Hoi An is located about 30 km south of Da Nang. To reach there, we booked a shuttle run by Hoi An Express that runs hourly. We were assured that we would be picked up at our hotel at 9 am. I confirmed and reconfirmed our reservation, but the morning we were to be picked up, received a phone call from the company telling me that they could not pick us up after all. I asked if there was somewhere else we could be picked up and was told that they could pick us up at the airport. The explanation given was that the police would not allow them to pick us up in front of where we were staying. Not really sure why they would not have known this ahead of time. . .
So, we walked to the airport and waited to be picked up. The shuttle arrived promptly; we were the only passengers other than a tour guide that was being returned back to Hoi An after giving a tour. He spoke excellent English so we were able to converse on the ride. Less than an hour later, we were dropped off in front of the Hoi An Express office; just across the street from the entrance to Old Town.
We had heard so many wonderful things about Hoi An – that it was like stepping back in town and visiting a Vietnamese village. It is charming – even more so because the streets were lined with flower and decorations for the Lunar New Year. The streets were lined with shops, most selling souvenirs similar to what can be found in any major city in Vietnam. One difference was the number of tailors – one can purchase a made to order suit that can be picked up 12 or so hours after ordering. And, what amazing suits they had on display! I am sure they put these out to get your attention; I have not seen anyone wearing anything remotely like these (a good thing, IMHO).
I had wanted to go on a basket boat ride, but when we tried to book online, found that the companies that run these were closed for Tet. I was hoping to find one open when we got to town but only found boat companies wanting to take people on 1-hour boat rides. I believe the basket boats were in another part of town; one we did not get to. Oh, well! I have seen people fishing on basket boats on a prior trip here; that will have to suffice.
We stopped for some Vietnamese coffee. If you try it, I highly recommend ordering white coffee which is served with sweetened condensed milk. Or, if you love really, really strong coffee, order it black!
We wandered around the streets and soaked up the atmosphere. After eating lunch, we decided to head back to Da Nang. The old town area is very compact, so it did not take long to fully explore it.
We rode the shuttle back to Da Nang and were surprised to find that the driver dropped us off right in front of our hotel. Hmm…not ok in the morning, but ok in the afternoon? Very strange. We also noticed that businesses are starting to shut down for the Lunar New Year (Tet). It is only 3 days until the official start of the new year, so people are heading back to spend the holiday with their families. Very few restaurants were open for dinner, so it is a good thing we are moving on tomorrow. We will be in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) until Tet is over. From there, we will be taking a boat trip to Cambodia on the Mekong River.