A perfect base for exploring Hoi An’s Old Town – and the local villages beyond.
The third stop on our whirlwind six-day trip to Vietnam was Hoi An: a quaint city in the country’s central region famous for its colourful vibe and UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Similar to Ubud in Bali, Hoi An’s tourist infrastructure has exploded over the last twenty years, firmly establishing the city as one of Vietnam’s top visitor destinations.
Despite this increase in tourism, however, Hoi An surprised us during our visit due to its easy accessibility to remote villages and rice fields. Staying at Hoi An River Town Hotel, we were able to enjoy the best of both worlds: sampling the vibrant cobbled streets of the Old Town, as well as the quiet, unexplored village lanes just across the Thu Bon river.
Hoi An River Town Hotel
After a quick and painless bus transfer from Danang (30 minutes), we arrived at Hoi An River Town Hotel and were immediately seated by the pool and given a welcome drink and snack before check in. Small tokens such as this never go unnoticed, and it instantly warmed us to the hotel – the staff smiling and chatting to us throughout.
Our airy Grand Deluxe room on the sixth floor came with a balcony overlooking both the pool and the river beyond. Two towels, carefully folded to look like elephants, held a flower in their trunks. How cute is that?
The room felt grand without being overstated: a boutique vibe that was rounded off with tiled floors and dark wood. I especially liked going out on to the balcony at various points throughout the day to watch the boats travel up and down the river – the mountains in the distance providing a picture-postcard Asian backdrop.
Breakfast is served
With bright blue skies overhead we came down early (6:30am) for breakfast on both days, sitting at a little table overlooking one of the pools. With so much tropical fruit and juice on offer we were really in our element, enjoying everything we can’t get hold of (or afford) in Tokyo. This was the only hotel on our trip to serve fresh mango during breakfast, as well as rambutan, a fruit similar to a lychee. Constructing our own fruit platter to go in the centre of the table, we also made sure to grab omelettes at the egg station and salads that were infused with plenty of fresh coriander.
We also ate dinner one night at the hotel, a three-course set menu featuring an amazing prawn, mango and coriander salad; caramel pork slow-cooked in a claypot; and a Vietnamese coconut pudding. Sitting outside once again, we able to enjoy the live Vietnamese music that the restaurant hosts twice a week.
The Old Town
Just a few minutes on bike from the hotel was Hoi An’s Old Town – famous for its mustard-coloured buildings and colourful lanterns. It seemed that every street corner was adorned with beautiful flowers, and at times it almost felt as if we were walking in a movie set. The food here was amazing too: we tried Banh Mi at two different places and had the most amazing noodles at a place called Pho Lien. For the Old Town I would say just walk about, explore and get lost. It’s the best way to familiarise yourself with any new destination.
Beyond the river
While on the topic of getting lost, we had an amazing time cycling away from Hoi An, across the big motorbike bridge that crosses the Thu Bon river. (Bikes were provided free by the hotel!) This river is the one that gives the hotel its name, and it seems to be a natural divide between the touristic side of Hoi An and the area’s more isolated, rural communities.
Because we were only in Vietnam for six days, I honestly didn’t think we would get this particular type of rural experience on this trip and so I was very grateful that we did. This is a major reason I would recommend this beautiful hotel to future visitors, and why I would want stay here again myself.
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Images and text © IKIMASHO! 2018. All views expressed here are my own.