Wandering around the impossibly charming town of Hoi An was like taking a step back in time. Tucked away on the banks of the Thu Bon river, the Ancient Town, with a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and French architecture stood as a testament to its rich history as a once thriving port of trade in the 18th century.
Stay: A La Carte Hotel, Da Nang
We chose to stay in the resort area of Da Nang, about 30 minutes driving distance from Hoi An at the A La Carte Hotel. If you're an infinity pool groupie like me, you will adore the 360 degree views from here, with or without all that swimming. (Check out the gallery for photos.)
We shared a two bedroom suite amongst four ladies and took full advantage of the large living area and private balcony we had overlooking the beach. I would definitely recommend booking a suite over getting individual rooms if you come with a group.
Do: Sun, Sand(wiches) and Strolls
1) If I could eat bahn mi sandwiches all day, I would so naturally, a weekend in Vietnam is a dream come true. Be sure to pay a visit to the "Bahn Mi Queen" herself at Madam Khanhs if you're in town. This hole in the wall is popular with locals and visitors alike. I had the classic "Mixed" bahn mi with pork, cold cuts and vegetables and was in sandwich heaven.
2) The buildings in Hoi An are drenched in a vibrant golden yellow, a hue symbolizing good luck and fortune. They line the streets along with lush tropical greenery and colorful lanterns, making leisurely strolls in this town a feast for the eyes. Take your time to wander around and check out the many cafes and teahouses that bring an even more eclectic vibe to this place.
Faifo Cafe is a must visit not only for a caffeine fix but for its beautiful balcony seating that is perfect for people watching.
Reaching Out Tea House is a beautiful and relaxing place to enjoy a cup of tea. This social enterprise is run by staff who are deaf or hard of hearing and also sells beautifully crafted items by artisans with disabilities. Definitely worth spending an hour or two here to relax and reflect.
3) An Bang Beach is a local favorite in the area. There are restaurants all along the beach that offer use of their cabanas and beach chairs if you order food but If you'd rather be closer to the sea and work on your tan, feel free to lay your towel out a little further out on the beach to enjoy some privacy.
4) Citron, the upscale Vietnamese restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel serves up spectacular views in its unique outdoor dining pods, suspended over the sea, alongside classic dishes like Pho and Hoi An Chicken Rice. A lunch or dinner reservation here will allow you access to explore the main areas of the resort so I highly recommend a mealtime visit here if you'd like to experience the hotel without spending the night. The distinctive outdoor dining pods are seated on a first come first served basis so arrive early for your reservation to get on the waiting list.