Hoi An Riverlife Homestay

Hoi An Riverlife Homestay

Looking for budget accommodation in Hoi An? Then find out why Hoi An Riverlife Homestay should be your first choice.

Hoi An Old Town Hoi An accommodation

Sure, everyone is constantly on the hunt for accommodation in Hoi An old town. Why not, it’s charming and popular but it can get expensive! What if we told you about an option that is cheap, comfortable, has river views and offers exceptional service? The Hoi An Riverlife Homestay delivers all those things along with hospitality that is second to none!

Hoi An Riverlife Homestay was suggested to us by another traveler back when we were planning our first visit to Hoi An.

Generally, we tend to lean towards hotels and apartments over home stays. They tend to suit our travel needs better but in this case, we decided to give this one a go and we haven’t looked back.

Hoi An – central Vietnam’s little charm

This happened to be our third time staying at this simple but most hospitable home stay.

Hoi An Old Town Hoi An Accommodation

How we found Hoi An Riverlife Homestay

Back in April this year we planned our first trip to Hoi An. We were living in Da Nang at the time where one of our first Tribe members suggested Hoi An Riverlife Homestay) to us.

We hopped on our favorite accommodation booking site, Hotels Combined. Found it on there and booked it immediately!

(PS: those are affiliate links. You don’t pay extra to use them. By using them you help us earn a small commission that keeps us on the road to tell you about more awesome places like these! Thank you for your support, we appreciate it!)

Where to find Hoi An Riverlife Homestay?

The location is one of the best parts of this home stay. As the name suggests, it sits next to the Thu Bon River on An Hoi island at, 68 Road 18/8, Phường Minh An.

What makes this location so great? Well, you can look for the best accommodation in Hoi An Old Town or stay here where it’s a short walk to both Old Town and the Hoi An Night Market. Tucked away from crowds but close enough to immerse in the action whenever you want! 

Catching a taxi or GRAB from here is super easy too and the hosts will even arrange it if you want.

Hoi An Night Market Hoi An accommodation

Facilities

The Hoi An Riverlife Homestay is almost more hotel than home stay with private and comfortable rooms, a reception area that is open between 7AM and 11PM and they offer secure onsite motorbike parking.

The family do offer an array of activities that guests can enjoy such as:

  • a tradition BBQ with the family, 
  • shopping with the family at the local market, and
  • learning how to prepare a local dish
Ask Chi for more details on those.
Hoi An Old Town shopping Hoi An accommodation

They can also arrange transportation to and from the home stay to most places. These include areas around Hoi An and Da Nang or, as far up as Hue. We’ve used this service before. It’s reliable, cost effective and hassle free.

Another neat feature of this home stay is the rooftop terrace. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cold beverage at the end of the day or a morning cuppa while you wake up with the rest of Hoi An.

Hoi An Riverlife Homestay Accommodations

The home stay consists of two levels with two rooms per floor. There are two rooms with river views and the other two overlook Old Town. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and well designed with foreign visitors in mind.

There are three room types to choose from:

  • Standard Twin,
  • Superior Double, and
  • Family Room

We’ve stayed in both the superior double and family rooms.

Superior Double Room

We happened to stay in the same room on two of our visits and loved it!

This river view room was spacious and light. It also came with an added feature of a small balcony overlooking the Thu Bon river. (Perfect for a cheeky avo vino and nibbles).

Simply furnished with a comfortable large double bed, a small dresser, sitting area and luggage storage.

There was no blanket or duvet in any of our stays, but we found we didn’t need one. We’re pretty sure they will have one if you need it.

The private bathroom was clean and simple with a separate shower, western toilet and basin. Stocked with towels, toiletries (shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste), and a hairdryer.

The room had a large flat screen TV with cable channels, a bar fridge and came with free WIFI.

The Family Room

The family room had all the same conveniences as the superior double with a few key differences.

The main area/room housed two large single beds, a flat screen TV and fridge. It also had double doors opening onto a balcony.

While the main bedroom had a large double bed, wardrobe and its own flat screen TV and balcony.

The private bathroom was also slightly bigger and offered the same amenities. It would easily accommodate up to four guests.

Service

Chi and her family will welcome you with open arms and make you feel right at home. That was the best part of all our stays at the Hoi An Riverlife Homestay.

The service doesn’t stop there either.

You can opt to order a home cooked breakfast and we hear it’s pretty impressive. (We’re always out the door so early and don’t want to bother them with getting up early to feed us.)

If you are not sure what to do in or around Hoi An then then just ask Chi. They have a wide variety of tours, activities and excursions on offer. They are very knowledgeable on the area and offer excellent recommendations.

All you have to do is ask.

How much does the Hoi An Riverlife Homestay cost?

The superior double room cost us VND300,000 (~USD13.00 / ~AUD18.00) a night.

For the family room, we paid VND400,000 (~USD18.00 / ~AUD24.00). (We did get a discount on this because it was our third stay with them in a year and they were showing us some love.)

Either way, we would happily pay standard pricing as it is totally worth it.

That’s it for our stays at the Hoi An Riverlife Homestay

Being greeted with a giant smile and a warm hug every time we stay is what we love most about this home stay.

So, if this is your idea of home-away-from-home, then we highly recommend coming here.

Wondering what else is in Hoi An?

