HOI AN: Expectations vs. Reality (Hoi An Travel Guide)


What’s up, everybody? Phil here and I’m in Hoi An, Vietnam right
now. This is my first time visiting the city and
I’ve heard so many great things about all the things to do here, how beautiful it is,
the great food, and I wanted to take you through a real, raw look at what it’s like to visit
here and also basically give you what Hoi An expectations versus reality is like. Walking around you see beautiful lanterns
everywhere and, honestly, once you come out from where all the shops are and you can actually
see the river and just look across through all of it. It’s incredibly stunning! Basically a really dark night with the dark
water and then you have those different colors of lanterns popping up all over the place. It’s a really, really beautiful sight to
see and you have to see it to believe it! I will say, though, that’s something maybe
to be expected with a place that’s so popular and so beautiful and fun to visit, but it
is pretty crowded. I didn’t expect it to be this crowded when
I visited. Especially right when you’re next to the
river, there are tourists of all different backgrounds everywhere. People can be a tiny bit pushy coming up to
you and not really leaving your side for several seconds after they offer you their boat tour
and also offer you lanterns and all that kind of stuff, so I guess it comes with the territory,
but it’s something to keep in mind when you visit. When you’re in Hoi An, you need to try a
lot of the Central Vietnamese cuisine. The North and the South have their own unique
dishes and spins on different dishes and the Central does, as well, too. We’re here eating dinner at a local restaurant,
we got a handful of different local dishes to try out. This is com ga, this is chicken rice right
here. We’ve seen it all over the place and it
is everywhere in Hoi An. This is a Mi Quang, which is basically a noodle
in the Quang style, which is the province that we’re in right now. It has a nice little spice to it, a lot of
herbs in here, there’s quail eggs, it’s just really delicious and it’s even got
some chips in there to give it a nice crunch, too. What I really appreciate about the Central
Vietnamese cuisine is just how herby and fresh everything was. In terms of expectations versus reality, the
food is indeed delicious and I’d recommend you try as much local cuisine as possible
when you visit in Hoi An. Just south of the river, walking through the
market, there’s all kinds of different foods here, little trinket vendors and yeah very,
very packed, but still a lot of things to check out here. All kinds of different little fried foods
and desserts and ice creams and stuff that you can buy. The Hoi An Night Market is open from 6:00PM
– 10:00PM daily and close to 10:00PM a little before 10:00PM, the shopkeepers start to close
up, and if you really wanna get those beautiful views of all the lanterns on the river, definitely
recommend trying to get there earlier closer to 6:00, 7:00PM, because just like the shopkeepers,
the people who own the boats close up shop well before 10:00. Anyway, we’re gonna head back to our hotel
now, we’re gonna wake up early and do some exploring outside of the city. We’re gonna visit the My Son ruins! Alright, good morning! We are now about to bike to My Son, it’s
a 25 kilometer bike ride. Being in the city, it’s gonna be kind of
trafficky and slow, but then once you are outside of the city, it’s going to be just
beautiful countryside and just in general a different side to Hoi An that people might
not see when they visit. So no more than 15-20 minutes after we left
the city, now we’re out in the countryside. There are peanut farms, papaya farms, all
kinds of vegetation. Here are some water buffalo, and it’s just
a completely different side. It’s really windy, but given that it’s
a little bit warm, it actually feels really good to bike and have that wind on your skin. After about an hour of riding now, I’m not
exactly sure where we are, but we’re going to a market called Ha Mat and we’re just
gonna try out some of the foods here. From here, it’s another half hour of biking
until we get to the base of the mountain, from what I’m understanding, and we’ll
be taken to the My Son Ruins with a van. This is a sticky rice with mung bean wrapped
in a banana leaf and it’s grilled. Try everything once! It’s mostly rice with a tiny bit of bean
in there. OK, they just gave me another one! This is banh it, this is gonna be sticky rice
with probably some mung bean and sugar, so this’ll be a sweeter one. Mmm!! Ngon quá!! We just got done with the market and we had
a bunch of different fruits and sweets and it’s really interesting just to be able
see this kind of stuff you’d never see back home. And you don’t necessarily need to do this
tour, but really it’s just a special experience to be able to get away from the city because
this is just absolutely unique. Whether it’s a bike trip or you’re taking
a van if the bike’s not your speed, whatever it is, just do your best to try and get out
a little bit because there is so much to experience out here. If you’re looking for that real travel in
Vietnam experience, you’ve gotta get out of the city and I’m so glad that we did
that today. Now that we’ve arrived at My Son, gotten
off the bus, and we’re walking now around the area, definitely very tourist-heavy but
that’s to be expected because it’s one of the most popular things for people to do
when they visit Hoi An or Da Nang. It seems like a lot of the tourists come early
in the morning and that they maybe come for sunrise. So we’re here at about 11:00AM and a lot
of people are leaving, so if you’re not coming for sunrise, definitely try to come
