The next part of our journey takes us to Hoi An for 4 days and then Hue for 2.
The last time we were in Hoi An, November 2017, we got the tail end of the Damrey Typhoon which did a fair bit of damage in its track. We saw the floods in the Ancient Town and surrounding areas and you can read more here
From Saigon we fly to Da Nang a city with over 1 million inhabitants. It is a coastal city with beautiful natural sandy beaches. You can see huge investment from China and South Korea to build 5 star resorts along the beaches and in a few years you can perhaps imagine it being like Miami. A drive through the city and you can see Skyscrapers, fancy bridges and wide streets being built, further signs of how well Vietnam is coming along. Hoi An is about a 45 minute drive from Da Nang.
Old Town Hoi An is an ancient trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The historic district is maintained a few streets back from the riverside and undoubtedly the nighttime illumination of the streets by its colourful lanterns gives it its great charm. At night boats lit up with lanterns sail up and down with tourists and paper lanterns are lowered into the river to give a beautiful perspective.
It is of course heavily commercialised with tailor shops (a particular attraction, there must be about a hundred around the town), coffee shops, restaurants and souvenir shops a plenty, and of course street vendors trying to sell you fruit, or hand made cards, or just posing for photographs for a small fee!
Nonetheless it is a very pleasant experience to wander up and down the streets, visiting some of the historical landmarks like the Japanese Bridge or a Pagoda or an historic house, or just perusing the shops, eating or getting a coffee.
My favourite experiences this trip were:
Just strolling around the Ancient Town, day & night, taking photos and absorbing it all in.
Dining in the Secret Garden Restaurant, a fantastic restaurant hidden in the side streets. Lovely setting and exquisite food!
Eating in Miss Lien Thao’s tiny street restaurant where we met Annabelle and Mike from London. Completely at the other spectrum of dining, where she had 3 long tables and cooked for 30 people on a tiny cooking stove with two rings! But great food.
Visiting the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum.
This museum was a great find, it featured the photography of Rehahn a French portrait photographer who visited Vietnam and who over a number of years from 2011 began taking portraits of Vietnamese old and young. It developed into a project where he drove on his motorcycle around the extremities of Vietnam to photograph all or most of the 50+ different ethnic races that make up Vietnam. He also collected samples of their native clothing, which are now very rare. Many of these costumes now appear in his Museum with portraits of the owners and a short description of the person, their regions and details on how the clothes are made and dyed. It is a fascinating gallery/museum and his photography is stunning and you can see how he makes a connection with person. Well worth a view:
He also has a very good mobile app you can use to get the experience and story without having to come to Hoi An.
We visited Hue for two days and stayed in a lovely resort called the Pilgrimage Village. Initially we intended to just chill out here for Sharon’s birthday but then headed into the Imperial City where we spent a very hot morning, but it was well worth the visit.
Hue of course played a very important part of the American/Vietnam war, where many parts of the Imperial City were destroyed, but now many have been restored.
Photos Hoi An
Photos from Hue Imperial Citadel