Hoi An was high on my Vietnam tick list because so many had recommended it as a fantastic place to see. Other travellers en route raved about it too. When I arrived it’s safe to say I wasn’t immediately charmed. I was warned by the hostel owner about the high number of muggings, which put me on edge and the streets were crowded and dirty but not in a good way (often there really is a good way!) It’s world renowned for its tailoring but when travelling for a long-time that’s just frustrating as I don’t have room to pick up clothes. Meh.
There’s a big traveller drinking culture here with ‘all you can drink’ bars, which will set you back 80,000 – 100,000 VD (£2-£3) for a night’s alcohol. Not what I came to Vietnam for but in the hostel I stayed it was the norm. Having said that I met a really good crowd here, luckily not everyone just wanted to get smashed every night.
I headed to the Old town and checked out the market, friends had bags, shoes and clothes made. Some even showed UK high street clothes and got good replicas made. Back home I’m a bit of a shopoholic but I’m strangely content here with my capsule wardrobe, so I dodged any temptation and didn’t get into conversations with the tailors.
Escaping from Hoi An became a bit of a priority whilst there which is a shame but it did mean I headed out to the Cham Islands for a day’s snorkelling. Being submerged in the South China Sea made me very happy! Wet suit on and skirting around the edge of the islands, spotting very on trend neon fish going about their day is a great way to clear your head. The guys on the boat confidently told me there were no predators nearby but I did spot a sea snake who luckily wasn’t remotely interested in me. We went for a local lunch on a deserted beach and spent a few hours in hammocks in the shade. A fantastic day!
Another trip that’s worth considering is the My Son ruins – unfortunately the guide’s English wasn’t great and all I really took from it was they were built by the Cham people, then the French discovered them and stole all the heads of the figures and then the American’s bombed what was left.
I don’t want to give up on Hoi An and maybe one day I’ll come back and buy a shed-load of clothes, find amazing places to eat, dodge the all-you-can drinkers and think it’s a wonderful place but for now it’s just a tick on the list.