A recap of our 4 days in Hoi An, one of our favorite spots in Vietnam! Read on to learn where to stay, where to eat and what to do!Drumroll please…this is the last post from our Southeast Asia trip. And it only took me like 5 months to finish them lol. I thought about skipping over this one and moving right along on to my Europe recaps but this was one of our favorite stops in Vietnam so I couldn’t not share it with you. I’m going to format this post a little differently, organizing it into where to stay, where to eat and what to do. Because really…that’s all we want to know.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed in the cutest airbnb, which was a homestay called Cashew Tree right near An Bang Beach in Hoi An. The beach was a five minute walk away and Hoi An center was a 20 minute bike ride or $4-5 cab ride away. We decided to stay near the beach because we wanted to carve out some downtime during our trip so that we didn’t return from our trip feeling like we needed a vacation from our vacation. Being near the beach allowed us to spend a couple days lounging on the beach and a couple days exploring Hoi An center. It was the perfect balance of relaxation and exploration. However, if you’re only in Hoi An for a couple days or if the beach just isn’t your thing, I’d recommend staying closer to Hoi An center so that you don’t have to worry about biking at night or taking cab rides.
Our beach friend who slept under our lounge chairs.
WHERE TO EAT:
Bahn Mi Phuong for Bahn Mi – Anthony Bourdain visited here when he was in Hoi An. Need I say more?I got mine with egg and Steve got his the traditional way. It was delicious. The bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. They packed in plenty of heat with chiles, acidity with the pickled veggies and umami with the spicy mayo. I thought this one was more flavorful than the one I had in Ho Chi Minh City but Steve claimed he liked the one he had there better. Net, net: they’re both freaking delicious. Morning Glory Restaurant – for traditional central Vietnamese cuisine. Owned by Ms. Vy who has not only a few restaurants in the area, she also is known as a teaching Chef and leads the Morning Glory Cooking School in Hoi An. The food here was really delicious. We sat at one of the small tables on the top patio and it was a fun spot to watch all the action down below. If you’re in Hoi An, you have to try one of their local specialties, the white rose dumplings. They’re made with steamed rice paper and filled with shrimp and/or pork and bunched up to look like little roses. They’re topped with crispy shallots and served with a unique dipping sauce made of shrimp broth, hot chiles, lemon and sugar. It’s a really light dish with clean flavors and I could have eaten like 10 orders of them. Morning glory, also known as water spinach, is a staple vegetable in Southeast Asia. It’s like a cross between spinach and green beans. It’s usually flavored with garlic and oil and always delicious.Another one of Hoi An’s specialities is Cao Lau noodles, which I read we had to try. With Japanese, Chinese and French influences, these thick homemade rice noodles called cao lau noodles are topped with with tender marinated pork, fresh herbs & croutons in a light, delicious broth. The vegetarian version was topped with fried tofu. I enjoyed the dish – it was really different with a sweet flavor profile unlike anything else I’d eaten on the trip.Miss Ly Cafe – our street food tour guide in Hanoi told us about this restaurant and said it was a must-visit. He wasn’t kidding. This was by far our favorite restaurant in Hoi An. They do book up fast so be sure to walk by earlier in the day to make a reservation or get there early to put your name on the waiting list. It’s a family owned and operated restaurant with Nathan, Miss Ly’s husband, operating the front of the house, and Miss Ly in the back of the kitchen. We wanted to order everything on the menu because it all sounded so good; in fact, our server had to tell us that we were ordering too much food for two people lol. Awkwarddddd.Ordered the white rose dumplings again because they’re delicious.Fish steamed in banana leaf – topped with herbs and chiles, it was so good. Shrimp with garlic and onion. This was also mouth-watering even though it sounds pretty simple.Morning glory. Always.The Sea Shell by Nu Eatery – we stumbled upon this super cute place one night right in An Bang Beach Village where we were staying. And when I saw it was by Nu Eatery, I got extra excited because Nu Eatery (which is in Hoi An center) was one of the places Mark, our Hanoi street food tour guide, recommended. I loved the decor and vibe of this place.
And the food wasn’t too shabby either. We started with steamed buns. Steve got the pork belly, pickled cucumber and spicy mayonnaise and I got the braised tofu, peanut butter and shredded green papaya. It was one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth. I then ordered the vegetarian rice which had grilled eggplant, mustard greens and mushrooms. So much flavor for such a simple dish.
WHAT TO DO:
Stroll around Hoi An center – there’s so much beauty in this old fisherman’s town. I loved all the colorful hanging lanterns, the buildings covered in ivy, and the sunsets over the water were unreal.I always love visiting the local food markets on the street too. It’s so fascinating to me to see all the different types of produce they have. You must get some clothes made for you while you’re in Hoi An. We kept hearing during our travels that Hoi An was the place to get a suit custom tailored for a VERY reasonable price. I couldn’t believe how many tailors there are in Hoi An. It’s ridiculous. Luckily, our tour guide in Hanoi recommended a place to us so it helped us narrow down our options a bit. We walked in just to take a look at their fabrics and such and were immediately pulled into the idea of having clothes made for us…even though we were leaving the next day. They work FAST. She was like no worries, we can have them for you later tonight. Wait, what?! I had a couple rompers made, one long, one short and Steve got a suit and dress shirt made! For those four things, it cost us like $115 or $120, which is ridiculous considering how much custom made suits cost in the U.S.! While we were in the shop, a couple from Australia came in and no joke, they visit this shop in Hoi An every year to get a ton of clothing made. This woman came in with a design book and everything. She wasn’t messing around.
That’s a wrap! And if you missed my other Southeast Asia recaps, I’ve got them all listed for you below!
Stay tuned for recaps from Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich and Salzburg! xo