Never been to Hoi An? Don’t know how to get there? Check out our hilarious vlog about getting to Hoi An from Da Nang by scooter and public bus.

Hoi An is an incredible foodie destination and it where we tried our first street food adventure. If you’re looking for a more relaxed and modern options, have a read of our favorite spot to eat, Avos and Mango!

Hope this was of use but if you’re looking for more info on any of our other Vietnam adventures, then try Our Two Cents Page.

Thank you for reading and see you in the next one…

Hoi An old town night Hoi An accommodation

 

Avos & Mango Hoi An

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When breakfast is an unexpected treat, you know you're at Avos and Mango

Strange combination, right? We’ll forgive you for thinking that, but a visit to Avos & Mango will be well worth your time.

You’ll be salivating over their delectable food and drinks menu in short order! All the while planning your next visit and next meal in the process.

We decided to try out this ‘best vegan spot’ in Hoi for breakfast and wished we were in town for longer to try more!

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How did we find Avos and Mango?

This was third visit to beautiful Hoi An on the central coast of Vietnam. After our last visit I noticed these beautiful Insta videos and photos pop up on our feed. Show casing all these interesting and unusual looking drinks and meals. They left my taste buds wanting more.

Sadly, we were a long way from Hoi An by then. We followed their account out of curiosity. Not to mention sheer enjoyment of watching their creations come to life. Hoping we’d be back one day to actually try it out.

Where is Avos and Mango?

It sits within easy walking distance from anywhere in Old Town at 82 Thái Phiên, Phường Minh An and is open from 8AM to 6:30PM everyday.

Our breakfast of champions

We’re not vegan, but we sometimes enjoy eating vegan meals for something different.

Exploring the Avos & Mango menu, we soon realized it’s not purely vegan. Anyone can find something to entice their taste buds here.

Why is Avos & Mango becoming a fast favorite with travelers? Simple. They offer fresh ingredients, well thought out menu options and creative ingredient collaborations.

Then there is the drinks menu. A whole new world on its own.

It starts with the simple and tasteful coffee selection. That extends out to their beautifully created sodas, unique milk teas and yummy smoothies.

There really is something for everyone!

Much to our delight, we found an item called a Western Breakfast, which was right up our ravenous alley.

On our plates of delight were;

  • Toast
  • Egg
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Fresh asparagus, and
  • Fresh green salad with sesame aioli.

It really did taste as good as it sounds.

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To coffee or not?

Leon decided to go with his regular morning choice of ca phe phin (drip coffee). I decided to try something different, called a sugar juice tea.

It was a fusion between sugar juice, a local green tea and infused with ginger and carrot. Delicate and refreshing! A great alternative to Hoi An’s well-known super-kick-ass coffee.

Leon enjoyed his coffee so much he opted for seconds while I stuck to my sugar juice tea.

What did we think of our Avos and Mango experience?

The meal was well prepared, beautifully presented and the service was top notch.

The restaurant itself had a shabby-chic and eclectic feel to it. The decor well thought out for the space and the ambiance inviting and relaxing.

It’s the perfect spot for a slow beverage or vigorous group discussions. You choose.

We were expecting it to be jam-packed, given its popularity, but it was blissfully quiet. The perfect way to start the day.

Cost of breakfast

The Western Breakfast came to VND 80,000 (~USD 4.00 / ~AUD 5.00) each. While the beverages came at VND 38,000 (~USD 2.00 / ~AUD 2.50) for the ca phe phin and VND 35,000 (~USD 1.50 / ~AUD 2.00) for the sugar juice tea.

It was a sensational start to the day but it didn’t stop there either.

More treats!

Avos & Mango also sell other delicious goodies off the menu.

While we were waiting for our meals to arrive, we received two small bowls of nibbles. One contained coconut cake (it looked like square nacho chips). The other treat was sweet dried coconut shavings.

Mmmmm, that coconut cake was an instant hit! It disappeared in milliseconds and we found ourselves fighting for the crumbs too.

The best part is they share the love and you can buy both items from the counter before you scoot out. We opted for the medium bag at VND 45,000 (~USD 2.00 / ~AUD 2.70). There is also a large option to choose from.

Which we did naturally! I tried holding on to them for as long as I could, but a day and a half was the max. (They make great work buddies too hehe).

Also on offer were items like hibiscus flowers, dried citrus, a selection of teas and coffee beans to name a few. All of which make great gifts or just a little ‘from-me-to-me’ treat.

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Hooray for sustainable choices!

The take away experience at Avos & Mango will make you smile from ear to ear too.

No overuse of plastic, hoorah! They have eliminated as much of the unnecessary waste as possible by providing you with reusable tools.

Each take way order comes with a handmade string carry handle and a bamboo straw. Both items are reusable. Can I get a ‘Hell Yeah’ for effort!

But they didn’t stop there! Avos & Mango offer bamboo straws, bamboo spoons, bamboo forks and coconut bowls for sale. Heck, you can even buy the set to take with you on your travels or home as the best souvenir ever.

We bought the bamboo straws for VND10,000 (~USD0.42/ ~AUD0.60) and they are awesome. We’re kicking ourselves for not buying the set. There have already been two instances it could have come in very handy. Learn from us peeps!

Last but not least, they also have a beautiful selection of pottery available to buy. One of a kind pieces that have many uses. Each one with its own character. I would have bought half the shop if given half the chance. LOL!

