We took the night bus which left Nha Trang at seven o’clock in the evening. It cost 230k VND and would take about 12 hours.
The currency in Vietnam is Vietnam Dong (VND). As 1€ is already 25.000 VND the prices are mostly shortened with a ‘k’, which means ‘thousand’. So 25.000 VND is the same as 25k VND.
When we got to the bus, there was this totally insane bus company worker who was yelling all the time and seemed to be quite crazy. He turned up the volume of this horrible techno music, which they are listening to most of the time in Vietnam. Their taste of music is quite strange, I think. When it got dark outside we could find a little sleep, which you are always very thankful for in such night busses. We arrived in Hoi An city center eventually at 7 o’clock in the morning – pretty much on time, which we weren’t used to by travels through South-East-Asia. But Vietnam seems to be very organized when it comes to travelling with busses.
We booked three nights in the VIP Garden Homestay, a nice little house nearby the Ancient Town in Hoi An. The owner welcomed us warmly and we got to our room just 15 minutes later, which was quite good, as the check in time is mostly at noon. It was a beautiful, clean and cold room (which you really learn to appreciate in such countries) with a nice terrace which lead into a small garden with palm trees. For the whole three nights including breakfast, which was really delicious and quite a lot, we paid about 50$. They also have bikes and bicycles to rent for a small price. I had a bicycle for 30k VND for one day.
Hoi An Ancient Town
We had seen many pictures about the Ancient Town before and in real life the town is as beautiful as you can see in every travel guide. Old houses, tiny streets, beautiful restaurants and lanterns everywhere. I need to say that Hoi An is probably the most beautiful town I’ve ever seen – especially in the night time when the colorful, different lanterns are lighting up the streets and create such an atmospheric scenery. It reminds me of the Italian city Venice – I’ve never been there, but it’s supposed to be as beautiful as Hoi An Ancient Town.
As you can imagine the shops and restaurants there are quite expensive. If you are looking for reasonable prices you should rent a bike an pass the Ancient Town. You’re gonna find the local market behind it, where they sell fruits, vegetables and even clothes or souvenirs. Never forget to bargain as most of the prices they tell you are probably twice as high as they are supposed to be.
If you’d like to have a cheap meal you should always go for the street food you can find everywhere in Vietnam. Mostly the staff isn’t able to speak English but the communication normally works out either way. There is a well-known and absolutely delicious place in Hoi An called Ba Le Well. It’s not far away from the center, you can easily walk there. It’s very crowded most of the time as the food is so good and the price you pay is very reasonable as well. You just order some drinks and then you get every food they have. Spring rolls, rice pancakes with soy sprouds, pork sticks, different kind of sauces, salad and rice leaves to wrap your food in it, so that you can dip it in the different sauces. You eat with your hands which additionally is great fun. The staff was very nice, when I told them that I’m vegetarian they immediately brought me some vegetarian food and some absolutely delicious, fried noodles on top. The table was just full of food, we couldn’t eat everything. I paid 90k VND for the meal and 25k VND for a glass of red Dalat wine.
We also tried the Indian restaurant Ganesh which is very close to the center as well. If you love Indian food you should definitely go there. The prices are a little bit more expensive but compared to Europe quite reasonable. Currys vary from 60 to 90k VND, Raita 30k, Naan bread 25k and Lassies will cost you about 40k.
If you are searching for traditional but high class Vietnamese food you should definitely go for the Secret Garden, which is really secret indeed. It’s not that easy to find but with Google Maps or Here it should work out. The restaurant is situated, as you guess by the name, in a little, cosy garden. They have open air cooking classes there and an open kitchen, so you always can have a look at what they are doing. I ordered a glass of rice wine, produced in the Mekong Delta, which cost 77k VND, which is quite expensive for 100ml of wine. Then I had a vegetarian curry with eggplant and potatoes for 60k VND and the famous Morning Glory with whole pieces of garlic which cost about 40k VND.
Morning Glory is a very popular and delicious side order in Vietnam. It is water spinach with either pork or garlic on it. You eat it with a little bit of soy sauce. It’s mostly a side dish but with rice it can be a main dish as well.
Besides walking through the streets of the old town and enjoying the scenery, there are many other things to do in and around Hoi An. There are many different bicycle tours they offer, cooking classes, photo workshops or other tours. The cheapest way would be to rent a bike or bicycle and explore the surroundings. You can easily cycle to the An Bang Beach which is the better choice than Cua Dai Beach where really annoying beach vendors will disturb you all the time. There are some at An Bang beach as well but not so many and you have them everywhere in Vietnam. When you arrive there, you should go for the right side of the beach and walk almost to the end as the cots will only cost you 20k instead of 50k.
When you like to see the Marble Mountains, which I really recommend, then take the yellow local bus and tell the driver you want to get out next to the mountains. It is about 1 hour drive and cost you 20k VND. We weren’t really lucky with the guy of the bus company and he let us out in Da Nang city center which is already too far. So we needed to take a taxi to the mountains which cost 160k VND, so this was quite an expensive ride. The entrance fee is about 30k and if you’d like to go up by elevator another 30k. The area is stunning. You have these different caves everywhere. Some of them are quite huge inside, which you wouldn’t expect from outside. One has a very tall Buddha statue and different altars in it. The tranquility and atmosphere just overwhelmed me. I was sitting inside for quite a long time and enjoyed the scenery. I must be a good place for meditation, I guess.
The other day I booked the sunrise tour to the UNESCO world heritage My Son.
With The Sinh Tourist the tour cost 159k and you need to pay an additional 100k for the entrance fee. That was the cheapest one I found.
The bus picked me up at 5 o’clock in the morning. We arrived an hour later at the sight, the sun was already rising and put the place in a beautiful light. The guide told us everything about the different temples, the destruction through the war and the effort they need to make to rebuild all the buildings. His English wasn’t that good, but he was a friendly and funny guy which made the tour very enjoyable.
If you are travelling Vietnam, Hoi An should be on your list of destinations. It was really worth it going there and I enjoyed my stay a lot.