Hoi An, What a Charmer!

by Anna

We had read that Hoi An was one of the prettiest little towns in SE Asia…a bold statement! After spending a couple of days there, I can vouch that this is true – at least from what I’ve seen of SE Asia so far.

Although we didn’t luck out with the best weather, the rain didn’t deter us from exploring the lush, colorful streets of the Old Town which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoi An was a major trading port back in the day (15th-19th century), drawing many foreign influences to the area, resulting in the eclectic architecture of the city. The narrow streets lined with oversized palms and ochre-hued buildings gave us the strange sensation of being transported back to France or Spain, while Chinese-style carved wooden shop fronts with mossy tiled roofs and an intricate Japanese covered bridge give the area a distinct Asian flare. The lanterns hung from the trees and zig zagging across the streets and tiny women in conical straw hats grilling Bun Cha on the sidewalk snapped us back to the fact that we were in Vietnam. The combined aesthetics of Europe and Asia made for a unique and fascinating setting. The food followed suit, with stacks of fresh baked baguettes alongside piles of dragon fruit, rice noodles and all types of green leafy herbs at the market along the river.

The market was chaotic and sensory overload. We couldn’t wait to try the new flavors that awaited us in Vietnam. We read on the menu of one of our favorite restaurants in Hoi An, Morning Glory, which “brought street food to the table,” that Vietnamese get homesick without fresh herbs and that dishes strive to achieve a balance between yin and yang. I’m all for this philosophy because all the food that we ate in Hoi An was amazing and has left me with a crispy pancake addiction and Johnny with a Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwich) addiction. We are also both most likely to OD on Vietnamese coffee before we leave the country, because it is so freaking delicious! It is served in a glass topped with a small metal French drip filter, only adding to the anticipation for the first sip as it drips slowly in front of you, the rich scent wafting up into your nostrils. We would switch back and forth between black coffee and white coffee (a sweet delight with condensed milk) depending on our mood.

The market
Vietnamese food philosophy 101 Chicken rice packed with fresh herbs
Banh Mi Pre-stirred “white coffee”
I love you, crispy pancakes De-boning fish steamed in banana leaves

We spent our two days in Hoi An just wandering around enjoying the narrow streets, peeking into the many historic pagodas and temples and pretty craft shops, watching the action taking place in the tailor shops (Hoi An is known as the best spot to have clothes and shoes made-to-order, and the town has more than 200 tailors to choose from!) and of course, eating. Although Hoi An has become a pretty touristy spot, we still really enjoyed our time there and couldn’t think of a more charming introduction to Vietnam!

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3 Comments to “Hoi An, What a Charmer!”

  1. Beautiful picture of you Anna! Julie hopes to have some of these hanging lanterns in her wedding venue tent. It’s neat to see that they are still widely used over there!

  2. Hoi An is one of my favorite spots we traveled through in Vietnam! Found my favorite banh mi cart and cao lau (noodles) there 🙂 Glad you guys liked it there too!

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