We got so much more than we anticipated and loved our visit and why we can’t wait to go back on our next visit to Hoi An.

Just so you know, this is not a paid piece. We have not received any compensation for writing this piece. We genuinely enjoyed our visit here and wanted to share it with our Tribe.

Leon and Tash Blog

Want to know how to spend three days in Hoi An? Let's show you!

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…

Hoi An – central Vietnam’s little charm

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Hoi An Vietnam Things to do in Hoi An, things to do in vietnam, vietnam tourist attraction, vietnam history, places to visit in vietnam vietnam tourist spots, vietnam destinations, where to go in vietnam, places to see in vietnam, best places to visit in vietnam

Three days in spectacular Hoi An!

Hoi An is this beautiful town located forty minutes from Da Nang, central Vietnam.  It is as pretty as its name and a feast on the senses.

Vietnam has a rich trading history and Hoi An is no exception. Her history dates back as far as the 15th century. Today she is a well-preserved example of an ancient Southeast Asian port. Did we mention she has a UNESCO world heritage site listed under her credentials?

All you have to do is look at the architecture, people and traditions still practiced to this day. Absorbing the atmosphere and immersing in the culture to is to get a real sense of this gorgeous town.

But she’s not just a pretty face.  The area consists of two main beaches namely An Bang and Cua Dai beaches. There is Cau Dai Bay, and next to it multiple islands dotting the expansive Thu Bon River.

In this blog we tell you what we got up to for our three-day visit to this charming town.

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Best ways to get to Hoi An

This decision was a bit of a fun one for us really.

Leon wanted to go down by bus so he could tick that experiencing off his list. Thing was, we would need BoB (Bucket of Bolts – our rented scooter) while we were in Hoi An. Also, I wasn’t  overly keen on on the bus.

So we decided Leon would grabbed the bus and I’d take BoB down.

Taking the public bus from Da Nang to Hoi An

The public bus system here isn’t overly complicated and Dana Bus does make things easier on us travelers. Both their website and phone app have English versions and are easy to use.  Here you will find all their routes, time tables and fairs.  You can pretty much get anywhere to, from and within Da Nang using Dana Bus.

The bus to Hoi An comes around every 20 minutes give or take so you won’t be waiting long. 

Leon did report a fair bit of road works en route. This didn’t seem to hinder the arrival time too much so no stress there.

Riding a scooter to Hoi An from Da Nang

I on the other hand set off with our nifty 125cc scooter along the coastal road.

Never been to Vietnam? Then we wouldn’t suggest just hopping on a scooter and making your way around. You need your whits about you and some riding experience will go far in keeping you safe.

Leon and Tash Blog

Wondering how to get around Vietnam with relative ease? We'll tell you about all the weird and wonderful ways.

Navigation gone wrong and Google Maps to the rescue

Navigating can be slightly harder here than most other countries. Especially when the map shows you one thing and the actual road signs are completely different. Also, there is no street view here, at all. This makes the task of finding markers along the road a little harder but the journey more interesting.

Part of the experience is loosing your way, no matter where you go.

It was tempting to ride and keep an eye on my phone but I don’t recommend it. Apart from the fact that it’s illegal here, it’s just not smart or safe. You will also need to keep an eye out for others doing it.  Have a look at the vlog below and keep an eye out for the crazy rider zipping in on my right!

How did I get around the problem? I used one ear bud from my headphones to listen to Google Maps.  It was safer than constantly riding and keeping one eye on it. I wouldn’t recommend both ears either.  You still need to listen to whats happening around you.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Crazy motorbike riding in Vietnam!

Are there other ways to get to Hoi An?

Absolutely!  There are a few different ways to get to and from Hoi An.

Another popular option is GRAB. The fair will depend on the time of day day and how many of you there are.  No, it’s not as cheap as catching the bus, but you’ll get there faster . You will also have a whole vehicle to yourself (wink wink).

If you prefer something with a bit more exclusivity, then private car transfers are what you need.  These range from approximately USD 15.00 one way for a four-seater to USD 25.00 for a sixteen-seater.

Do your homework or you could wind up with additional charges, no shows or the like.

Also, your accommodation hosts might offer a return transfer in their services, which are usually private transfers.  Check to see if your accommodation charges include the transfer or not.  That one almost caught us out last time.

Never be afraid to ask the question!

Would you rather visit Hoi An on a set itinerary that you don’t have to think or worry about? Then a tour is the best option for you.

There are plenty of options out there though. So again, do your research and you’ll most likely find an option that works best for you and your needs.

Not sure where to start looking for bus tickets, time tables and the like?

No problem, we've got you covered. Hit search to find  your travel solutions

Affiliate disclosure: The information contains an affiliate links for our travel partner, 12Go Asia. Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!

Is there an airport near Hoi An?

Short answer is no.  Da Nang has both an international and domestic airport and the closest airport to Hoi An. It’s an approximate 40 min drive from Hoi An. 

There are plenty of ways to get between Hoi An and Da Nang, most of of which we mentioned above.

Hoi An Accommodation

There are a plethora of accommodation options ranging from hostel to budget and mid-range hotels, all the way to luxury beach resorts. 

While hotels in Hoi An are a popular choice, the other options available might surprise you. 

Why we chose a home stay

On our second visit to Hoi An we decided to try a home stay.  A fellow vlogger recommended it to us after we set out feelers to our Tribe. (thanks for the great recommendation Ben Freely ).

