Hội An is a charming town on the east coast of Central Vietnam. The Ancient Town is recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the “must-visit” destinations in Vietnam. Unfortunately to say, Hội An has an attitude of “it’s okay to rip off the foreigners” much common than other Vietnamese cities. Here are some extra expenses we had taken note of which we think are not worth spending on.
No doubt there are endless list of hipster cafes and fancy restaurants in Ancient Town, but be prepared to fork out two or three times more for a loaf of Bahn Mi or a bowl of Cau Lau (a local dish only found in Hội An) where serving portions may be half of the typical size. Try getting your meals along the streets outside of Ancient Town instead.
We did, however, splurge on our last day at White Rose Restaurant which sells only 2 dishes: Bahn Bao Vac (White Rose Dumplings) and fried shrimp wanton. Each dish costs 70,000 VND (US$3) which is considered quite an expensive snack in Vietnamese standard.
Hội An can be easily explored by walking or riding a bicycle. Motorbike is not recommended as you can’t enter Ancient Town and most roads are quite narrow. If you are staying within the Ancient Town, chances are you will have to pay for bicycle rental from the owner of your guesthouse or from rental shops. However, if you are staying a little out of town, the owners are usually happy to let you use for free.
From Ancient Town area to beaches, everywhere the locals will ask foreigner to pay a fee, even for bicycles! Note that you can ride bicycle within the Old Town, and may push your bike if you are not comfortable riding in crowded places. For beaches, skip the main entrance to the beach or you may buy a bottle of drink for free parking.
It is a common sight at Ancient Town to see old ladies selling floating lanterns at night. While it can be a pretty sight to see all the colourful paper lanterns floating on the river, this is just another way of polluting the river. And some of these lanterns are being used again by another lady on the sampan scooping them out of the river!
Entering Old Town might need a ticket, but we weren’t stopped by anyone at the kiosk by passing in and out several times a day. Most tourists purchased a ticket with coupons (US$5) which allows you to enter five attractions within 24-hours. If you’re not in rush, everything is free to enter after 6 p.m.
Getting to Hội An
Most travellers visit Hội An as a day-trip from Da Nang, which is only 1-hour bus ride away. As for our case, we took a straight 12-hours overnight sleeper bus from Nha Trang to Hội An.
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