later in the morning so you avoid the crowds. We’ve been exploring the My Son ruins with
our guide for about an hour and a half now. If I can oversimplify the history of the place,
it would be that the Cham people came to this area in like the 2nd Century, so super, super
long time ago. And they built these temples as places of
worships for kings and monks. Now, eventually, the Vietnamese who were not
in this area at the time, came down from the north (where they were) and they pushed out
the Cham people, but the thing is, this is way out in the jungle where no one knew that
it was! So after the Cham people were kicked out in
the 1400’s, no one knew about this place and it was basically secret for 500 years
until some French soldiers (during the French occupation of Indochina) got lost, found these,
and the year was 1890. It’s something that I can tell you about,
but you have to really be here to be able to appreciate the architecture and the history
behind how old and how preserved some of this stuff is. Visiting My Son was a beautiful experience,
I’d really recommend it to anybody visiting Hoi An to make a day trip out here. And advice I’d give is to come with a guide
so they can really explain the history so you can really appreciate what you’re looking
at. Alright, so after a day of cycling, we went
back to our hotel in the afternoon and it rained pretty much all afternoon, so the time
is now about 7:00PM. One thing that’s very important to note
when you’re visiting Hoi An is which season are you gonna visit? So there are 2 seasons that they say, it’s
the dry season and the rainy season. But from talking to our guide, there’s also
a hot season, too. The most popular times to visit Hoi An are
February, March, and April when it’s dry and cool. But once you hit May, June, July, those are
the super hot months, so even though it’s dry, it might be a little bit unbearable to
be outside. And after that you have the rainy season,
which is about August on until January. We’re here now it’s late November and
it’s been raining a lot. Now, when it’s rains, it rains for a couple
minutes really hard and then it’ll go away for maybe an hour or so and then it’ll rain
again. So it’s not like you’re gonna be stuck
inside the whole day, but it does impact what you can do with your time. So now we’ve made it out on the river in
a boat with lanterns on it and so the biggest tip that I have that we just learned from
doing here is to get away from the bridge. If you’re on the bridge in the center near
the Ancient Town and the market, you’re gonna get ripped off or at least they’re
gonna come at you with really, really ridiculous prices. And you should be paying no more than maybe
75000 or 80000VND per person. We wanted to get a boat with lanterns on it. They had boats that were really plain with
no lights no lanterns on them and those ones were right next to the bridge and those ones
were way more expensive than this one. So we got this better one just by walking
away from the bridge and the amount we paid for 3 people here was 250000VND and it also
came with free beers and free lanterns, so that should be kind of a ballpark for you
if you’re trying to come out on the river, which I definitely recommend because it’s
really, really nice out here. Right now it’s 8:00PM and actually this
walkway here right next to the river has flooded. It is basically the same level as the river
here, so the earlier the better, because at night this area can flood. And in general, keeping with the expectations
versus reality theme, I would say that Hoi An is absolutely beautiful, the lanterns are
everywhere and the river is a lot of fun to go on. But there’s a lot of things that you don’t
see on Instagram. The huge crowds and the unpredictable weather
can be a bit of damper if you’re not expecting it, so keep those in mind before you visit. It does seem to have kind of a Disneyland
vibe for better or for worse, because it is very crowded and it’s very, very catered
toward tourists. So take that as you may, anyway, we’re gonna
keep on exploring around here for now and tomorrow morning we’ll do some more sightseeing. So now that it’s morning, we’ve come into
the Ancient Town, one of the most popular things to visit when you’re in Hoi An is
the Japanese Bridge. It costs 120000VND for you to cross it and
what it does is it takes you west into the Ancient Town. If you don’t wanna pay the 120000VND that
will get you across the bridge and then entry into a couple of museums, you can simply just
go around. But, again, the Japanese Covered Bridge is
really popular and it’s also the most direct way into the Ancient Town, so it’s up to
you. And in terms of what to expect within the
Ancient Town, it’s more of the same. It’s a lot of coffee shops, restaurants,
stores selling some clothes, souvenirs, so unless you’re going there with the intent
of visiting a museum or you really wanna see the Japanese Covered Bridge, I’d say it’s
an optional thing to visit. Now coming out on the river and the bridge
during the day is also a really nice experience, too. It’s much, much less crowded and much quieter
than it is when you come at night. It’s gonna be much warmer during the day
obviously being in the sunlight when you come out on the river, but I would still recommend
not only checking out the river at night, which is a must-do, but also come check it
out during the day. I hope this real, honest review of visiting
Hoi An was informative and now you have a better idea of what to expect when you visit. If you haven’t already, SUBSCRIBE for more
travel videos coming soon! See ya next time 🙂

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