The family who own Hoi An Riverlife Homestay, are amazing! Chi, the owner is always on hand and very attentive.  The whole family make you feel at home from when you arrive until you have to say goodbye.

Where is it?

The home stay sits on the river side of An Hoi island.  Just is a short stroll to old town. Looking at a map, it may seem like it’s miles away from all the action, but really, it’s not.

Another amazing fact about its location is that it is QUIET!  If you’ve never been to Vietnam, then prepared your ears for the noise assault.  If not, you would know how golden it is to find a spot away from all the ever-present noise.  This is one of those rare spots.

Spoiled much?

On arrival, Chi upgraded us to a large river view room and that was a real treat!

The en suite had a tall shower and there was a king size bed, both great for Leon who is 6’3”. The room was spacious with a couple of chairs, a desk, cable tv and a balcony overlooking the river. Ah yes, and air-conditioning! Essential for that time of year when the heat really sinks its teeth into the region.

There is also a rooftop terrace. Guests are welcome to enjoy it but we didn’t get up there this time round. We had a lantern festival to enjoy!

If you are looking for decent accommodation in Hoi An, we recommend the Hoi An Riverlife Homestay.

Disclaimer: That’s an affiliate link. You wont’ pay extra to use it but by clicking on it you help us earn a small commission that keeps maintain this site and a means to tell you about all the awesome things we see and do. Thank you for your support.

Our stay came to a total of VND960,000 (~USD42.00 / ~AUD58.00) for the three nights. It was well worth it too.

Note though that from the 1st of June high season kicks in. School holidays kick off for two months solid, so prices might skyrocket during that time.

 

 

Travel Tip!: From the 1st of June each year, school holiday kick off for a whole two months.  Expect places to be booked out and prices to skyrocket during this period.

Looking for your perfect Hoi An accommodation?

From chic and shabby hostels to 5 star luxury surrounded by nothing but rice paddies.  Find your perfect Hoi An hotel now.

Affiliate disclosure: The information above contains an affiliate link for our accommodation partner, Hotels Combined. We trust and used them for most of our trip and we are happy to recommend their services (especially since they were so easy to use and found us really good choices too.) Now, you don’t get charged extra for using these links and we may earn a small commission from them which goes towards finding and managing all the awesome content on our site.  You are under no obligation to use these links but if you do use them, we want to salute and thank you for your support, we appreciate it!

Five Must do's in Hoi An

1 – LANTERN FESTIVAL

This was the main reason for our visit.  We’ve heard and seen plenty of excellent things about this festival that happens once a month.  This was the first opportunity we had to experience it for ourselves. What an experience it was.

Our last visit was in January of 2016. Since then the crowd has quadrupled and we’re not sure if it’s the season or because of it’s popularity. Whatever the reason is, it was not the same quaint town we were expecting.

Not that it was a bad thing, we just didn’t expect it.  But we can understand why this festival has become so popular.

What is the lantern festival about?

The lantern festival falls on the full moon of every month.  The biggest celebration being the first full moon after the lunar new year. Sort of like our new years celebrations.

The festival and its tradition dates almost as far back as the history of the town. Locals honor their ancestors and Lady Thien Hau (the lady of the sea), by offering flowers and fruit as well as burning incense. A more modern addition is businesses burning fake money for prosperity.

Walking around old town during a lantern festival is something else! The air is heavy with the smoke and sweet aroma from the offerings. An electric vibe cloaks you as you navigate the streets creating an excited anticipation.

When the sun makes way for the moon

As it gets darker the population of the tiny town swells. The banks of the river and the streets slowly fill with visitors from all walks of life.

At 8PM the town’s lights go out and the festivities start. Colorful lanterns lit with tiny candles drift down the river, promising all kinds of fortune. Sampans filled with visitors gently glide between them. It’s a tide of color and frivolity.

At the southern end of old town, the dragon dancers come out to play. Leading a procession of lively floats navigating their way around the ceaseless flow of normal road traffic.  Ending up back to where they started in old town.

By 11PM the streets start thinning out. Revelers disappear into their favorite watering holes or back to their accommodation. The locals on the other hand, opt for a night of karaoke.

2 – TAILORED CLOTHING

If you’re in the market for some new items of clothing, Hoi An is the place to come.  Tailor made clothes, shoes, bags and much more is one of the things Hoi An is most famous for.

On our last visit Leon had some suits and shirts made and not only were we impressed by what we got and what we paid for it, but we vowed to come back and do it again.

This time round it was my turn for having clothes made and while the experience was the same, the prices certainly weren’t.

Picking what to make

On the wish list there were 2 simple dresses, 1 detailed dress, a simple romper, a swimsuit and possibly a pair of leather sandals.  I decided to keep it simple because we would be travelling light for the next six months and I needed items that would survive living in a backpack and would be practical.

Choose a tailor

So, we set off with a list and map in hand and walked around Hoi An for a few hours to get three quotes from three different tailors.  I chose these three based on the research I’d done the week before as well as seen actual items made for friends back in Da Nang.

I also sat down and worked out a budget for what I wanted to spend on the items, for the negotiation part as I’m not great with haggling and wanted to be prepared as much as possible.

I was in for a bit of a surprise though.

