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Rod Page
6th October 2011, 05:12 PM
Hoi An is a truly beautiful place; it has a certain magic, certainly charm, a wonderful setting & a given vibrance. More than any other city in Vietnam, it retains the atmosphere of the past. After centuries at the forefront of world trade a short period of neglect followed. Now resurected its bathing (or perhaps drowning) in a mass of tourists.

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Evidence of human habitation in Hoi An dates back several centuries BC. From the 2nd to 10th centuries AD it was a major trading port in the Champa Kingdom, also, presumably, a port from where the Chams conducted their reknowned attacks on passing ships.

From the 15th to the 19th century Hoi An flourished - Chinese & Japanese traders would head south to Hoi An driven by monsoonal winds then stay over until the southern monsoons would take them home. There they would trade in all matters & kind with the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French, British, American & those from most other SE Asian countries. In the 17th century Hoi An became the first place in Vietnam touched by Christian missionaries.

Hoi An maintained its pre-emminence as a trading port right through until the late 19th century when the Thu Bon River on which it is built silted up seeing Da Nang's rise as the region's major port. The warehouses, shops & homes that had served the town so well over the centuries started to fall into disrepair. A UNESCO World Heritage listing in 1999 of 'Old Town' Hoi An would see all that change & witness the town's leap to become a major tourist destination with its wonderful period architecture, cobbled laneways, a myriad of entriguing alley-ways & enchanting river-side setting.

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(More follows...........................)
http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/images/misc/pencil.png

Rod Page
6th October 2011, 06:02 PM
Hoi An is prone to flooding; the locals say it floods every year. In 2006 & 2007 waters reached in excess of 2m in parts of the 'old town'. We ate at a restaurant on the high-side of the street on the left in the photo below. There's a marker on the wall showing that in 2009 the waters reached a height of some 1.5m, well over the heads of seated diners.

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One, a most enchanting, historical site is the Japanese Bridge. The bridge was first constructed in the 1590's by Japanese eager to join their Chinese neighbours across the waters. The French levelled the bridge's natural cambre, now restored, so as to let cars pass. It is said that in constructing the bridge a monster was killed. There's a temple mid-way across the bridge constructed by those who took pity on the monster:

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Today the car-free (& at times motor-bike free) streets welcome visitors to over 800 historical buildings 15 of which are special sites to visit. Boutique shopping, culinary delights, galleries, tailors & cobblers, walking tours & cooking courses now take centre stage at this once trading village.

It is said that trading is 'in the blood' - some trade from shops; others outdoors:

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A few shots after night-time falls:

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The beauty of the place is not confined to the 'old town'. A short run from town reveals splendid rice paddies & sensational beaches. I took this rural shot offering yet another vision:

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We ate at many restaurants, a brief summary of some follows:
- Mango Rooms - reportedly Mick Jagger's preferred eatery. Good fusion food, where simple experiments have paid off in a delectable treat.
- Cargo Club - great position & set-up, extremely popular. Good but slightly over-rated.
- Gourmet Garden - great fish in tamarind!
- Good Morning Vietnam - although a chain ate here as it has a reputed Italian chef. Great Italian fare.
- Re-Treat Cafe - satisfactory....for the undecerning.
- Vi Cafe - simple cheap local fare. Good value.

Hoi An is a truly beautiful spot, one which literally takes your breath away from first glance. Well worth the visit.

Iwantablackrz
6th October 2011, 11:42 PM
Wow. Somewhat random but I only just rode into Hoi An today. I have to agree with everything you've said and the beauty of this place (even though it feels very touristy) is pretty high. Reminds me a lot of Luang Prabang, Laos for some reason. Interesting you felt the Cargo Club to be over-rated. I ate there today and I have to say that it's so far the best meals (albeit a tad on the small side) I've had in Vietnam as of yet (been here for around 6 weeks).

Beautifully and sunny here today! :D

Rod Page
14th October 2011, 06:03 PM
Some 30 kms north of Hoi An along an easy-going dual carriageway which follow an absolutely magnificent stretch of beach some 25kms long lies Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city.

We have decided to make Danang our base:
- has a fantastic stretch of sand & surf in China Beach;
- stunning scenery to ride through/over/across/around;
- all of the 'advantages' of a large metropolis at your door-step;
- 30kms from fabulous Hoi An;
- 100kms from historical Hue (former Imperial Capital);
- easy access to both Hwy 1 & the HCM Trail giving fabulous riding opportunities;
- magestic mountain range to the north forming a natural barrier to inclement weather;
- (perhaps best of all), no wrap in Lonely Planet thereby keeping the tourists at bay, virtually eliminating the touts!

