I can’t tell you how many times I mixed up Hanoi and Hoi An.
The exact same letters, just in another order. It caused me a lot of confusion. Still does if I’m honest! But in terms of experiences, they couldn’t have been more different. I was very honest in my last post about my time in Hanoi. I struggled quite a bit when I was there. But Hoi An was totally different. I spent about 6 days there, and in that time I did an amazing cookery course, explored the markets, met lovely people, had some much needed downtime, and just got to enjoy the place I was in.
I stayed in a gorgeous hotel called Hoi An Odessy Hotel. If you’re wanting to splurge a little, then this is a gorgeous hotel to stay in. The staff are lovely, the food is really good and the pool is amazing! If you’re on more of a budget or solo travelling, then I would recommend Sunflower Hostel in Hoi An. A girl I knew from work was staying there, so I met up with her for a few drinks on our first night. We ended up meeting a really lovely group there and hanging out with them for the night and for the next few days.
One of the absolute best things I did on my trip was the cookery class. There are so many to choose from in Hoi An, but I definitely recommend the one I did which was Thuan Tinh cooking class. Our instructor was so lovely, full of knowledge and really made the experience wonderful. The day starts meeting in the market where you buy all the food for your class. The instructor explains the different foods, what they’ll be used for, nutritional value etc., as you go around the market. Once we were finished in the market, we headed to the river where we took a boat to our class.
The class itself takes place in an open air kitchen, where there are individual stations set up for each person. We made four dishes on the day – Vietnamese spring rolls, Bahn Xeo, Vietnamese beef noodle salad and pho. There were a number of vegetarian people in our group and our guide easily swapped out any meat or fish for alternatives for them. You may need to check ahead if you are vegan.
The food was incredible! I am a huge fan of bahn xeo, which is a type of sizzling pancake. It’s so tasty, although I haven’t worked up the nerve to make it at home yet! At the end of your class, they give you all the recipes so that you’re able to make them at home. I keep threatening to have a Vietnamese themed dinner for people, so I think I’m going to have to do that soon.
If you’ve ever been to Hoi An then you will know that it is famous for it’s stunning lanterns that line the streets and are floating in the river. On the nights when there is a full moon, Hoi An is even more colourful! Crowds of people, boats filled with lanterns on the water, a total festival atmosphere. Definitely worth checking out if you are there for full moon.
I really enjoyed wandering around the town. It’s less hectic than Hanoi so it’s easier to just stroll around, take it all in, stop for coffee, or a bite to eat. It’s a more leisurely place. I had amazing bahn mi there in a place called Bahn Mi Queen. My only regret is finding that place on my last night, otherwise I would have been there every night! The bahn mi addiction is real.
My advice, if you’re going to Vietnam, go to a place like Hoi An first before going to somewhere like Hanoi. It’s enough an assault on the senses that you’ll start to get used to it, but not so much that you’ll feel overwhelmed. Then when you go to a busier, more bustling city, it won’t have you feeling like a total fish out of water!
As usual, I’ve got my list of places that I ate in Hoi An listed in this Google Map. Hopefully you guys are finding these maps useful if you’re travelling!