As part of a trip to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, we spent 48 hours in Hoi An. I thought it was a great town to explore, and we managed to eat quite a lot of food.
We started off our trip on a Thursday morning in Hanoi. We ate breakfast at the excellent airport lounge inside of security in the domestic terminal. If you have Priority Pass you can get in, and they had an amazing spread (banh cuon, pho, porridge, dim sum items, fried spring rolls, eggs, bacon, fresh passion fruit, DIY Vietnamese coffee, etc. etc.) – anyway, onto Hoi An.
We arrived in Da Nang in the midmorning, and checked in to our hotel early. We stayed at Hoi An Holiday Villa, which was an excellent spot. Quiet and clean and very friendly service. It’s located about 1 mile east of the center of Hoi an, which meant it was part way between the town and the beach. We made use of the free bicycles, and used this as our sole means of transport for our entire stay (until we went back to the airport).
With our bikes by 11:30 AM, we ventured off for a multi-stop lunch. First was Miss Ly to try the shrimp rose dumplings. We liked these quite a bit – tender skins, not a ton of filling. Served in a bowl, floated in a dipping sauce.
After eating these (along with an iced tea and an excellent iced coffee), we biked over to Hai to try their mi quang. They only have two things on the menu here: mi quang and cao lao. Both were excellent. Very casual setting. This place is east of the center of town – not to be confused with another place called Hai Cafe.
After this, we did some exploring on bikes through the old part of the city, then eventually ended up at Madam Khanh - Banh Mi Queen. We ordered one house special (mixed meat and cold cuts) sandwich to share, as well as a mint-lime soda and a lemongrass peach “kombucha” (which really tasted more like a delicious unfermented tea). This banh mi was possibly the best I’d ever had – very nice pate, green papaya used instead of daikon, lots of fresh herbs (including rau ram and basil I think). The bread was also really fresh. I ended up biking back here on our very last morning to get more sandwiches for the plane.
After this, we stopped eating for a while.
In the late afternoon, we headed out to An Bang Beach and swam for a while. Sat on chairs at a random restaurant and ordered beer and a smoothie. Then headed to Tuyet restaurant for dinner, since we read it was good. It’s totally unclear if it was really any better than the other 20 restaurants next to it, but we had a good meal. We ordered a set menu for 2 people, that included a variety of seafood as well as seafood fried spring rolls. Highlights were the spring rolls and the squid. While delicious, the seafood paled in comparison to what we ate at Oc Oanh in Ho Chi Minh City later in the trip.
Day 2: We decided not to pay for our hotel’s breakfast (which I’m sure would have been lovely) and went in search of street food instead. Within a block or two radius of our hotel, there was lots to eat. Along the river, near the corner of Trán Phú and Tran Nhan Tong, there are lots of food stalls. We tried bun bo hue and bun rieu from a stall along the river, then also tried some pho from a place on the corner one block up from the river. Finally ended breakfast with some coffee at a cafe that also overlooked the river.
Lunch Part 1 was at Com ga Ba Bui, which we stumbled upon randomly and saw packed with people. Very good chicken rice (com ga). Served with lightly pickled green papaya salad. Next continued onward to Banh Mi Phuong, where we tried one house special sandwich to compare it to Banh Mi Queen. It was also good, but the bread didn’t seem as fresh and there weren’t as many fresh herbs and veggies. We also stopped by a cafe and hung out for a while. Had an excellent frozen coconut coffee, which is popular all over.
For our final dinner, we ate at Orivy Restaurant, which I read about online and had a varied menu. The highlights here were the salads – pomelo salad with shrimp and beef salad. We also had banh xeo (good but not too special), caramel pork in claypot (also good but not great) and the crispy wontons (very nice presentation, and pretty good). We ate early, so it was pretty quiet.
Since we had an early dinner, we ended up in the old town for some shopping and exploring later in the evening. Crossing to the south side of the river to the night market, we encountered crowds of tourists (it was a chaotic Friday night, and seemed as if every single hotel in Da Nang had shuttled its residents to Hoi An for the evening). At the night market we had an excellent durian smoothie as we strolled past the 4 dozen Thai rolled ice cream stands and 6 dozen banana pancake stands.
Had more breakfast in the neighborhood of the hotel. Very good bun rieu on Tran Nhan Tong, just north of the intersection with Cua Dai. Then some mi quang made with chicken (instead of the normal pork) down by the bridge over the river. Had another two coconut iced coffees at Xofa, which was a popular Saturday AM hangout for families. Then it was time to head off to the airport.
Overall a great two days, and there’s certainly lots more food to explore in Hoi An! Definitely worth it to try the street food that’s a bit farther from the tourist areas and that’s aimed more at locals.