Hoi An: the city of lanterns
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After visiting Huế (see article), I decide to take a morning bus paid 90,000 dong (about 4 €) to go to Hoi An: it's only 3 hours of road.
Hoi An is a small city on the central coast of Vietnam, located roughly halfway between Hanoi and the city of Ho Chi Minh. This city was once considered the best port city for the trade of Chinese and Japanese merchants. The influence of these two peoples is observed throughout the ancient city, from architecture to food. The city lights up at night with lanterns, while people from all parts gather and mingle along the river. It is one of the most photogenic and attractive places visited in Vietnam so far.
I stay at the Sunflower Hostel paying 136,000 dong or about € 5 (in the morning it offers a buffet breakfast with many options). The property is located 15 minutes away walk to the old town, 3 km to the "Cua Dai" beach and 7 km to the "An Bang" beach. It also has a swimming pool and various "happy hour" offers every day. It's highly recommended.
Registered in UNESCO in 1999, Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a commercial port in Southeast Asia dating back to the 15th-19th century. It is very nice to walk through the streets of the centre and get lost in the various shops that sell tailor-made clothes or custom-made leather shoes (I decided to get myself some Birkenstock sandals for 15 €).
In addition, if you want to visit the various old houses or the Japanese bridge, you need to buy an admission ticket equal to 150,000 dong which provides for the entry of 5 seats. I recommend it if you are passionate about history
There are many people who decide to take a boat ride after sunset when the river is full of floating lanterns. You really breathe a magical atmosphere here.
The next day I decide to take a rental bike in the hostel for 22,000 dong or 80 cents and going to AN BANG beach where I spend all day long. Moreover, by taking a fresh coconut (paid 30,000 dong), I am able to use a deckchair for free (of course you have to negotiate here like everywhere).
The next day, I rent a scooter for 150,000 dong (about 7 €) to reach the Hai Van Pass (58 km away).
The Hai Van Pass: 19 kilometres of road winding through a mountain fortress, linking Da Nang with the town of Lang Co in the province of Hue.
Until the opening of the Hai Van tunnel in 2005, the Hai Van Pass was the only route vehicles used to travel from north to south in this region. As you can imagine, the tortuous mountain trip, which reached 496 meters above sea level, was a nightmare for trucks and buses. Today, however, it is frequented by cyclists and motorcyclists who want to enjoy a panoramic view difficult to forget and definitely not to be missed!
Starting from Hoi An you must first cross the city of Da Nang (be careful to traffic, here it is really excessive, scooters and cars sprout from all sides) and after about half an hour you get to the highest point of the mountain.
So in total, it takes an hour and a half or something more. Take into account that you will stop several times along the way as there are many pictures to take!
It is therefore hard to advise you how many days to stay at Hoi An. I personally stayed there for 3 days, having a 15-day visa, but it is easy to spend even a week because it is really a city with a particular charm and certainly fascinating.
There are also many restaurants in the city. I particularly recommend Nhan's Kitchen: the food is very good and the staff is super friendly (prices range from 40,000 dong to 100,000).