Hoi An, an ancient outpost turned Instagram heaven

By Pham Van   June 13, 2016 | 06:48 am PT
The ancient city of Hoi An says it best with its serene beauty and gastronomy that drives many here and keeps others coming back for more.

Only 30 kilometers from Da Nang, Hoi An is a must on the itinerary of any Da Nang visitor, and more often than not, the primary destination of many people. Hoi An, like the famous Old Quarter in Hanoi, promotes itself first through the well-preserved antiquity that gives the coastal town its character. No matter how beautiful or serene something is, we all know that it will soon turn boring if the only thing we can take home are pictures, because it’s the experience that matters most. Hoi An has everything needed to get all your senses involved in the Hoi An experience

The lanterns

The light that keeps the town alive at night. Surely no-one can leave Hoi An without scores of photos of these lanterns. The fabric lamps used to be a daily household equipment with the main purpose of keeping the lit candles from being extinguished by the wind. Nowadays, these beautiful lanterns serve mainly as interior ornaments with the only practical purpose of softening the light inside. A silk and bamboo lantern is also a good choice of souvenir for those back home, constantly reminding them of the land of serenity and elegance.

The architectural relic

The Japanese Bridge, or Pagoda Bridge, in Hoi An is the evidence of the prosperous and cross-cultural past of the town as an animated outpost under the old monarchs. Though it’s hard to find any Japanese traces after multiple restorations, the bridge, with its distinct architecture still attracts lots of visitors and has become the symbol of Hoi An.

Banh mi

The most delicious street food in the world, as dubbed by many gourmets, has its own tasty twist in Hoi An. ‘Banh mi’ stalls spread across town, but the ones that have cemented the world famous 'banh mi Hoi An' brand are few. The most sought after ones are Madam Khanh and ‘banh mi Phuong’, where quality can easily be verified by the number of checks-in and Instagram posts.

Banh mi Phuong

Chicken rice

Besides the take-away ‘banh-mi’, Hoi An offers multiple choices for dining-in experience. Based on two most familiar ingredients to Vietnamese people, rice and chicken, the cooks of Hoi An have invented an unmistakable dish without any description but the word “Hoi An” in its name. Like ‘banh mi’, the quality of the chicken rice is guaranteed by the names of the shop owners, with the most recommended ones being ‘ba Buoi’ and ‘ba Nga’.

Grilled meat and Vietnamese crepe

Both can serve as stand-alone dish or make the stuffing of fresh spring rolls. The go-to place for these dishes, called ‘nem nuong’ and ‘banh xeo’ in Vietnamese, is Ba Le Well place. The service here is also an excitement to watch. Food is served according to the number of customers without any order made. You only have to order more if desired.

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