Hoi An in Vietnam is the city of romance, exceptional food, and bespoke outfits

Hoi An is a historical journey back to the 16th century, with fantastic food, unique art and architecture, and, not least, beautiful and romantic excursions.


Gita Simonsen

Before embarking on a trip through Southeast Asia, I had heard that Hoi An was a city you just had to make time for. I now say the same thing to anyone considering a trip to Vietnam.

Hoi An Ancient Town - the old town from the 16th century

Just below the Thu Bon River lies Hoi An Ancient Town. In the heart of Quang Nam Province, the old town is not only a well-known tourist attraction, but also a journey into an architectural world dating back to the 16th century.

The city was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. Here, you can stroll through a living museum, which is still bustling. More than 1,100 wooden buildings remain standing in all their glory, and a 19th-century Japanese bridge is just as sturdy today. From the 16th to the 20th century, Hoi An was an exclusive trading port between Europe and Asia, and the lucrative trade is one of the reasons why the Old Town is so well looked after.

The old town is maybe most beautiful in the evenings when the light lamps are lit everywhere in the city. Lamps of all colours illuminate the dark streets that have far from settled. In the evening, the whole of Hoi An comes to life. The shops and markets are open, the restaurants and bars serve at a good pace, and the atmosphere is quite simply excellent.

We accidentally stumbled upon Morning Glory Signature, a very friendly restaurant with good live music. We sat out towards the street and ordered ourselves some delicious food and local beer. It’s the perfect place to watch all the hustle and bustle, while enjoying relaxing in your seat in the tranquillity of the restaurant.


Beautiful evenings

Lamps of all colours illuminate the dark streets that have far from settled. In the evening, the whole of Hoi An comes to life.

Shopping - art, treasures and markets

For me, the absolutely best thing about Hoi An was strolling around the old streets looking at all the treasures. There are so many exciting people to talk to, items being sold, and unique artworks worth taking home. You can find both artist studios, street art, interior items, clothing, and everything in between. I didn't find the sellers pushy; they let you take the time you need. We bought two paintings on the way home.

You must try the tailors

Vietnam, especially Hoi An, is well known for its tailors. Here, you can get both dresses and suits sewn and adjusted to fit you perfectly, and at a good price. This is something I can confirm to be true, and which I highly recommend. We went home with as many as five suits and a dress in very good quality, all of which has often been worn since. There are a number of tailors to choose from. We went with Bebe Hoi An, which was professional, efficient, and competitively priced.


Fried ice cream

Take a break and try the amazing food trucks in the city.

What to eat in Hoi An

The food in Vietnam is impeccably good. All the delicious Asian dishes with fresh ingredients send you on an incredibly exciting food journey. Hoi An is known for its Cod Lau, Hoanh Thanh, and white rose dumplings.

We ate the world's best dumplings at the White Rose Restaurant in Hoi An. Fantastically good, and very affordable. The restaurant has no website and looks very basic when you arrive there, but don't be fooled by its looks — it’s an amazing hole in the wall and a hidden treasure. Quite simply Michelin quality dumplings!


Best in the world

We ate the world's best dumplings at the White Rose Restaurant in Hoi An. Fantastically good, and very affordable.

White beaches and crystal-clear waters near Hoi An

The beaches are located about 4 to 6 km from Hoi An's Old Town. If you make the effort to travel out to Cham Island, for example, you will find tropical and white beaches, crystal clear waters and palm trees. The islands in this area are popular diving destinations.

We took the shorter route to the tourist beach and hung out at the Shore Club Beach Club. Here, we enjoyed good food and smoothies, and stunning views.

Boutique hotels are always tempting

Boutique hotels are a sure winner with me. They are always more intimate and cosier, and the service is often better and more attentive. Little Riverside in Hoi An was no exception. The moment we entered, we were served a welcome drink with a big smile. The rooms are spacious, with a nice balcony and bathtub - and gorgeous interiors. The hotel will help you with all your transport needs, and the staff are happy to assist you if you have any questions about excursions and restaurants.

The hotel features a nice spa area and a lovely swimming pool. The restaurant has a beautiful view of the river right outside from its location in central Hoi An - just a short walk from the Old Town. The hotel also lends out bicycles for free if you want to take a bike ride to the beach or further out to the village, where you can see water buffalo. Not least, the hotel has a reasonable price.


Luxury Beachclub

Enjoy good food and drinks at Shore club in Hoi An.

Romantic bike rides

We took a bike around town, which my partner and I both rode on, cycling down the streets, where the light links are strung up high and just as warm even though the sun has gone down - it was a very romantic affair. Hoi An is generally a bike-friendly place and a bike ride is a great way to experience the city. Avoid taking your bike in the evenings on the most crowded streets, as you will have to walk it.

We were in Hoi An for four days and definitely want to go back. If you head to Vietnam, don't skip Hoi An – doing so would mean missing out on something special.