Kate’s Guide to Vietnam’s most Charming City
A wonderful enclave on the banks of the Thu Bon river, Hoi An is a town full of hidden gems. One of the last cities left in Vietnam where one can find perfectly preserved winding cobbled streets lined with traditional buildings, this world heritage site is chock full of quaint cafes and boutiques, whilst on its outer reaches, rice paddy fields and beautiful beaches await. A place where it feels time really has stood still, and a long-time favourite holiday destination of our founder Kate, here are her top tips for the best possible visit.
For the ultimate in luxury, you can’t beat the Nam Hai Four Seasons in Hoi An, a minimalist oasis on a private kilometre-long stretch of one of Forbes’ 'best beaches in the world'. Just along the coast, you’ll find The Boutique Hoi An Resort, our top tip for a child-friendly escape, all whitewashed villas on a palm lined shore. And, finally, if you’re after some me-time, the Fusion Maia just North of Hoi An in Danang is a peaceful spa resort for adults only dedicated to relaxation and well being.
Shopping in Hoi An is definitely a highlight. It has long been known for its beautiful silk lanterns, woven crafts and tailoring. Recently, some new boutiques have opened up. Metiseko is a wonderful spot to head for printed silk and cotton pieces inspired by traditional Vietnamese style. Their boutique also has a beautiful courtyard where you can stop for a coffee. Sunday in Hoi An is a fabulous new home and lifestyle store stocking chic homewares sourced from all over Southeast Asia.
Perched on the banks of the Thu Bon river, by day, Hoi An has a lovely, sleepy feel to it. By night, it wakes up, becoming a lantern lit spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. Head down early for dinner to wander along the river and across tiny bridges strewn with glowing lanterns as you hit the bustling night markets. If you’re keen for some peace and quiet, rent a bicycle and take a trip through the wonderful rice paddies that surround the town. The miles and miles of lush green really does take your breath away.
There aren’t many places that can beat Hoi An for Vietnamese cuisine. A long-time favourite of mine is Baby Mustard on the outskirts of town, a tiny, family-run restaurant serving the most delicious dishes from their vegetable garden, where you sit outside under the stars on wooden tables surrounded by paddyfields. One of my more recent discoveries is Miss Vy’s kitchen, a brilliant, bustling affair in the heart of town helmed by one of Vietnam’s most famous chefs. Featuring a courtyard of street food-style stalls, each one specialising in a different kind of traditional food, it’s the perfect place to head for a fun, lively dinner with friends.