My first ever visit to Vietnam in March was to a small, quaint town called Hoi An. A lesser known travel option compared to the big cities of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, we chose it because we wanted somewhere child-friendly with 5 days of doing very little except eating, swimming and taking long walks. Hoi An was perfect – the food was delicious and fresh (every single morsel), the people were relaxed and friendly, and it felt extremely safe.
We stayed at Sunrise Premium Resort, a large hotel with a stunning pool and access to the beach. However, Hoi An isnt really a beach destination and at that time of the year the air was refreshingly brisk and cool. So not much swimming was done. It was really funny to see and speak to the Europeans staying at the hotel who thought the weather was glorious while we were freezing in our swimsuits!
Service at the Sunrise was good but not particular;y impressive for a 5* star resort. Their buffet breakfast was satisfying, but best of all was the kids club which was open all day and had lots of toys, a sandpit, scheduled films and activities. It meant we could have a great time knowing our son was occupied and happy. We had our helper with us but it’s a great place to drop-off older children.
I’d never been particulary crazy about Vietnamese food…until I went to Vietnam! My goodness, my day wasn’t complete unless I’d had my Banh mi – pork, pate, rocket and some kind of delicious sauce in a mini baguette – incredible! ‘Banh mi’ actually just means bread, so when I simply asked for bread I was a bit taken aback when it arrived. One bite and I was hooked.
I also loved their signature ‘Pho’ soup – a noodle broth with either beef or chicken – and all their rice and noodle dishes. Their food is just so good because they marinate everything.
Some of the restaurants we ate at included Dao Tien River restaurant, Green Chilli, Morning Glory and for lunch we went to Bees Knees Cafe a few times. All these restaurants are in ‘town’ or in the ‘old town’ and are short walks or taxi rides away from most hotels.
I loved walking down the streets, listening to romantic French music playing from the speakers and stopping at one of their ice cream or coffee spots. You can also hire bicycles or motorbikes and really enjoy zipping from the town to the countryside and back. Plus, Hoi An being a tailor town, it’s perfect for making clothes because you can choose your fabric, lining and style. It’s also fantastic for making all kinds of leather bags and footwear. Just bring a photo or browse through their computers while you’re there. Everything can be made in record time – anywhere from 1 to 3 days.
At first it was a little scary crossing their busy junctions with motorcycles flying from every direction, but there’s madness to the mayhem and the really low speed limits mean the motorcyclists are actually moving very slowly.
The one piece of advice I’d give is to be aware that Vietnam is still a poor country. It’s not that the vendors we dealt with were trying to pull fast ones, but they see foreigners and the price just goes up. So don’t be too paranoid about being ripped off but at the same time it’s fine to haggle. We bought some fruit from some old ladies (mainly because I wanted a picture) and when we converted the price to singapore dollars we paid an extortionate amount! Our tailor did try to warn us!
I definitely recommend Hoi An as a great location for families with small children or anyone looking to get out of the city and enjoy a slower pace. Compared to quieter beach towns like Bang Tao in Phuket, it hasn’t got the same customer service and efficiency but there’s an authenticity and warmth that I loved.
Enjoy the photos below!
There are cultural heritage sites you can visit but we didn’t bother with those and although most people go over a weekend, it was lovely to have 5 days to soak up a world so different from anything I’d experienced.