Exploring Vietnam: One Day At A Time | Day 1 At Hoi An

What draws you back to a place, time and time again? There must be something—something that excites you, intrigues you, and compels you to return. For me, this is my third trip to Vietnam and my second time in Hoi An, undoubtedly one of the most picturesque towns in the country. In 2019, Hoi An was even named ‘The Best City in the World’ by Travel+Leisure.

During my last trip to Hoi An, I spent just two days exploring a slice of this UNESCO Heritage Town, which left me craving for more! So when Sourav suggested a workation, Hoi An seemed like the perfect place to slow down, work, write, and soak in the serenity that lingers here! Hoi An means ‘peaceful meeting place’, and has earned a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition since 1999 for its well-preserved Ancient Town.

The journey from New Delhi to Hoi An was long. We took a flight to Hanoi on Saturday night, with a seven-hour layover. We tried to make the most of our time there by buying a SIM card (we got a Viettel SIM card at the airport, with 6 GB data per day!), exchanging money, and drinking multiple cups of Vietnamese iced coffee to keep us going. Finally, we took another flight from Hanoi which landed in Da Nang last evening, and drove to Hoi An. The lantern-adorned streets welcomed us, and despite our exhaustion when we arrived at our charming Airbnb in Cẩm Châu, I couldn’t wait to stroll through the narrow streets of the Ancient Town and enjoy a meal at one of the quaint cafes.

After dropping off our luggage at the homestay, we booked a Grab without wasting any time. On the way, I couldn’t help but tell Sourav all about the beautiful temples, merchant houses, boutique cafes, and the Hoai River that flows through the Ancient Town—leaving no room for suspense! As soon as I stepped out of the cab, memories of my last trip to Hoi An came flooding back.

We walked just ten steps, and the contagious energy of Hoi An swept away all my tiredness. People were sitting by the river, enjoying their coffee or sipping on beer. The street food stalls were buzzing with everything on offer—from bánh mì to coconut ice cream, fried frogs to pork satay! We paused at a pub to listen to local musicians, but it was so crowded that finding a table there seemed unlikely.

As we walked further, I spotted a souvenir shop where I had bought postcards during my last visit. It made me miss Tanisha and Shashank, my friends who accompanied me then. For a moment, it felt like déjà vu—as if everything was frozen in time, just like the town itself.

Although we wanted to explore more, the exhaustion of the journey was catching up with us. So, we decided to have dinner and head back to our homestay. A few steps later, we found a charming place called Châu Kitchen & Bar. Without hesitation, we walked in, found a table, and flipped through the menu. When the food arrived, it felt like a bowlful of happiness was served to us. I remembered reading, “No meal in Hoi An can be a bad meal,” in an article, and it brought a smile to my face.

It was around 10:30 PM when we stepped out of the restaurant, but it felt like the evening was just beginning. The music at the pubs had gotten louder, and there was a vibrant hustle all around us. Yet, we slowly made our way out, booked a cab, and headed back to our stay—calling it a day!

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