Hoi An: 27-29 December 2009

My favourite picture: a shop along Tran Phu street

Go to previous leg of the trip - Da Nang: 25-26 December 2009

Day 1: Old/Ancient Town of Hoi An (pronounced as Ho Yen)
A driver was supposed to pick me up at the hotel at 8.30am to drive me to Hoi An. This was arranged by the tour guide (read about him in #1 of my article, The lure of the foreign boyfriend or girlfriend) I met during my visit to My Son Holyland. The driver arrived early at 8am. It took about 40mins to reach Hoi An. The hotel (Thien Trung Hotel. 129 Tran Hung Dao, Hoi An, Vietnam. Tel: 0510 3861720) looks very new from the outside. Some rooms were under renovation. I was shown a room on the first floor. It was renovated - new coat of paint and tiles - but the furniture and bathroom accessories were old.

Thien Trung Hotel room

Thien Trung Hotel bathroom

I asked whether there were rooms available on the second floor but the receptionist said they were occupied. I agreed to take the room for 1 night since the tour guide chose this hotel for me. The room rate was USD15 per night. The receptionist handed me a map and circled a few tourist spots on the map.

I had not had breakfast yet so I walked over to a restaurant a few shops away from the hotel. The place looked "famous" because of a noticeboard with testimonials from customers.

Restaurant noticeboard with testimonials from customers

The food tasted great. Even the plain French loaf tasted good. Or perhaps I was hungry.

Scrambled eggs, french loaf, Vietnamese white coffee

After breakfast, I had some energy to walk around town. You will notice that in Vietnam and Cambodia, I wear T-shirt with sleeves and long pants. I need to be dressed appropriately to enter the temples.

Sign outside a temple

I had some time in the morning to spare before meeting the tour guide so I wandered off to a non-tourist area along Hung Vuong street to the west of town.

Market along Hung Vong street

At first glance I thought these were bras. Actually they are used for putting over the nose and mouth as a shield from the dust

Cute dog at the market

I saw a few children eating this outside the market so I ordered one too. I have no idea what it is but if the children love it, it must be good!

Dessert with red beans. VND10,000

Coffin maker. If there are people living, there must be people dying.

Church along Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

Family of 3 on a motorbike

Many people here keep birds and dogs as pets.

Birds outside a house along Hung Vuong street

Birds outside a house along Hung Vuong street

Birds in the old town

Birds in the old town

Birds in the old town

Outside the old town, there are many tailors. Those are just the shopfronts. The clothes get sewn elsewhere.


Where the clothes actually get sewn

Shoe shops

Dog guarding shoe shop

You do not have to worry about not being able to find a bank or buy snack and pads. There are a number of banks, ATMs and general stores.

A bank

General store. You can buy pads here :P

If you ever get bored, you can buy pirated ones and rent a DVD player

I didn't eat at this chicken rice shop. Looked dodgy.

I ordered beef curry for lunch. The owner asked me whether I'm Singaporean. How did she know? Maybe because Singaporeans always order curry!

Beef curry

The tour guide met me for tea and pointed out a few places in the old town to visit. He also told me that if I wanted to buy anything, it was ok to bargain. He had an eye infection so the had to go see a doctor, therefore he could not take me around.

The entire Hoi An old town is a world heritage site. Hotels are located outside the old town. You can explore the entire town on foot. If you feel tired just sit down and rest in a coffee house or on the benches along the street. To go inside some of the temples and old houses, you have to buy a VND75,000 ticket. Each ticket entitles you to visit 1 of the 4 museums, 1 of the 4 old houses, 3 of the assembly halls, either the Japanese bridge or Quan Cong Temple, to attend a handicraft workshop and traditional music concert (10.15am; 3.15pm, Tue-Sun). There are attendants at the entrances of the assigned places to tear/cut your ticket. Some places don't. If you just want to walk along the streets and enter only the unguarded places, you don't really need to buy a ticket. But for the sake of donating to maintain the place (whatever that means), you are encouraged to buy a ticket. Guided tours are available but it's not free.

Waiting at the ticket booth. VND75,000 per ticket

On the western end of the ancient town is the Japanese covered bridge. It was built in the early 17th century. Japanese traders came to Hoi An during the 16th and 17th centuries so you will find many shops selling Japanese-looking goods.

Japanese covered bridge

Japanese covered bridge

Near the Japanese bridge is the Old house of Phung Hung. It was interesting to see the old architecture and furniture.

Old house of Phung Hung

Old house of Phung Hung

Old house of Phung Hung

This is another old house - of Quan Thang. There is a family living in it. It seems to me like they sell handicrafts and make food to earn some extra money. The family kept saying, "You can look", meaning feel free to look around.

