- Cityscape History-steeped harbour town
- City life Sailors and tailors
Hoi An will charm your pants off, but that’s fine – this is the tailoring capital of Vietnam, so it’s easy to find another pair.
Nose around 19th-century merchant houses, explore temples or just browse the cafés and galleries of this river-straddling former trading port. It’s a small coastal city to be savoured, slowly. Just beyond town is China Beach, one of the most alluring stretches of sand in the country, hugging the coast all the way to Danang. Culture cravers won’t be disappointed either, as the hinterland cradles the vestiges of an older empire, including the Cham temples of My Son. Add to the mix diving around the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park and the excuse to replace your wardrobe for a steal and you’ll find Hoi An is the real deal.
Do go/Don’t go
April and May are ideal for hitting Hoi An, with China Beach’s seas at their calmest from May to July. Despite its location in the tropics, Hoi An experiences a wet winter monsoon (October to March), when it can be cool at night; the summer monsoon (April to September) brings hot but breezy weather. In October and November typhoons can slam into the coast; the city floods and the only way to get around is by boat.
- Planes Danang International is the closest airport to Hoi An, a 45-minute drive away, with regular connections from popular Vietnamese destinations including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang. Currently direct international flights are fairly limited, but Silk Air (www.silkair.com) offers links from Singapore and Siem Reap in Cambodia.
- Trains 30km from Hoi An, Danang is a major stop on the daily Reunification Express train connecting north and south Vietnam. Sleeper berths are available to and from Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang and Hanoi. Go for first class with air-conditioning (www.vr.com.vn).
- Automobiles A car is not necessary for visitors to pedestrian-friendly Hoi An, but if you want to explore further afield, your hotel can organise a car with a driver for you.
- Taxis There are several metered taxi firms in Hoi An and it costs about US$6 to travel to the beach resorts. Xe oms (motorbike taxis) also patrol the streets, but prices are not fixed. A taxi from Danang to Hoi An will set you back about US$15.