Don’t be afraid to talk money

Across the board, the highest quote came in at USD267 which was for all the items except the shoes, and the lowest quote came in at USD199 for the dresses and romper alone.

The latter was almost double my original budget.  What surprised me the most was the maxi dress.  A plain and simple cotton maxi came in at between USD65 and USD44.  I saw an almost identical design for sale in Han Market (Da Nang) for VND280,000 (~USD 12.00 / ~AUD17.00), so this was a bit of a shock.

And before you go shouting at me that it’s custom made, I get it.  But I’m 5’4” and the only ‘design’ on the maxi was the waterfall trim at the top of the dress.  Nothing fancy and certainly not what I would normally spend USD65 on.

After I’d gotten all the quotes I sat down to a smoothie to work out if it was viable to have the items made.

Be prepared to walk away

In the end I decided not to have anything made as the prices were just too expensive, especially for items destined to live in a backpack for six months.

We will be going past Hoi An again later in our itinerary (and closer to an upcoming family event), I’m saving my money till then to have something special made I think.

Also, the difference between my experience and the happy shoppers is that we ‘live’ here, it’s not a holiday and we have to be budget conscious. Had this been a holiday I probably would have negotiated a bit more and bought the whole lot.

Some more tailor related wisdom

Do your research on tailors (there are hundreds of them!!), see if any of your friends or travel tribe has had stuff made to get an idea of quality and price.  Do remember though that each experience is unique too.  One person might love them and others not so much.  Look closely at review photos.  Also, if it comes in super cheap, you might not get the quality you are hoping for.

If you excel at haggling, great!  If negotiations aren’t your strong point, expect to pay more or get brave and remember, have a budget and stick to it!  In the end you have to decide if you will take the leap or walk away.  You don’t have to have it made.  There are plenty of other places to get clothes.

The good ‘ol tourist trap trick

I tried try a couple of the ‘off the rack’ shops in Hoi An for comparison and again it was a bit of a letdown.  I was looking at simple cotton shorts, which are everywhere here.  At the markets in Da Nang you can get them for around the VND50,000 (~USD2.15 / ~AUD3.00) mark if you buy more than two.

The Hoi An shopkeeper tried it on at VND420,000 (~USD18.00 / ~AUD26.00) for one pair of shorts and there was no way I was handing that over.  I asked her the price for three and she stuck to her guns.  I stood up and explained that I could get them for cheaper in Da Nang and the price came down to VND150,000 (~USD 6.50 / ~AUD9.00).

It’s completely up to you as to what you are prepared to hand over but always haggle, it’s worth it.

I didn’t buy the shorts because I know I can get them cheaper back home (Da Nang) and instead kept exploring old town.

There are cheaper options at the Hoi An Markets but negotiating can be tougher here.  One vendor ended up chasing us down the road! That was after simply asking about a bag and we had to fight our way out of the conversation.  It wasn’t terrible, but it did make us rethink the idea or going back.

Good luck!

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3 – EXPLORE ANCIENT TOWN (OLD TOWN)

Hoi An really is a beautiful and charming place to explore.  A lot of effort has gone into keeping the town as original as possible. Not easy when they are also trying to balance the demands of modern tourism with conservation efforts.

Entry fee

To preserve the town in all it’s glory you will need to pay an entry fee to get into the ‘old town’ part but it’s only VND120,000 (~USD5.20 / ~AUD7.30) and worth it. The ticket is valid for 24 hours too so once you pay you can can come and go as often as you want in that period.

There are 13 places of historic interest to visit and your entry ticket gets you into five of them (happy clap!).  The rest charge a small entry fee and it differs between them.

You can pay the fee at the yellow booths found around the perimeter of old town and the attendants are very friendly and helpful.

Pockets of gold

We’re always on the look out for a coffee shop or restaurant with a second storey. Most people seem to miss the upper floor(s) and that’s where the gold is. 

They are usually small spaces but there are few to no other people up there meaning you have some peace and quiet to enjoy your beverage. I should also say that this is mainly because there is no air conditioning in most of the shops as it’s not always practical, but there are plenty of fans and they do help cool you down.

The other thing that makes finding these nooks and crannies worth it, is the view!  You get the full experience of ancient trading town looking out over the weather worn rooftops with no street or bodies in site.

Loose yourself in the labyrinth

There are a gazillion alleys to explore too.  The alleys are mainly for local traffic and people who live there. If you are keen to explore though, you might find a hidden gem or two.

Fair warning, a lot of the alleys end abruptly on someone’s front door. Most encounters ended in lighthearted laughter, others not so much. Just smile and walk away (wink).

4 – PLAY BAI CHOI (VIETNAMESE BINGO)

This might sound like an odd thing to say but trust us, it’s a ton of fun and you don’t need to understand Vietnamese to participate.

Simply grab an available seat, buy a paddle or two from the friendly attendant for VND20,000 (~USD0.90 / ~AUD1.20) each and wait for the show to start.

A cute older gentleman with a mischievous grin will start an enthusiastic song followed by a fellow female performer. During the singing the attendant will draw board with a name and picture. They will then parade it through the crowd. If you have the same picture/name combo on your paddle, let the attendant know and she will give you a little yellow flag.

If you get three flags, you win a prize at the end of it.

Based on folklore, the songs are almost as ancient as the town itself. Each song is brief and tells it’s own story. Sadly we braved this activity without a friend or local to help interpret them so if you know what they are about, please share them with us.