Old house of Quan Thang

Old house of Quan Thang

Old house of Quan Thang

Old house of Quan Thang

Old house of Quan Thang

Old house of Quan Thang


Making white rose (scroll down to the last day to see what it looks like after cooking)

The Central Market is on the eastern end of the ancient town. There were many pretty things sold there but I resisted buying! Costume jewellery like the ones in the picture below are pretty but if I buy them they're most likely going into my jewellery box and never see the light of day again.

Central Market

Central Market

Quail eggs

Helmets selling at Central Market

My sister asked me to buy 3-in-1 Vietnamese coffee. I saw a shop in the Central Market selling it but the seller who spoke good English quoted me VND80,000! I didn't even bother to bargain I just said I didn't want it anymore. I found another shop where the seller did not speak English. He sold it to me for VND40,000 and I didn't even need to bargain.

There are many temples to visit. This one doesn't require a ticket.

Temple of Minh Huong village

Temple of Minh Huong village

Temple of Minh Huong village

Quan Cong Temple

Notice the fish statue on the roof of Quan Cong Temple. When it rains, the fish sprouts water into the pond below

Turtle in pond of Quan Cong Temple

Another turtle in pond of Quan Cong Temple

There are many shop selling souvenirs and paintings in the old town.

Gallery in old town

A topless artist painting his next masterpiece

Barber shop

I saw this pushcart along the street in the old town

I bought a sandwich for dinner. It contained meat, vegetables and chilli. Very tasty and filling!

I did not sleep well in this hotel. There was a fly or mosquito flying around. I turned on the ceiling fan (there was no aircon) and it made a very strange sound. I tried to turn off the fan but just couldn't stop turning. It got rather cold and the blanket was a piece of cloth, i.e. it's not even a blanket. The staff were talking rather loudly or watching TV till midnight. Very early in the morning they started talking loudly again. I knew I had to look for another hotel first thing in the morning.

Day 2: Countryside and Beach

The tour guide brought me to the countryside and beach after my breakfast. I waited rather long for my banana pancake but it was worth the wait.

Banana pancake

Before I met him, I viewed rooms in other hotels and guesthouses. Most of the nicer looking hotels were fully booked. I viewed a room in Nguyen Phuong Hotel (109 Ba Trieu St., Hoi An. 84 510916588 nguyenphuonghotel@yahoo.com) and would have stayed there if I didn't find a nicer hotel across the street, Thanh Van Hotel (78 Tran Hung Dao St., Hoi An. Tel 84 510 3916916. hotelthanhvan2003@yahoo.com www.thanhvanhotel.com). The only room available in Thanh Van Hotel was on the top floor in a place that looks like an attic. It had a sloping ceiling. Still it looked fairly decent and I really couldn't stand the thought of staying another night at the other hotel so I took it.

The room rate was USD14 per night without breakfast and USD15 with buffet breakfast. I dislike buffet breakfast anyway so I paid USD14 (no aircon). 4 computer terminals with internet were provided free of charge.

Thanh Van Hotel

View when I open the door of my room

My room door

I look like a farmer. Just missing a straw hat

Men fishing

We went to the beach, which is about 4km away from town. It was rather cold. It was not the season for swimming. The waves were high. The tour guide said that any type of dressing is allowed at the beach. I was dressed modesty. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to wear a bikini (I did bring it on my trip).

He had to go back to work. He said he would meet me at my hotel for dinner at 6pm. I had lunch on my own at a restaurant across the road from the hotel and then went back to the hotel for a nap.

In the later part of the afternoon, I walked over to the Hoi An islet that overlooks the old town. There are restaurants and a hotel there (AnHoi Hotel. 69 Nguyen Phuc Chu Str, Hoi An City. 0510 3911888 anhoihotel@yahoo.com www.anhoihotel.com.vn). I wanted to stay at that hotel but it was fully booked.

Walk across a small bridge, An Hoi bridge, to get to the Hoi An islet

View of the Japanese covered bridge from the Hoi An islet

Restaurant on islet

Restaurant on islet

Chickens on islet

I spotted a man selling desserts on a motorbike. I bought one, and after eating it, I felt like buying another one.

Desserts on motorbike

I tried this dessert - nice!

I sat at a restaurant to have coffee and enjoy the view of the old town.

View of the old town from Hoi An islet

The thing about Vietnamese coffee is: you need to be VERY patient. You need to wait for the coffee to drip drop by drop. This is what it looks like when it's served:


You have to wait for it to drip till the volume rises to this much:


Check whether all the water has dripped down by opening the top lid:

Wait till there's no water left

Then remove the metal tin and put the lid under the tin to prevent coffee from staining the table

Stir the drink

Ice is provided in a separate cup

Slowly drop in as much as ice you want

Vietnamese iced white coffee

As soon as my drink was ready to drink, it started raining. I had to move to in to a sheltered area. I was glad to be in a dry place enjoying an iced coffee.

