Pssst Hoi Ann Is A Little Town In Vietnam… Oh Yeah & It’s Awesome

by Marc Valentine

If you’ve read any of our previous posts on Backpacking in Vietnam… you’ll already know that we didn’t have a huge amount of luck in Nam…

It’s not like we were robbed at gunpoint or anything… mostly our misfortune came down to a rough patch of weather.

Hoi Ann turned out to be quiet the saving grace during our time in Vietnam…

A quiet town on the route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City… Hoi Ann was once a thriving Japanese community, now the majority of the Japanese have left Hoi Ann…

… except for one very determined wedding planner – turned chef, who runs a tiny restaurant beside the old Japanese bridge in town.


Hoi Ann's Markets

I would make a point of checking the weather forecast before planning a trip to Hoi Ann if I were you… the first restaurant we walked into had pencil marks on the wall, about chin height…

Apparently the level the floodwaters had reached in 2011.

So what kinda city is Hoi Ann?

Well, I’m glad you asked…

Hoi Ann is a small and quant UNESCO World Heritage Listed town on the Thun Bon river… It’s a brilliant little place for eating, drinking and generally chilling out.

It’s only around 4 kms from An Ban beach which apparently is really nice when the sun’s shining, but of course it happened to be grey, windy, and generally unwelcoming the day we hired bikes & rode out there 🙁

There’s plenty to see and do via bicycle in and around Hoi Ann… you can ride your bike out to the beach for the day (just pick a better day than we did)… and you can pay to do a day bicycle tour which we also did and found to be a lot of fun.

Now I can see how it hardly sounds like a ton of fun, when I say the tour takes you to a family run rice noodle factory (backyard shed) where a small family works away producing rice noodles that are particularly delicious & famous in that area of Vietnam.


Rice Noodle Craftsman

Rice Noodle Craftsman

The whole family gets involved, rising early in the morning, crafting the rice noodles by hand through a process of breaking the rice down to a glugey dough like substance in a large mixer, then heating it over a big fire.

Eventually turning out delicious hand made noodles… mmmm

If your anything like me, and pride yourself on your linguistic ability… there’s no better place than a large rice paddy field to practice your Vietnamese swear words.


Hoi Ann Vietnam

Practising Our Naughty Words In Vietnam

The tour also winds it’s way through a small community of homes located on the fringes of a big herb field… lemon basil, mint, coriander, lemongrass…

… basically, an asian food lovers dream garden

Personally I’m a massive fan of Asian cooking, & love to shun precision devices like measuring cups in favour of the good ole “gut feel free pour” with my herbs & spices when I’m cooking at home…

Herb Farm Outside Hoi Ann

You even get the chance to put your farmer hat on and turn your hand at a bit of farming yourself.

The time to really appreciate Hoi Ann is at night…

… the soft light of the markets come on & the restaurants along the water front scribble their happy hour drinks prices on little chalkboard signs.


Hoi Ann At Night

One little eatery we stumbled upon worth a special mention is ‘Hiep Si’ or ‘Samurai Kitchen’ Japanese restaurant.

Owned and operated Genta Miyagawa by the aforementioned extremely determind Japanese ex-wedding planner…

… with a grand total of four tables, I think you’ll struggle to find a cosier restaurant.

Abandoning his previous life as a wedding planner in Japan after seeing a documentary on tv about Hoi Ann Genta decided on the spur of the moment that Hoi Ann was were he belonged, so he jumped on a plane, and realised a dream of starting his very own Japanese restaurant.

Hoi Ann as a town goes to sleep rather early as we found out one night after spending a few too many hours in a local bar… when we finally emerged after consuming ample pre-dinner drinks, we stumbled out onto the street to find no dinner to compliment the pre-dinner drinks, the usually well lit streets were in complete darkness.

If you do find yourself hungry after 10pm in Hoi Ann the ‘Before and Now Bar’ on the main street serves food until late.

Coffee lovers may note that it can be hard work finding a good brew in Asia, so we were floored when we found ‘Cafe On Le Loi’… a small & unassuming coffee shop that serves amazing coffee and even better apple crumble… do your waistline an injustice and pay a visit here one morning for brunch…

… you can thank me later.


Cafe On Le Loi, Hoi Ann

The Best Coffee Had in Nam... Was Bought Right Here

Hoi Ann is famous for it’s suit tailors… a few days into exploring Hoi Ann, we decided we could do with a new suit each…

Unfortunately our experience ended in tears…

Long story short – they couldn’t get Anna’s suit right, we had fitting after fitting… right up to the day we had to be on a bus to leave Hoi Ann.

We were told we had two options by our tailor…

1) Pay the balance in full and take everything even though it didn’t fit…

2) Or we could forfeit our deposit & walk away with nothing…

After carefully weighing up our options, in peaceful protest to the pitiful manner we had been treated by the tailors – we walked away & forfeit our $125 deposit.

Of course it left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths but that’s just life.

… it turns out the tailors bluff backfired in the end, when they turned up at our hotel later that day offering an even bigger discount than we had proposed.

The problem was, every single time I put that suit on for a special occasion – I would have thought of the shitty way we were treated by that tailor in Vietnam… so we turned down their discount and sent them away.

We only hope their next customers get treated a little better due to our experience.

All in all, Hoi Ann was a fantastic little town for some rest & recovery… with plenty of delicious food to consume and nice places to stay it’s well worth a visit especially if your’e in the market for a few days of chilling out & doing a massive amount of well, nothing.

Just choose your suit tailor carefully

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ken@Threeland Travel August 30, 2012 at 3:32 am

thanks for making some detailed info about Hoi An 🙂 I’m sure that the noodles you’ve mentioned named “cao lau”. Once tried that and could never forget the tasty favour. I was also impressed with the colorful lantern shining bright often in the late afternoon. That made an amazing scenery which I thought it was just in the fairy tale 🙂


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