5 – THE NIGHT MARKET

Ever seen the photos on social media of people with wistful looks standing in front of a sea of lanterns? The night market is where you will find that scene and it is as magical as it looks on photos.

The markets run between 5 – 11PM everyday during the summer months and 6 – 10PM during the cooler wet season.

On offer is everything from lanterns to trinkets, colorful local garb and a ton of street food options (more on that next).

The atmosphere at the night market is so electric and leaves you with a giant grin for most of the time. Other times you are cursing the crowds and never ending flow of bikes and traffic fighting their way through the people. Despite that though, it’s always fun to go and see, even crowd watching from one of the rooftop bars is fun!

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What to eat and drink in Hoi An

BELOVED BANH MI

Banh mi is king of fast, delicious and cheap food anywhere in Vietnam! Hoi An is no exception but we did find an interesting battle of the banh mi’s going on here.

In one corner there is the celebrity endorsed superstar with a cult following of salivating crowds lining the street almost everyday versus the charming lady with a history rich in family traditions.

The celebrity endorsed Banh Mi Phuong

Location: 2b Phan Chu Trinh, Cẩm Châu

We’re not foodies but we love food and know who Anthony Bourdain is. So, when we kept seeing this Anthony Bourdain endorsed banh mi pop up on social media feeds, we decided to go check it out.

That endorsement was about five years old and we had no idea what to expect.  The reviews on multiple platforms indicated that it was still there and popular. What we weren’t sure about was if it was hype or actual good food driving the reviews.

None the less we set out to find Banh Mi Phuong and try it for ourselves. 

We loved it and here’s why.

When we got there, there was no line (it gets crazy busy and the line can go down the road). Nor was there a clear indication on how to go about getting one of these delicious treats.  With no maître d to welcome you and nothing to tell you what to do it can be confusing.

It turned out to be pretty simple.  You rock up, you wait for a moment to get in there and then throw your order verbally at the people on the other side of the food counter.  There’s no eye contact or confirmation forthcoming from the other side so don’t wait for any.

Before long, we had two banh mi’s in our hand and looking for a place to sit and eat them. They smelled so good!

There are tables and chairs inside the restaurant but you have to fight to get a seat.  Or you can climb the stairs at the back and have a whole upper level almost to yourself.  The balcony is the place to go as you can enjoy your meal and watch the crowd on the street below.

With about thirteen choices to pick from, Leon went with the works and I got a BBQ.  Oh man they were so delicious!  I told Leon I was happy we live in Da Nang because I would be here every day! 

The bread was crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  The meat cooked to perfection, melting in my mouth.  The pate was homemade and the herb salad had this amazing dressing on it.

It was crisp and sharp cutting through the smokiness of the meat. And they certainly didn’t skimp on the filling, it was a very satisfying banh mi and we highly recommend Banh Mi Phuong!

Coming in at a very cheap VND20,000 (~USD 0.85 / ~AUD1.20) it’s a great way to fill up for the day.

The family favorite Madam Khanh (Banh Mi Queen)

Location: 15 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An

We had to try the second most recommended option too. For comparison of course.

Madam Khanh, better known by her actual name, Loc, has been selling banh mi for about fifty years and has had her shop for about thirty of those. She might be a tourist favorite now but she she has been a local favorite for eons!

This experience wasn’t as much fun as Banh Mi Phuong but we still enjoyed a delicious banh mi here. 

We’ll admit, the process was a lot easier! The location is in a much quieter part of town and it’s easy to spot the shop. Again you can opt to order and run or grab a seat inside the shop.

We simply rocked up, grabbed a seat and ordered a banh mi and fresh juice each.

For the same price there were fewer options on offer but it’s quality over quantity here. These banh mi’s had a tad less filling in them but the homemade pate more than made up for that. It was a standout feature for sure.

The bread was fresh and crispy with just enough dough to soak up all those delicious juices! The veggies were fresh and crisp which was nice. The pate and egg version was a heavenly combination with the hot egg melting the pate into the bread. It was so good we were licking our fingers clean and thought about licking the plates too!

We were glad these banh mi’s were on the lighter side. Still full from breakfast, filled the last bit of hole perfectly making them a good light meal.

Madam Khan’s has a more convenient location so if you’re just after a cheap n tasty banh mi at a decent price, then this is the spot to go.

OTHER DELIGHTFUL TREATS TO TRY

Trust us, there is more than banh mi on the menu and Hoi An is world famous for her exquisite cuisine options.

Some of our favorites include,

Ban Xeo

Lip licking light rice pancakes that come with an assortment of fillings. Perfect for all tastes

Cao Lau 

A super tasty and flavorsome dish of dry rice noodles with veggies and slow cooked pork.

White Rose Dumplings

Delicate rice flour dumplings with shrimp filling, accompanied by a good whack of chili dipping sauce. Hoi An’s signature dish and must try! 

Pho

You can’t go wrong with this Vietnamese staple and there are plenty of great pho’s to be found all around Hoi An.

But wait, there’s more!  The night market is a treasure trove of delights but we’ll get to that shortly so, keep reading.

Special mention!

If you’re looking for an eatery with a good fusion of Western and Vietnamese options that has a sensational vibe and eclectic decor then we have just the place for you. Avo’s and Mango won us over with not only an incredible breakfast but they have some super yummy treats on offer too.  See the link below for more!

