Hoi An - A Vietnamese Paradise
Before leaving on my trip to Southeast Asia, I was advised by a ton of people to skip Vietnam because it "isn't worth it" and there is "nothing to see". Well after stepping foot in Hoi An, I couldn't disagree more! In my opinion, Hoi An is the perfect mix of action and relaxation, a slice of paradise outside the hustle and bustle of the hectic cities.
Cafe 43 - this quaint cafe not only offers amazing dishes at great prices, but it also offers an awesome cooking class deal. You simply have to stop by one day in advance to pick out the items that you wish to cook and then pay an extra $5 for what is essentially a private lesson. I cooked some cashew nut chicken and fried spring rolls, which tasted great washed down with a big ole' 15 cent beer!
Address: Tran Cao Van
Morning Glory - by Vietnamese standards this place is a bit pricier, with smaller serving sizes, however the food is absolutely amazing! When you compare it to Western prices this place is still a steal and definitely worth checking out!
Address: 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc
Nameless Restaurant - okay so this restaurant does have a name, I just don't know it! Fortunately, I can say that their cao lau and white rose, two local dishes, are simply to die for! Definitely check out this place if you are interested in trying some local cuisine.
Address: 474 Cua Dai
Bahn My Phuong - this tiny shop serves what Anthony Bourdain claims to be the best bahn mi in the world - worth a taste if you ask me! I was impressed after my first sandwich that I just had to order a second! Best part about it is that these tasty sandwiches are nice on the budget!
Address: on Phan Chau Trinh, nearly to the intersection with Hoang Dieu
Ganesh Indian Restaurant - I was a bit hesitant to add this one to the list since it is not Vietnamese cuisine, however this restaurant serves some of the best Indian food that I've ever had (and I've been to India)! After a couple of weeks of Vietnamese food, it was nice to indulge in a creamy chicken korma and some crispy garlic naan.
Address: 24 Tran Hung Dao
Beer - although not a restaurant, or even food, I think it is important to mention that in Hoi An you can enjoy a glass of fresh beer for as cheap as 13 cents! That means that you can drink 7 glasses of beer for UNDER A DOLLAR! Pretty hard to beat that!
Beaches - while not the most beautiful beaches in the world, Hoi An oe provide a nice escape for some lady beach days. As long as you order some food at the restaurant, you can usually sit in one of the beach chairs for free.
Biking - my favorite thing to do while in Hoi An was rent a bike ($1/day) and take off exploring the city! My bike took me through the winding yellow alleyways, along the river bends, through the rice fields, and down to the beach! It is definitely the most efficient means of transportation. That being said, you should definitely hop off your bike at times and get lost among the brightly colored buildings of the old town.
Tailor Made Clothing - Hoi An is one of the cheapest place to get good quality tailor made clothing. A lot of guys use their trip to Hoi An as an excuse to get a handmade suit. Since I was not in the market for a suit or elegant gown, I opted for four casual pieces. I ended up with two simple black dresses, a bright blue romper, and a long blue flowered maxi dress.
Shopping - While shopping is not as good as in some of the larger cities, there are some great stores and markets for you to browse through. Hoi An is also known for its leather goods, which might be worth checking out. Stop by the central market for some fun, cheap eats.
Cooking - like I mentioned earlier, Hoi An is a great place to take some reasonably priced cooking classes (ie. Cafe 43).
Yoga - before arriving in Hoi An I heard great things about the Hoi An Yoga studio, located among the rice fields. Unfortunately, the studio happened to be closed on the two days that I tried to go. If anyone does make it there for a class they should let me know how it is! I will definitely be checking it out on my next visit!