Ian Bungy
15th October 2011, 08:50 AM
Hi Rod,
In all You photos and posts on Vietnam so far I am Surprised how Clean everything looks? If You look at most Asian Countries including Thailand the Streets normally have some rubbish lying about somewhere? So is the Place cleaner than most or just normal? Great looking places by the way, inspiring stuff!

Rod Page
15th October 2011, 05:55 PM
Been waiting on you Bungy - half the 'flash' places I posted were for your sake!
It is fairly clean - there's an army of VN workers out & about with brooms in most 'regularly visited' places but there's also heaps of rubbish dumped about the place, especially discarded building materials - the place is absolutely booming with building everywhere - some washing up on beaches & so on.
Under tables where locals eat is where you'll see it - they chuck, spit, flick everything onto the floor under the table including their paper napkins at meal's end.

Ian Bungy
16th October 2011, 09:32 AM
Good Stuff Mate! Situation Normal then. Enjoy it Sir! I may still have to take a look one day as it looks pretty interesting!

KenYam
16th October 2011, 09:54 AM
Hoi An is probably one of the nicest towns we saw in Vietnam with its old French influence, canals and very old buildings it was a pleasure to stay and site see.

The people were also friendly, unfortunately we did not have a bike, trust your enjoying your holiday and really enjoyed your pictures.

Cheers Ken F

Iwantablackrz
17th October 2011, 11:05 PM
A bit of an update as I'm still here.

Yes..... I know. I was meant to leave days ago but with my lack of decent wet weather gear I've been hoping for a dry break!

The river has risen quite signiicantly to the point of where the road and path running along the rivers length (as seen in Rods second photo) are now a good 4 foot under water with the water lapping the back entrances of the majority of resturants on the main strip. In only a few hours I saw it rise a foot so I expect tomorrow morning it to be quite wet. I'll aim to update with some photo's tomorrow.

Rod Page
10th December 2011, 06:00 PM
A piece of information which I trust will save someone one day from wasting many hours.

A mate of mine was in Hoi An today. He parked & locked the steering in the 'old' part of town before heading off for lunch. He was unaware that the old section of Hoi An is 'pedestrian only' for much of the day & returned to find his bike had 'gone'.

It took him 2.5 hours to find it. The address where it was being held - a totally unmarked police station at the eastern end of Nguyen Thai Hoc (street) up near the markets.

If you find your bike missing head that way first; you may save yourselves hours.

Rod Page
23rd January 2012, 09:18 PM
A 1 Day Ride ex Hoi An

If you're one of the other half where dopamine does not flow freely to the brain whilst shopping for clothes & shoes, or you just feel like a break from the great restaurants then a day's escape ride out of Hoi An may have great appeal.

Hoi An sits along the Thu Bon River & sundry off-shoots. There are small ferries that will take you across the river to the fishing village of Duy Hai situated on the slither of land adjoining the South China Sea with wonderful views over the Cham Islands. This promintory split by the Truong Giang River is sparsely populated & runs down past Tam Ky. Its a stretch of land that offers remote access to a continuation of the surf & sands that make up the sensational China Beach for which the area between Hoi An & Da Nang is famous. Here, however, there is not a tourist to be found, indeed not anyone to be found bar perhaps a rarely passing fishing vessel. If you want a China Beach all to yourself then this is where you head.

Its not an easy track to find so herewith some pictures & commentary to assist. The easiest way is to ride on out of Hoi An to the ocean-side, to Cua Dai. Follow the beachside resorts southwards. Just after the Swiss Belhotel/Golden Sand Resort you'll see the following access road to your right:


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Take this cemented pathway for its full length (around 4km). Its too narrow for cars. You'll cross the water at a scenic spot dotted with fishing boats before arriving at a restaurant appropriately named "Le Bout Du Monde


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Just down from the restaurant in a most tranquil setting is a jetty, many moored fishing boats & an abundance of coracles beachside. The slender vessels alongside the pier will take you across:


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Its difficult navigation in terms of the known silt deposits. The voyage will take you down past the jetty from which vessels leave for the Cham Islands then across the mouth of the river to the remote fishing village of Duy Hai:


