With French colonial arcitechture, tropical beaches and ancient bridges that beg to be photgraphed, this city is stacked in charm. How can you be anything but blissful in a city that, in its entirety, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yes, the whole city. I didn’t know they could do that until I visited Halong Bay, a formidable giant of a UNESCO site.
The catering to ex-pats and touristis In Hoi An is overwhelming but I forgive it all as I am unabashedly enjoying the ease with which I can experience this city. The catch phrase “travel like a local” comes to mind. There are simple ways to sample what Hoi An has to offer with confidence that the money goes straight into the pockets of the local tour organizers, shop or restaurant owners. I like that. Just enjoy the tourist-y amosphere because, face it, you love it. The economy of Hoi An has long depended on its desirability to foreigners.
Some prominent voices in the budget travel bolgosphere have expressed their distaste for Vietnamese people charging toursists a higher price than the locals. This is not a scam or a slight. In my opinion, that’s fair play. I can always say, “no” or negotiate further. More importantly, why argue over a few extra dollars for an already profoundly inexpensive item that I really want or need? Admittedly, we are budget concious travelers who need to track our spending and take advatage of the cheaper price of food and lodging in order to continue traveling. Still, I don’t feel entitled to pay as little as possible under any circumstance. Another blogger labeled the entitled travelers who labour under this delusion, “douchpackers.” I’m not saying I have the right to pin this label on anyone or that I’ve never been guilty of this myself, but let’s all agree to try and curb our douche-y-ness when visiting other people’s homelands. If you need to haggle aggressively to feel good about a purchase, learn the language and speak it repectfully and confidently. Now is your chance to practice your Vietnemese. Pay what the item or service is worth to you and give more when you can, or just stay home and stop complaining!
There are cars, scooters and motorcylces (honking incessantly to prevent a crash) but in Hoi An, the favored method of transportaion is the humble bicycle. Some streets allow only bikes and foot traffic with (no motorized vehicles).
For ambiance, charm and ease of navigation for tourists, Hoi An can’t be beat. It is hands down the prettiest town I’ve ever had my bike stolen in. I assume someone desperately needed the money just as I always assume when I get robbed. It keeps me sane and a lot happier :).
Possibly the best thing about Hoi An is the food. I could eat handmade spring rolls and Cau Lau everyday. Cau Lau is a bowl full of the most delightfully contrasting flavors, colors and textures. It has fresh, handmade, (perfectly al dente) rice noodles, pork slices, piles of fresh greens and herbs, crispy wontons, and a good amount of fish sauce and fresh pepper. They say that the only authentic Cau Lau is made with water drawn from the Ba Le Well in the center of the city. All others are just a pale immitation.