Leon and Tash Blog

Find out why Avo's and Mango in Hoi An should be your daily breakfast hangout!

HOI AN STREET FOOD AND WHERE TO FIND IT

On our second night we tried the night market.

The stalls stretch the entire length of Nguyen Hoang road on An Hoi island. It’s on every night rain or shine and you can buy different kinds of foods, neat souvenirs. It is also THE place to go if you’re in the market for beautiful silk lanterns.

Some of our favorites were,

BBQ Pork Chop

For the first option we tried a simple pork chop cooked over hot coals and served with the local popular chili sauce.  This was Leon’s favorite as there was plenty of fat and crackle no sink his teeth into.  I didn’t mind it but probably wouldn’t rush back for it. We paid VND 50,000 (~USD 2.15 / ~AUD 3.00) which was a little higher than expected but it did cover two of us and it was technically our starter.

Taco Xeo (what now?)

Next, we tried a Vietnamese taco hybrid called taco xeo and it was delicious.  The taco shell, made of rice flour instead of corn flour was a nice change. The filling was a balanced mix of traditional taco fillings, made with a Vietnamese twist and for VND 35,000 (~USD  1.50 / ~AUD 2.10) it’s a cheap and satisfying meal.  Also, if you buy two, you get one free.  Not a bad deal we say!

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Something smells fishy

Our next selection was going to be a bit of challenge since neither of us are seafood lovers. We saw this treat on a vlog about the food at this very night market.

What had us so intrigued?

The deep fried, soft shell crabs.  If you are a seafood lover they might be just the thing for you.  While we didn’t dislike them, we wouldn’t rave about them either.  We had a couple bites each and then donated the rest to a local watching us film our vlog. This one was more expensive at VND 50,000 (~USD 2.15 / ~AUD 3.00) but it didn’t go to waste in the end and we’re happy with that.

Did someone say dessert?

It was finally time for the sweet stuff, but first we had to complete another challenge.

The dreaded durian fruit

We’d heard of the infamous durian fruit and its smelly rep but never had any interest in trying it. Then we found out that we could side step the smelly part by trying it as an ice cream.  That’s because the process destroys some of what makes it smelly.  After reading that, were were like, why not?

It was surprisingly pleasant! At the end though we could taste what the fuss was about. The last mouth full wasn’t as pleasant as the first but we’d eat it again if we spotted it.

Vietnamese street ice creams are different than average ice block back home but at VND 10,000 (~USD 0.40 / ~AUD 0.60) they are a very tasty and cheap treat.

Banana pancakes, street style

Next, was another well known local treat. The banana pancake.  This isn’t new to us, but we felt like one so tried the Hoi An street version of it.  It had a crepe consistency, was light on the inside with plenty of banana and a nice crispy shell.

Ours came with chocolate and condensed milk drizzle and cost VND 20,000 (~USD 0.80 / ~AUD 1.20). Another ‘highly recommend’ from us.

We don’t know what it’s called but it’s delicious!

The last item on our DIY street food tour was another treat we saw on a The Best Food Review Show video. Something called a taffy sandwich.  Not sure of it’s actual name, but if you do, please share it in the comments. We’d love to know.

This lovely old man had a rig on the back of his bicycle and was standing over back towards old town by the Song Hoai Square. We headed over as soon as we spotted him, eager to try his treat.

It’s mesmerizing to watch. He grabs a bit of clear looking toffee, wraps it around is fingers, dips it into powdered sugar, stretches it again and repeats the process.

After about 30 seconds, he has worked the toffee into the consistency of fine hair like strands and then spreads it over a thin wafer disk, drizzles condensed milk over the top, then slaps another wafer disc on top and sends you on your way.

One of the best things we had all night!  If you’re in Hoi An, go find him, he’s worth the visit and it’s only VND 10,000 (~USD 0.40 / ~AUD 0.60)! Total bargain and we look forward to trying it out on our next visit.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Getting our eat on at the Hoi An Night markets!

COFFEE, GLORIOUS COFFEE!

It’s no secret that Hoi An is a coffee lover’s dream! With a million options to chose from, we’ll save you some time and tell you about our favorites!

Coconut Coffee at Cong Ca Phe

This might seem like an odd pairing but it’s absolutely delicious and we’ve come across very few people who don’t like this delectable beverage slash semi-dessert. Be aware that it can become totally addictive!

Think of a luscious sweet and creamy sorbet topped with a shot of espresso (Vietnam style, naturally!) and you have the best thing since sliced bread!

Hoi An has a Cong Ca Phe (inventor of the coconut coffee), and they are our most loved coffee chain in Vietnam. Location: 64 Công Nữ Ngọc Hoa, Phường Minh An

Don’t believe us? Go and try it for yourself, but make sure it’s a Cong coconut coffee or you might be disappointed. Also, their coconut cacao smoothie is to die for!

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Dark Soul Latte at The Espresso Station

We see that confused look and we had the same one when we heard those words together.

The Espresso Station is this funky cafe tucked away in a quiet alleyway and perfect for catching your breath between shopping and sightseeing.

Location: 28/2 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An

They have an amazing range of beverages to explore. Our favorites are by far the pink latte made with beetroot and the dark soul latte, made with activated charcoal. Both taste better than they sound too! Oh and they have a killer coconut coffee too. Whaaat?! Options are good, right?

