February 17th, 2015

Sunnies

Hoi An Travelogue Day 1: Ha An Hotel & Hoi An Ancient Town

Hi people!

I'm gonna devote some time to blogging about my Hoi An trip because I've been wanting to share about this quaint little town with my readers ever since I returned.

In case you're reading my blog for the first time, I went on a short getaway to Hoi An, Vietnam with my sister few days ago and it was an awesome and insightful trip. When people think about visiting Vietnam, they typically think of going to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, but not Hoi An. Hoi An is a small town full of culture and heritage. To me, its beauty lies in its simplicity and I'm glad to be able to see this town and appreciate the interesting sights that it has to offer.

I took loads of photos on Day 1 so I'm gonna split this entry into two otherwise this entry will have no end.

This entry will feature the hotel and the town in the day while the next entry will feature the food and the town at night.

Ha An Hotel

Address: 6-8 Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoi An 84 510, Vietnam




Checked in to Ha An Hotel the moment we arrived.

This hotel is approximately 45 minutes away from Da Nang International Airport so I was glad that we arranged for a hotel pick-up.




Hammocks for guests to laze around.



Complimentary bikes for guests to cycle around the town.

A word of caution though - the streets are busy with motorcyclists and bikers so you might want to find walkways with less vehicles and which are more suitable for cycling.




The hotel gave us a welcome drink and a fruit platter upon our arrival. In the picture, I was drinking a pineapple-apple fruit juice mix and it was very refreshing.

I noticed that fruit juice blends are very popular in Hoi An so I would recommend guests to try different fruit juice blends there. Besides, it's healthy!




I stayed 3 nights in this hotel and I have to commend this hotel for its impeccable service and value-for-money. It's safe, spanking clean and affordable, with rates starting from USD 65 per night.



Everything we needed was provided for.

Oh yes, this hotel also provides guests with a fruit basket every day. How generous!




We had a complimentary upgrade to a cosy deluxe room with a garden view. :)

Really love the whole nature/floral theme of the hotel.




Our first meal in Hoi An was Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwiches, sold along the streets for less than S$1 each. It looks like a Subway sandwich, doesn't it?

The difference between these Vietnamese sandwiches and the usual French baguette is that the Vietnamese baguette is lighter with less dough. The ingredients consist of pork, radish, carrots and cucumber, topped with some herbs and Hoi An chilli sauce. The chilli sauce isn't that spicy by the way. It's probably as spicy as McDonald's chilli sauce.




Explored Hoi An Ancient Town and was marvelled by how pretty the town is.



It's common to see lanterns lining the streets.



If you can see from the pictures, the town has a mix of Chinese, Japanese and European influences.



Photo with the Sis!

Yaly Tailor Shop

Address: 358 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, Hoi An, Vietnam



Hoi An is also famous for tailoring and tailor shops are everywhere.

Nonetheless, Yaly Tailor Shop is one of the recommended places, not just because it's a short walking distance from Ha An Hotel but because they have a reputation for providing quality clothes. The shop is also open till 11pm which is great for visitors who might only be free to go for their fitting at night.

If you're looking to tailor some suits, working shirts or designer dresses (that usually cost a bomb), the shop is able to copy the design up to 80-90%. In terms of price, they usually quote prices that are around USD 60 and above.

Another tip: It's best to visit the tailor shop first thing upon your arrival because they would need to get your measurements and you would also need to return to the shop multiple times over the next few days for fitting. We visited the shop 4 times!

I didn't tailor any clothes because the quoted prices are still above my budget but they are definitely cheaper than designer wear. My sister managed to get a customized blazer and a working shirt at a pretty good price.




One of my best photos of the town. Just look at how tranquil this place is.



This feels very... Chinese New Year.



The Japanese Bridge, one of the landmarks of Hoi An Ancient Town.



We weren't able to cross the bridge because we had to buy a ticket so we decided not to. Nevertheless, I couldn't walk away without taking a photo.



Lanterns galore! Pretty, isn't it? The colours were so naturally vibrant.

If the lanterns already looked so pretty in the day, want to see how they look in the night?

Stay tuned to my next entry to find out!
With cap

Hoi An Travelogue Day 1: Morning Glory Restaurant & Lantern Night Market

Hey everyone!

So moving on from the first half of Hoi An Day 1, we settled our dinner at this amazing restaurant called...

Morning Glory Restaurant

Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc St, Hoi An, Vietnam




This restaurant was highly recommended by patrons and we were equally impressed with it too. In fact, we visted this restaurant twice during the trip!



Open kitchen concept. I like!

Gonna start introducing a list of food that visitors should try in Hoi An. When people think of Vietnamese food, they think of pho and spring rolls, but that's not all. Hoi An has its own specialties which are pretty interesting and worthy of trying.

Hoi An's specialities are actually widely available along the streets but if you're worried about hygiene, you can always order the same dishes in a restaurant. It would definitely be more expensive compared to the prices along the streets but it will never be as expensive as eating in a restaurant in Singapore. For a rough gauge of prices, we spent slightly more than S$10 per pax in this restaurant for 7 dishes and drinks.




