Hoi An. Oh my word. This little town is where I was my happiest in Vietnam.

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It is so quaint and easy to get around, with road after road of gorgeous little restaurants and shops galore.  Every corner you turn, will bring you joy – we sometimes would just sit and people watch for hours, seeing the mixture of locals and tourists within the town, taking photos, selling goodies and just the serenity of people in Vietnam engulfed us all. So my advice?

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Stop and drink your coffee and sit and watch – take it all in as now that we are back home, those are some of my fondest memories! Just being there, in the moment, watching everyone enjoying themselves.

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Found this cutest little restaurant that had like 4 tables and 4 items on the food menu to choose from. Food was delish and was a total whole in the wall and we loved it!

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We found this gorgeous little coffee shop where we sat for hours watching these koi swim around, sipping on ice cold homemade lemonade. Still dream about it.

So why Hoi An? I feel like it’s the Asian version of Santorini in Greece – beaches, little restaurants and shops – it’s the quaintness that I loved, the little hole in the wall restaurants – some so tiny that they only had like 3 tables! There are clothing stores, jewellery stores, book stores, all sorts of arts and crafts – you can spend hours just looking at all the shops. And lanterns.. lanterns are synonymous with Hoi An.

This town is known for all of their tailors and I would really suggest getting something made to take home with you. Many people have suits made, but you can ask them to make anything under the sun! Bring your favourite piece from home and they can copy it in every colour OR bring a photo off the internet or out of a magazine – they really are very good!

I had various tops made – I brought my two favourite blouses from home and had them make me lots the same, but in different colours and patterns. The turn around time is ridiculous, within 24 hours I had 4 new tops. You go back for a quick fitting in between and then collect and you are sorted.

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We also went to the beach. The hotel had a free shuttle to the beach just outside of town, it wasn’t swimming weather but was nice to lounge around on a lounger and meet all the locals as they walk past selling their goodies. We bought souveniers etc at 5 times the normal price but c’est la vie.

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The water puppets show was such fun! Was not sure what to expect but it really was a fun evening and would definitely recommend it. Cheap as chips to get in and you can bring your own wine and eats and just enjoy. The wooden puppets are made by hand and by very skilled puppet makers. The puppet show is in water which makes it fun and exciting!

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We did an awesome food tour on bicycles and I am not cyclist so we had to ditch the bikes before I caused any accidents and walked the rest of the way. We tried so many awesome local dishes and having a local tour guide made life much easier. We ate around 7 different dishes and the only thing is we wished we had done it on our first day as we arrived in Vietnam and not as we were about to leave as there were so many things we would have gone back to eat again and again AND AGAIN.

Leather anything, is on offer. You want shoes, bags etc? you name it, they make it. I went home with 6 leather bags of different shapes and colours. Even took the measurements for my laptop so that they could create a laptop bag for me. Was much cheaper than buying at home and they once again made them to order in less than 24 hours, working through the night to get them all done.

The town is a walking town and the you cross over a lovely river that is illuminated at night with all the lights shining on the water, with candlelit boats going along the water. Picturesque doesn’t even begin to describe this place of wonder.

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Our hotel was just perfection – was so close to everything and anything. The staff were very friendly, the buffet breakfast had lots of choices. We walked everywhere. Make sure you choose a central hotel as you want to be able to come and go, and have an easy and quick walk into town. This is where we stayed: Lantana Hoi An Boutique Hotel

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You need to pay to enter the town and your ticket will last your whole stay. So don’t get alarmed when you get stopped at one of the little entrances to the town and asked to produce your slip/ticket. The money goes towards keeping the town clean and beautiful.

_SAM6042-11_SAM6048-12 Then let’s talk about Da Nang. We took a day trip to Da Nang, from our hotel. It was pouring with rain, as you can see in the photos but we went to the Marble Mountains which was awesome, we had a lovely time, even though we were soaked through!

As you can see below, you can walk part of the way up or you can take the elevator – we took the elevator – but its only for the way up, you work the way down. We went into beautiful caves with buddahs and worship areas, and the architecture and design was stunning.

So You need to fly into Da Nang and then get a transfer to Hoi An. This your hotel will organise for you and its about an hour’s drive. The flight from Hanoi to Da Nang is 1 hr 15 mins and cost us around R900 each, return.

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