Raining in Hoi An

I met the tour guide for dinner. He brought me to a local restaurant. I asked him whether I could pay for the meal this time because he had insisted on paying for the drinks we had today and the day before. He agreed.


Spring rolls. Wrap it up in vegetables and rice paper, then dip into sauce

BBQ Pork and some type of fungus (in yellow)

We had our fill and I couldn't eat anymore. He said it was ok if we couldn't finish the pork. We only have to pay for what we ate. I asked him what was going to happen to the pork that we didn't finish. He replied that I don't need to know! The meal plus drinks came up to only USD2 for the both of us in total - which is super cheap because a meal usually costs me USD2.

It was quiet, considering that the Hoi An traffic is very noisy. I couldn't hear the traffic from the room but at night I could hear the sound of the aircon compressors outside the room switching and buzzing. I slept better here compared to the previous hotel.

Day 3: Check out. Heading back to Da Nang.

The check out time was 11am. I informed the reception that I would be checking out because I knew there were tourists looking for rooms. The housekeeping ladies outside my room asked me whether I needed my room cleaned. I told them I am checking out soon but going to have a shower first. At 11am sharp when I was naked in my room after my shower when they opened the door with their own key. Fortunately, I was blocked by the wall. I had to scream before they closed the door.

When I opened the door, I saw that they had left towels on a ladder outside the room. Dirty!

After seeing white rose being prepared in one of the old houses the previous day, I knew I had to try it. There's this shop that sells only white rose. I ordered 1 plate of it. I was tempted to buy another but I stopped myself from overeating.

This restaurant sells only white rose

White rose

I bought a bus ticket back to Da Nang. The bus departs at 2pm so I had to be there at about 1.30pm.

Buy a bus ticket to Da Nang here

Bus to Da Nang

I planned on staying at the same hotel in Da Nang. But as always, things don't go as planned. Read about the next leg of my trip - Da Nang: 29-30 December 2009.

Cost (est)(in USD / VND). Exchange rate 1 USD = 18434 VND

Taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An VND150,000
Hotel USD15
Breakfast VND35,000
Ticket to Hoi An old town VND75,000
Lunch VND40,000
Dinner VND20,000
Juice VND20,000
Water VND5,000
Internet VND10,000

Hotel USD14
Breakfast VND40,000
Lunch VND20,000
Water VND5,000
Dinner VND50,000 est

Breakfast VND35,000
Lunch VND40,000
Bus ticket to Da Nang USD6

Total USD66

Purse VND10,000
Purse USD1
Bag VND30,000 and 1 pair of sandals VND25,000 which I bought from an old lady who asked me whether I'm a Champ (descendant from the kingdom of Champa). She said I am a very nice girl and kept wanting to touch my hands with both her hands in a respectful manner (no, I was not holding money and I had already paid her for the goods).
2 boxes of 3-in-1 coffee (20 packets each) at VND40,000 each


Anonymous said...

Where is the rest of the KTV story?

David said...


Very interesting reading, great photos, sadly none of you in your bikini!

The French press iced coffee looks tasty. Was is strong as typicl French press coffee?

The food looks absolutley yummy, I think I gained weight just looking.

Great travelogue!


Anonymous said...

Hey Yu-Kym,

Luv ur blog!

I spend most of my time in Vietnam, Hanoi for business.

If you do plan to travel to Vietnam again, let me know. Would luv to show you around in the Capital city of Hanoi and other place else in the north too.



Yu-Kym said...

David, the Vietnamese are conservative but tourists are allowed to wear whatever they want at the tourist beaches.

I feel hungry for "white rose"! I've never tried French press coffee but I suspect Vietnamese coffee might be stronger - I find it stronger than Italian coffee.

Kruger, glad you like my blog! Thanks for the offer. Please drop me an email so that I know how to reach you if I'm going to Hanoi.

Anonymous said...

In a resort-like hotel in one tranquil part of Hoi Ann, I found myself trance-like sitting in the balconey of my room. It overlooked a steady flowing stream of water below me with the occasional "sampan" and its occupants fishing. I watched too the padi fields just a little ahead with the buffaloes and farmers patiently tending to their plots fringed by coconut palms and drainage canals. This complete but simple scene alone captured my attention and occupied hours of my time.

To my amazement, it imbued itself in my memory better than any other during my holiday in Hoi Ann several years ago before the big flood that hit this beautiful heritage town.

A perfect location for the occasional recluse like Yu-Kym to write her next book!


curious cat

Yu-Kym said...

I miss the food. There weren't enough meals in a day to eat everything that I wanted. Too bad it's not cheap to get there from Singapore. No budget airlines.