Red Lantern Town on the South China Sea

We stopped in Hoi An, Vietnam for a bit of R&R at the end of our two week buying trip in January. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to check the temperature. I had fantasies of lounging by a tropical poolside since the flight is only an hour north from Saigon where it was in the 90s. Wrong! It ended up being in the 60s and we had left our cold weather wear at a hotel in Saigon.

We stayed at a really charming 5 room boutique hotel called Villa Hoasu which is alongside a river and in the midst of farms and rice fields.

The first afternoon was sunny so we rode our bikes through the rice fields and into the central town of Hoi An. The town has the requisite motorbikes (it is Vietnam afterall), but it had none of the conjestion of Saigon or Hanoi – hurray!
Many of the old courtyard townhouses have been converted to tailor shops. The architecture is really interesting – a mix of influences from the international trading families which once did business in this ancient port town. You can get tourist tickets to visit some of the private homes (still occupied by the same families) which also gain you access to famous Japanese bridge and various Chinese Taoist temples.
We had some wonderful Banh Xeo at a restaurant called Bale Well (45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street). They make their rice crepes with special water from the old Bale well (an old-fashioned well which residents still pull water out of). My husband and I are huge Banh Xeo fans and the food was heavenly. They also make wonderful Thit Nuong (grilled pork). All of it is wrapped in green herbs. The location is a bit difficult to find so ask around.The next couple of days rained, but we had fun walking around the town, getting foot massages, shopping and eating. 

We found another great restaurant called Miss Ly (22 Ð Nguyen Hue). We enjoyed the Hoi An specialty of White Rose – steamed rice dumplings with pork and shrimp inside.
Hoi An is a really lovely town to visit. Just make sure you check the weather before you go!

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