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Vietnam’s famous Egg Coffee

We’d heard about this egg coffee before and while our taste buds were protesting the idea, we had to try it out.

We’re not sure if it was the shop we chose or what happened but the egg coffee was a bit of a letdown.  It was like having wet omelette sit on top of your espresso.  We were missing the sweetness, that’s for sure. There was a promise of condensed milk and sugar on the menu but we couldn’t taste it at all, and it wasn’t pleasant to drink.

Leon ended up asking for some condensed milk to add to it. While that made a world of difference, it didn’t save the drink. By then the egg had started to cook in the heat of the coffee and we ended up with these clots of scrambled egg. It just wasn’t happiness.

If you have a hankering for egg coffee we suggest waiting until you get to egg coffee mecca, Hanoi. It’s worth it, trust us! (We’ll elaborate in detail in an upcoming blog.)

Leon and Tash Vlog

When egg coffee goes wrong! Check out the stank face on Tash!

Technically not coffee but so worth trying

Another  one of our Hoi An favorites is the exquisite Bird House cafe.

While the view is a crowd pleaser and we’re sure their coffees are too, what makes this place amazing is their selection of lush smoothies.

Each one is a masterpiece and you just don’t want them to end!

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Scams and nefarious things to watch for

You’ll have a great time in Hoi An and we did for sure.  Like most foreign places though, you need to be aware of things going on around you.  Here are a few things we experienced or heard from fellow travelers.

Fruit Vendors

Usually they are nothing to be concerned about other than negotiating a better price for your bananas or mangoes. Lately though, it seems some sneaky tactics from the bigger cities have made their way to Hoi An.

These ladies will walk up to ask if you want fruit. If you say no, they will ask if you want to take a photo carrying their fruit baskets. This is where it gets ugly.

If you want to take a photo, great, go for gold,  BUT expect to pay for that photo. You will either have to buy fruit at an inflated price or just hand over cash. 

Oh and the negotiations start after the photo is taken.

Usually on your phone which is now in their hands and they’re not giving it back till they get something in return.  We’ve not seen anybody come out of the situation with a happy expression, hence why we mention it.

Also, saying ‘no’ means nothing and you need to be vigilant.  They will just walk right up to you and throw the fruit rig on your shoulder whether you want it or not. Then stand there and demand you pay for the privilege.

We had a similar experience on this visit. The vendor made her way to me (standing next to a crouching Leon taking photos) and I had to actually run around Leon to get away from her. All while being very forceful with my ‘no’.  It wasn’t pleasant and I felt uncomfortable being so short with her but being polite was getting me nowhere either.

So, make sure to keep an eye out.

Overpriced bus tickets

The standard bus fare is around VND 17,000 (USD 0.75 / ~AUD 1.00) but it’s common for the drivers to ask for VND 20,000 (~USD 0.85 / ~AUD 1.20) and most locals don’t stress about paying this bit extra.  Where not sure what the extra is for but we’ve read and seen some interesting experiences from other travelers.

We found stories of foreigners paying VND 50,000 (~USD 2.15 / ~AUD 3.00) just for being, well foreign. Or it’s an “extra charge for their luggage”.

Then there was the story from a Vietnamese traveler which surprised us. 

He was explaining the fair difference to a foreigner who didn’t understand.  He simply repeated what he heard the bus driver say to the girl in English.  The driver then became angry, accusing him of telling the foreigner she was prey to a scam. He then went as far as getting some locals at their destination to harass the man and his girlfriend. All the way to their hotel!

The poor Vietnamese couple had to call the police in the end.  To top it off, he received a barrage of negative feedback from expats who had missed the point of the story all together.

I don’t blame this man if he turns a blind eye next time.  But find it sad to read about.

Regardless, don’t be surprised to pay more than expected.  Also, don’t expect change and don’t hand over large bills.  Make sure you have the correct amount as you won’t get anything back.

Feisty Street Vendors

Everybody needs to make a living and we get that, we’re in the same boat after all.

What we did find tiresome having to constantly fight off all the street vendors. It felt like a never ending song of ‘no thank you’ a million times. There is no escaping it, unfortunately.

‘You want boat ride?’ The one question you will get sick of quick. Unless you do, then you’re fine.  The lantern sellers are out in force too and then there are the people selling nick-nacks, toys, etc. Consider this a warning.

Also, on the lanterns.  They look amazing slowing drifting down the river in all their illuminated glory.  And that’s cool, but if you love this country and want to help preserve its beauty, please consider the following.

They are purely there for tourists and they are not actually part of any tradition that we can find. Nor will you see locals doing it.

It’s just a means of income for locals and a bit of fun for tourists.  We definitely don’t want to take away from that either. All you have to do is look at the river the next day to realize it’s not worth it.

Seeing hundreds of lanterns decaying on the river bed is not fun. Less so when you realize you’ve contributed to the issue.

There are plenty of other ways to support the locals. Trashing their backyard is probably not the best way to go about it though.

Don’t let the slightly bad stuff put you off though.  This is an amazing destination to come and visit and she will knock your socks off!

There is so much beauty and culture condensed into this town. She will take up a piece of your heart and never give it back.

She is fun, colorful, surprising and memorable, leaving you wanting more!

That’s it for our three day visit to Hoi An. Hope you enjoyed the read and feel free to share your questions on comments with us below!

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