to head South again. I am disappointed that we missed Sapa, but the dreadful winter weather had already ruined our Ha Long Bay trip, and we feared the same fate in Sapa.
Sunshine and humid air greeted us when we arrived at Da Nang Airport, and I immediately knew we had made the right decision coming to Hoi An. We stayed at Sunshine Hotel, which ended up being one of my favourite hotels ever. Bright, airy, and spacious rooms with the most amazing breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen- all for a mere $22 per night.
The three days we spent in Hoi An are now a blur of afternoons spent lounging by the beach, biking through town, eating Bahn Mi sandwiches, and walking along the twinkling lantern filled streets at night.
What can I say about Hoi An that hasn’t already been said? The town is so charming and pretty, and there’s something almost magical about it at night when tea lights and lanterns illuminate from almost every shop and restaurant.
Having just come from the crazy motorbike filled streets of Hanoi, Hoi An felt like another world. It was so… quiet. I had become so accustomed to the incessant traffic that I had forgotten what it was like to cross the street without fearing for my life. A random herd of goats being forced down the beach one day was the only reminder that we were indeed still in Vietnam.
There are so many reasons Hoi An stole my heart. The delicious food, friendly locals, the sunshine and beaches, children smiling and waving, shouting “hello!” from their doorsteps, and the the enchanting lantern filled streets- I could go on forever.
The pictures do not do Hoi An any justice. This little town completely exceeded my (already high) expectations and I was devastated when it was time to say goodbye.
A word of warning: do not visit Hoi An at the end of your trip when you aren’t able to extend your stay because it will probably steal your heart, too.