09.01.2009 - 13.01.2009 20 °C
Nearing the end of our journey, our energy levels had slightly dampened so Hoi An couldn't have come at a better time. Its a beautiful small city situated on the coast of the South China Sea with an exceptional blend of Chinese, Japanese and French style architecture. Its quaintness & historical importance earned Hoi An its right to become UNESCO protected. Because of this you truely do feel as if you've stepped back in time as you walk along the narrow cobbled streets.
Hoi An at night
The heart of Hoi An is the 'Old Town' which nestles against the Thu Bon river & once served as a major trading port. The Old Town is very atmospheric, especially at night when the hundreds of lanterns are lit across town and the restaurants & cafes come into their own.
Hoi An doesn't have many tourist attractions however the city's charm is its biggest drawcard. The old Chinese style shophouses are now filled with boutique art galleries, tailors, crafts, restaurants, wine bars & cafes.
We fell in love with the food scene in Hoi An. The fresh food markets displayed the most colourful and fragrant range of produce, some of which we'd never seen or heard of before. On our second day we joined a cooking school and spent the day cooking up a Vietnamese storm.
Red Bridge coking school
Relaxing in Cargo's..one of the best bakeries ever!
Nathan eating local dish Ca Lao
One must see in Hoi An is the Japanese Covered Bridge. It was built in the early 1600's by the Japanese community & today is the symbol of Hoi An. Another thing you can't afford not to do is get a suit or coat made by one of the hundreds of tailors in the Old Town. Once you've chosen your preferred store, decided on your material & design, they'll whip you up a made to measure piece of clothing within 24 hrs for a minimal cost.
Japanese Covered Bridge
After 5 days of good food, good wine & leisurely strolls, it was time to move on. We finally mustered up the energy and courage I must add, to jump on another terrifying bus to journey to take us 4 hrs North to Hue.
The former imperial city of Hue is the most important historical and cultural monument in Vietnam. The beautiful Perfume River flows through the centre of the city, whilst the surrounding countryside is studded with elaborate tombs built during the time of the Nguyen Emperors.
We had one night and one full day to explore the city. Our hotel was located in the new part of town so on the evening we arrived, we decided to check out the local restaurant & bar scene which to our dissappoint was pretty average. The weather had turned for the worst too so we ended up calling it a night by 9pm and retreated back to our hotel.
The next day we woke up bright & early ready for a jam packed city tour which included a visit to the Citadel, royal tombs & a pleasant dragon boat ride down the Perfume river. Unfortunately it was still grey & drizzly outside so we didn't get to see Hue at its best. The citadel however was still impressive. It is a great sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates, shops, museums and galleries, featuring art and costumes from various periods of Vietnamese history. We managed to also stop off at the majestic Thien Mu Pagoda and had a suprise invitation for lunch by the head monk which we sadly had to decline as we had to keep with the group (this reminded me why I usually don't go on group tours). Instead we managed to fit in a fews minutes to watch the young monks share a vegetarian feast in their communal hall.