February 20, 2017

5 Ways to Experience the Vietnamese City of Hoi An Like a Local

The old trading town of Hoi An is one of Asia’s most popular travel destinations. Declared as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, this old southeast Asian port city offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors with its unique blend of local and foreign influences aptly demonstrated by the town’s traditional architecture, well-preserved ancient structures, and enduring crafts.

For many, a trip to Hoi An typically involve day tours at “selfie-perfect” tourist attractions, cooking classes at some restaurant, and a visit to the local tailor for an affordable, made-to-order suit. All legitimately fun activities to do when visiting this enchanting port city. But if you are looking for a more local, authentic Hoi An experience, here are unique adventures you should consider adding to your itinerary.

Sample the local cuisine

Pho

Every culture in the world is proud of its cuisine, and what better way to get acquainted with Hoi An’s food culture than sampling its local dishes.

There are countless dining options in Hoi An to choose from. Regardless of your budget or taste, you’re bound to find something that will excite your palate.

Cao Lau

Whatever your food preference is, you should never leave Hoi An without trying pho, cao lầu, bánh xèo, Bánh mì and bánh bao vac.

Explore the town on a bike or a “cyclo”

Thanks to its relatively small land area, getting around Hoi An isn’t very difficult. There are many bicycles, motorbikes, and “cyclos” in the city, particularly at hotels and home stays. Or you can join private cyclo tours –  they are affordable , and are perfect for exploring Hoi An at a leisurely pace.

As you tour this tiny port city, you’ll not only get to see some of Hoi An’s most beautiful attractions, you will also experience what life is like in the countryside. If you’re lucky, you might even catch water buffalos sunbathing in muddy rice fields, and watch fisher folks drag in their catch from their wooden boats. And, if you’re feeling extra friendly, you can even have a short interaction with locals as they tend to their vegetable gardens.

It is best to go on a cyclo ride during the cooler months so you can avoid the scorching heat of the sun as it can get very hot in Hoi An, especially during summer.

There are many restaurants and cafes in Hoi An, so make sure to drop by and grab a meal and some drinks along the way.

Chill at a local coffee house

Vietnamese Coffee Drip

The love for Coffee is something the Vietnamese share with Westerners. The country is particularly known for its incredibly strong coffee.

If you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur, then it would be a shame if you neglect to try the Cà Phê Sữa Đá or Vietnamese iced coffee.

It is typically made with dark roasted coffee brewed using a small metal filter. The coffee collected is then poured quickly into glass full of ice and condensed milk.

Live like a local at a Vietnamese homestay

Not many travelers realize this, but where you stay can significantly shape your entire travel experience. While it’s tempting to go with the familiar and comfortable, i.e. hotels, living like the locals do can be a cathartic experience. Besides, what better way to experience local culture than by living it – literally.

There are many homestays in Hoi An, particularly in the town’s residential area. Options range from traditional cottages to elegant villas.

And as a bonus, you get to chat with locals about their culture, history and everything else under the sun. As any seasoned wanderer would tell you, the best way to learn about a place is to mingle and talk to the people who actually live there.

Explore the lantern-adorned night market in Hoi An’s old town center

Lanterns in Hoi An Night Market

Hoi An is also known for its beautiful, hand-crafted silk lanterns. At night, thousands of traditional lanterns light up the town’s main streets, illuminating the area with a rainbow of colors that add to its unique Asian charm.

Hoi An locals hang them in front of their homes, in hopes of attracting wealth, good luck, and a happy life.

If you are up for it, you can buy floating lanterns at the market on Nguyen Hoang street, and release them onto the river nearby for some luck. They sell for about 10,000 Vietnamese Dong (roughly US $0.45) each.  Or if you want to learn how the city’s skilled craftsmen make these beautiful traditional lanterns, you can join a small-group lantern-making tour as well.

In addition to lanterns, Hoi An’s night market offers a cornucopia of local products from simple trinkets, intricate jewelry, to silk fans. You can also sample many of Hoi An’s street food at the night market. Looking for something a bit more fancy? There are also restaurants in the vicinity.

Looking to experience Hoi An like a local? Spice up your itinerary with these fun-filled tours and activities from Travezl.com.

By:  Brendelyn Balaga

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