For our next leg from Hanoi to Hoi An we decided to take an overnight train. Not the best idea, taking into consideration the price of the ticket and the length of the trip. The train went all the way to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), but we stopped in Da Nang. The trip took 15 hours. We had the 1st class tickets with in the sleeping wagon with 4 passenger compartments. Overall the ride wasn’t comfortable as the train was filthy and very cold. Fortunately, once we arrived to Da Nang, the driver from our little hotel was waiting for us. The distance from Da Nang to Hoi An is about 30 kilometers.
Hoi An is all about the old town, the UNESCO Heritage Site.
The Old Town is only a few blocks wide, perfect for simply wandering around and discovering the galleries, tailors, cafes and restaurants. The town reflects a fusion of Chinese, Japanese and French influences. The lack of cars makes it into a great place to relax and just soak up the special vibe of the town.
Despite the fact we had three of four rainy days (with breaks) we had a wonderful time. We we spent most time walking around the old streets, stopping at local cafes and restaurants. The city is beautiful. We couldn’t stop taking pictures, and every few moments admiring the old yellow faded building, scenery and soaking up the relaxing atmosphere.
One of the things that spoiled the a bit was a constant solicitation by sellers (with shops and street vendors) and constant calling: “buy something, cheap, cheap”
Walking through the old town, we stumbled upon “Kazik Square” (square Kazik). Initially we thought that it is a word that some Vietnamese accidentally spelled as “Kazik”. To our surprise, the square has monument dedicated to the Casimir Kwiatkowski, considered here as a providential man who saved the historic complex before liquidation and contributed to the success of the city. He attributed the main merit of Hoi An entry in the register of UNESCO World Heritage. This is perhaps the only “modern” monument in the old town.
During our visit we hopped on bicycles and headed towards the beach. The beach (about 3-4 miles from the city). The beaches are not the prettiest in this time of the year (small, eroded by the waves ..), but the most surprised us the number of newly built hotels and tourist complexes. It looks awful, and in few years there will be no natural amphibians only artificially made sand beaches surrounded by resorts.
It was definitely the most beautiful city (at least for us) in Vietnam, character and charm that sets it apart from other cities.
- Hotel (Guesthouse): Ngo Homestay – $ 22 /night
- Bike rental – $1.5 /day
- Boating on the River – $7 – $10/ per hour
- Taxi from Da Nang to Hoi An – $16.00 (trains / planes arrive only to Da Nang)
- Train from Hanoi to Da Nang (sleeping, soft beds) $59.00/ person