Introducing Cao Lao, a must-try in Hoi An simply because this dish is everywhere. This dish is basically homemade rice noodles with tender marinated pork, coupled with fresh herbs and croutons.



Hoi An Chicken Rice is also worthy of trying and it tastes different from all the chicken rice I've eaten so far!

The rice is cooked until tender in a chicken broth and served with shredded chicken, fresh herbs, carrot pickles, green papaya, soya sauce and Hoi An chilli sauce. It's not too oily and really delicious!




Banh Xeo, also known as crispy pancake is a traditional winter specialty and I was very excited to try this.

The crispy Xeo pancake is made from rice and mung bean flour, flavoured with tumeric and filled with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts.




The proper way of eating this isn't to just stuff the pancake straight in your mouth but to wrap a portion of the pancake with rice paper. It's tastier that way!



I love fried wantons so these fried wantons with crabmeat really take the cake.

It's so cute that the ingredients were exposed instead of being wrapped up. There's no compromising of the taste though. They were still so good.




Love how the lanterns light up so beautifully at night, giving the streets a peaceful glow.



Say 'AW!!!!'. Dogs and cats can be best friends too.



The Central Market bustling with activity at night.

I found it interesting that the things sold at night seemed more varied than the things sold in the day. I bought a couple of earrings and Vietnamese hat keychains for my colleagues from here.




I absolutely adore these handmade pop-up cards that I bought a few pieces for my family and friends. A similar pop-up card like these would cost around $6 or so in Singapore but these were wayyyyyy cheaper.

Haggling is allowed and although it is exhausting to haggle (had to use a bit of psychological tactics here), it can save you a lot of money. Sometimes, the prices can get slashed to at least 50% after haggling. I will typically haggle for half the price of what was quoted before working my way up. If I am not desperate for the item, I will also say 'it's okay then' when I didn't manage to get my desired price and proceed to walk away (sometimes to the next stall selling the same items). Most of the time, the seller will call you to turn back and give you the price that you have asked for.




Very tempted to buy these floating lanterns so that I could re-enact a scene by Rapunzel in Tangled.



The brightly lit street across the river is the Lantern Night Market which I was so eager to check out.



So romantic and gorgeous that Vietnamese couples were using them for their wedding photoshoot.



No wedding photoshoot here but I can.also.take.photo.with.lanterns.



Surrounded by lanterns, yay! My wish to see the entire street light up with beautiful lanterns was fulfilled. Happy!

The next day, I went trekking so look out for the next blog entry which will be published soon!
In Koala Land

Hoi An Travelogue Day 2: Ruins of the Champa Kingdom & Cho Hai San Restaurant

Happy Chinese New Year Eve, my friends!

I'm gonna continue my Hoi An travelogue so here goes!





On Day 2, we visited the Ruins of the Champa Kingdom at My Son Sanctuary. This sanctuary is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

We booked our tour through the hotel so the staff arranged for a pick-up and a tour guide to bring us on the tour.




I woke up with a bad hair day (my hair was curling all over the place like nobody's business) so it was a ponytail + cap day for me.



Here you go --- the ruins. They looked magnificent despite being destroyed.



The buildings looked charred because the Americans bombed the temple towers long long ago, leaving behind all these remains.



In case you're wondering, the Champa Kingdom originated from Indian Hinduism so it's common to see statues of Hindu Gods around the temples.



Many of the statues were headless though. We were told by the tour guide that their heads were cut off and brought to the Louvre Museum in Paris.



The people used to worship the Linga and the Yoni, which (if you can guess from the picture itself) represents the male and the female genitalia respectively. The union of the Linga and the Yoni celebrates the creation of life.



Trekked to see other ruins which were walking distance from one another.



Another ruin which looked 'cleaner' than the charred ones because it has been rebuilt.



Photo point! Why do I feel like I'm in Egypt?



See the big hole in between the buildings?

The hole was created by the bomb and it was massive. I wanted to take photos of the bomb-holes found around the ruins but it was difficult to get a good picture unless I take it from bird's eye view.




Construction in progress which turned into unfinished business.



Spotted a chameleon but that's not exciting enough.



Spotted a poisonous snake!!! :O

Cho Hai San Restaurant



After trekking way past our lunch time, we asked our driver and tour guide whether they can drop us at a recommended eatery for late lunch/early dinner.

They brought us to a seafood restaurant called Cho Hai San, which honestly reminded me of a wet market because the tables, chairs and floors were all wet when we arrived. We had to clean the tables and chairs with tissues. Besides, the chairs were very short so it may be uncomfortable for people who are taller and bigger size than me.




The food was surprisingly good though and I would say that it was comparable to the standard of Morning Glory Restaurant. Love the shrimp wraps!



The beef hotpot was totally memorable and it was perhaps the best beef I've eaten in this trip.



Beef skewers! It was tempting to eat this like satay but that wouldn't be the right way.



Instead, wrap it with vegetables and rice paper and you're good to go.



Remember this? Yep, it's the Banh Xeo! Delish to the max. :)

That's all for Day 2. Read on for Day 3 of my travelogue!