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A cement road in the middle of town & opposite the ferry landing leads southwards. Its a rewarding run through a patch of authentic agricultural undertakings dotted with older style housing not too dissimilar to that in Hoi An. The countryside then resumes its traditional costume of vast sand dunes covered in casuarina broken only by the cemeteries of those that have past this way before:


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After some 10kms swing left at the T-junction to follow the beaches. Take any track to your left to find a magnificent stretch of deserted sand:


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The road winds on towards Tam Ky; there are many options - explore them at will before returning to Duy Hai (or if rushed returninmg to Hoi An via Hwy1A):


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To vary the return take the ferry some 150m up-river from where you arrived. It will land closer to Hoi An:


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Not, however, before passing the beginnings of a bridge due for completion before year's end & which will see this outing forever changed:


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Rod Page
30th March 2012, 06:52 PM
It was one of those days, a day where a ride called to the extent of being obligatory. I was keen to show my daughter the real Vietnam, let her see how people live & work in fishing villages along deserted beaches, traditional fishing & farming villages, wood carvers of renown, see authentic village markets, not a car in sight. We would travel by traditional ferries to another world............& its all there right next door to Hoi An. A return to Duy Hai.

Stopped off en route to see my girlfriend at Thuthuy Silk; its the Hmong pants that help win such hearts:

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The run down to the first ferry - previously detailed on this thread - is just magic. Every home - no trophy house here - tells a story. Wooden louvers in shades of provencal; generations living under the one roof, all with a role to play, all welcome in the mesh that is their lives. A port for well used fishing vessels traversed by a narrow bridge:

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Onwards to the ferry, the loading pier to nowhere & looking back:

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Our arrival looms:

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The village coiffeur, fish to dry, a deserted beach, a different ferry on a different route home:

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'Lanterns' for lunch:

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A repeat run but one you should take before the bridge is complete, the tourists arrive & it changes forever.

Davidfl
1st April 2012, 11:13 AM
Love the pants & good to see you out & about even with your crutches. Good man. Keep going.

ianyonok
3rd April 2012, 09:36 AM
Excellent stuff, informative and great photos.

Thanks.

Bkk848SF
3rd April 2012, 09:04 PM
Great pics and report. Thanks for sharing.

Jurgen
4th April 2012, 10:11 AM
Wonderful pictures Rod and great incentives to move :)! I had great fun to see ThuThuy Silk :) This small place seems really attractive and photogenic; you are right, the lucky ones should go before it just becomes another "destination".

Rod Page
22nd February 2013, 01:06 PM
Nearly 3,000 readers of leading UK travel magazine 'Wanderlust' have nominated Hoi An as their favorite city, the town beat 970 nominees achieving a 97.18 percent satisfaction rating based on reader's travel experiences between December 2011 and December 2012. Hoi An finished second to Luang Prabang in Laos in the magazine’s poll two years ago. 'Wanderlust' has more than 100,000 readers in 112 countries worldwide. Vietnam was ranked the ninth-best country to travel with Myanmar securing the top position this year.

Last October, Hoi An was ranked eighth among 10 Asian cities by over 46,700 respondents to a questionnaire for the 25th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards conducted by 'Condé Nast Traveler', the world's premier travel magazine. Readers also ranked two Hoi An resorts: the Life Heritage Resort Hoi An and Nam Hai, 10th and 14th respectively, among the top 15 resorts in Asia.

Those riding in SE Asia are certainly blessed!

Rod Page
22nd February 2013, 01:11 PM
Nearly 3,000 readers of leading UK travel magazine 'Wanderlust' have nominated Hoi An as their favorite city, the town beat 970 nominees achieving a 97.18 percent satisfaction rating based on reader's travel experiences between December 2011 and December 2012. Hoi An finished second to Luang Prabang in Laos in the magazine’s poll two years ago. 'Wanderlust' has more than 100,000 readers in 112 countries worldwide. Vietnam was ranked the ninth-best country to travel with Myanmar securing the top position this year.

Last October, Hoi An was ranked eighth among 10 Asian cities by over 46,700 respondents to a questionnaire for the 25th Annual Readers’ Choice Awards conducted by 'Condé Nast Traveler', the world's premier travel magazine. Readers also ranked two Hoi An resorts: the Life Heritage Resort Hoi An and Nam Hai, 10th and 14th respectively, among the top 15 resorts in Asia.

Those riding in SE Asia are certainly blessed!