Eat: There is some great food in Hoi An, and a wide variety as well. We found that food across the bridge on An Hoi Island was cheaper than in the old town area. There is an excellent restaurant called the Red Gecko located on Nguyen Hoang, which we ate at four times. The wonderful owner (who happened to be vegetarian) and her staff all family warmly welcomed us each time we stopped in. The prices here are about a third of those across the bridge, the food is fresh and there is a wide variety of Vietnamese dishes. We highly recommend checking it out!
Stay: We ended up staying in Hoi An for 6 nights and probably could have stayed a bit longer. Our homestay was called Phan NGO Homestay on An Hoi Island and it was just what we had been looking for since entering Vietnam. The owner and her family were absolutely delightful! We were invited to participate in a cooking class one night with the family and also had the opportunity to teach an English lesson to the owners class of 11 year olds. The rooms were comfortable and quiet and at $20-28 a night with breakfast it was a great find.
Bike: Hoi An was the perfect place to bike (although it was quite hot during the day). Our homestay had nice bikes to rent for $1.5 a day and we took full advantage biking around for 3 days. There are great paths along the river and it is safe and easy to bike the 3-5km to the different beaches. We also biked through rice fields and to a fishing village with Bamboo boat tours. The area is flat and many streets are completely empty.
Walk: The old area of Hoi An turns into walking only streets for much of the morning and also the evening. It is nice to be able to walk around and look at the shops without having to worry about scooters and motorbikes. There are lots of old buildings, museums and temples to visit. The area is especially nice at night when the town lights up and the locals take to the streets selling homemade treats and specialties.
Beach: We biked out to An Bang Beach with our friends, The Travel Junkies and enjoyed some beach time. We opted to just sit on the sand, but there are also lots of beach chairs and umbrellas to use if you purchase lunch from a restaurant. The water was nice and cool and felt great after the ride out there. We didn’t make it to the other beach, but heard that An Bang is quieter with far less vendors bothering you. We were there about 3 hours and were only asked twice if we wanted to buy sunglasses. It was relaxing and a nice getaway from the city.
Buy Clothes: Hoi An is best known for its tailors. It is definitely the place to go if you need a suit or dress made. Jason had 2 shirts made and had we not been traveling we both could have gone overboard having items custom-made. You can have clothes, jewelry, shoes and more made for you. You are able to choose from every fabric and color imaginable and the tailors are able to recreate just about anything from a picture or an item that you bring in. We were a bit surprised by the prices and found them a bit high for a shirt or casual dress, but for a full suit or elegant dress the prices where great. Unfortunately we didn’t need either.
We really enjoyed our time in Hoi An and just scratched the surface. There are several day trips around the area as well as lots of cultural activities that we didn’t have time to see. It may be a bit touristy, but we found it had a lot of character.