This is how I enjoyed my three perfect days in Hoi An with Christina’s…
Day One: Get Acquainted
9 a.m.: Get cooking! The Joi Factory, Christina’s on-site dining facility, is led by Chef Duc Tran who offers private cooking lessons to interested parties (by request only.) The culinary introduction to the most lauded of Vietnam’s three main regional cuisines—that is, central Vietnamese cuisine—begins with a personal tour of Hoi An’s Central Market.
Poised next to the banks of the Thu Bon River, the Central Market is an active local market, servicing locals and foreigners alike. Meander through the makeshift aisles, outlined by wooden platforms decorated in wicker baskets brimming with a vibrant tropical assembly of fruits and fresh produce. Collect your ingredients and head back to Christina’s but if you’re feeling adventurous, make your way to the furthermost end of the market, which opens up into the loading dock. The loading dock is the designated “wet market,” with live fish (and other sea creatures such as frogs and eels) thrashing around large aluminum basins of water.
11 a.m.: After you’ve discovered a newfound understanding for the term “locally-sourced,” Chef Duc will take you back to The Joi Factory where an outdoor kitchen awaits. Roll some fresh spring rolls (goi cuon), toss a gorgeous banana-flower salad (nom hoa chuoi), and sizzle up some Central-style savory pancakes (banh xeo). Chef Duc will first demonstrate how to prepare each dish before letting you take the wheel. If you are a novice in the kitchen, the tutelage is highly personalized and is stress-free. Another perk: in Chef Duc’s class, you eat the dish right after you prepare it so no need to wait until every menu items is finished to enjoy the meal. Savor everything while it’s fresh!
1 p.m..: Take the Christina’s bikes (provided free of charge) out for a spin to the Ancient Town, the UNESCO World Heritage designed historic section of Hoi An proper. Not only will you be treated to a scenic drive past verdant rice paddies, but you’ll also burn those newly accrued calories sitting in your belly. The Ancient Town is a 4-km drive from Christina’s.
Stop at Bebe Tailor’s Flagship Store on 11 Hoang Dieu Street to create your own custom threads. Hoi An is a mecca for tailor shops and it would be a sin not to invest in a three-piece suit that cost only a fraction of what they’d go for back in Western countries. Ladies, if you’re interested in commissioning your own pieces, just make sure to have a gameplan in terms of a look you’d like to replicate or you may be overwhelmed by the number of options. A first-time buyer? Check out our article: “Finding a Good Tailor in Hoi An.”
Note: A fitting post-feast may seem counterintuitive but lucky for you, all garments are fitted at least twice so don’t worry that the garment will not be true to your size.
3 p.m..: Park your bike and get to walking. Hoi An’s Ancient Town was made for pedestrians. Handicap impaired? There are cyclos for hire, a Vietnamese version of a rickshaw with the bicycle affixed to the back of the passenger cart as opposed to the front. Seek out The Reaching Out Tea House on 131 Tran Phu and you’ll be rewarded with an oasis of calm. Apart from the Chinoiserie-inspired interiors, this tea house also doubles as a social enterprise providing the mute/deaf staff with meaningful employment. All communication is done with pencil and paper, as well as a series of wooden blocks labeled with commands/actions to ensure that all orders go smoothly.
Seek out The Reaching Out Tea House on 131 Tran Phu and you’ll be rewarded with an oasis of calm.
If you encounter a Hoi An Ticket Kiosk when attempting to enter the Ancient Town, please note that the ticket is NOT compulsory despite what the vendors say. Should you find yourself in this situation, backtrack to the main street of Tran Hung Dao Street and try to enter the Ancient Town from another street. The entrance fee is billed at 120,000 VND for international visitors and 80,000 VND for locals and can be used for 21 official attractions, but most buildings can be entered without an official ticket.
5 p.m..: Stroll along the edge of Bach Dang Street for the best vantage point of the Ancient Town’s free light show. Almost every canary yellow building within the premise is trimmed with a string of silk lanterns, which are turned off as the sun sets. From An Hoi Bridge, admire the trail of floating lanterns cruising down the now-black waters of the Thu Bon River. Hawkers congregate at the footbridge selling these floating lanterns for 20,000 VND a pop and have devised a clever mechanism of lowering them down into the waters. If you are traveling with a child, it is a worthy moment of mysticism.
When crossing the An Hoi Bridge, make a right and almost immediately, you’ll find stalls strung with painted silk lanterns galore. Interested in buying? The small lanterns start at 10,000 VND but chances are, going home with a good photograph of these darling lights will be enough. Proceed onwards to Vy’s Market Restaurant located on 3 Nguyen Hoang for a hearty dinner. Don’t be disheartened by the food court layout, as it’s owned by the queen of the Hoi An restaurant scene, Diem Vy, who is also behind other favorites such as Morning Glory, Cargo and Mermaid. Head back early to get some rest for a full day of adventuring ahead.
Day Two: Go Explore
7 a.m..: Get your fill at the Joi Factory complimentary breakfast buffet because you’ll need all the energy you can get for a full day of cruising the countryside on your way to My Son Sanctuary. The ruined tower temples of My Son (pronounced “mee-sun”) is the legacy of the Champa Kingdom and the Cham people, a unique culture of Hindu devotees that settled in this region between the 4th and 13th centuries. The motorcycle tour to My Son departs at 7:30 a.m. while the private car leaves at 8:30 a.m. For a more authentic approach to transportation, opt for the motorcycle tour, where you will get your very own Onetrip tour guide slash personal driver. Experiencing the open road in Vietnam is something you’ll surely remember for years to come.
Visit here for the Onetrip My Son Adventure details: https://www.christinas.vn/hoian/hoi-an-myson-adventure/
9 a.m..: Adjacent to the wet market is the local ferry, but it will be unlike one you’ve seen before as you’ll be driving your motorcycle onto the narrow barge. The bow of the ferry is the prime spot for the best panoramic photo of Hoi An. After you’ve crossed the river, the first stop of the journey is Kim Bong Village, known for boat building and carpentry. There, you’ll visit the home of traditional straw mat weavers. Enjoy some refreshments as well before carrying on.
10:30 a.m..: The next stopover on your way to My Son is Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village, located in Dien Ban District. Here, you’ll find a family of blacksmiths who specialize in transforming old Vietnam War bullets and bombshells into musical instruments. Ask the artisan to play the ‘trong troi,’ a circular drum played with one’s fingers that give off a haunting, exotic sound.
12:30 p.m..: It’s lunch time! Recharge and find some shelter from the heat of the mid-afternoon sun at a local unnamed dive just a short 30-minute ride from My Son. This homecooked meal consists of 10 local dishes made from the local produce and livestock. However, the Onetrip guides can accommodate any dietary restrictions, just make sure they are notified in advance. Don’t be shy; there’s plenty to go around for everyone!
2 p.m..: Arrive at the magnificent My Son Sanctuary. 71 monuments clustered into eight different regions make up the total site. From the main entrance, your introduction to the Cham culture will begin at the museum. You’ll then be shuttled to the main congregation of monuments. Before visiting tower temples, watch a beautiful—and brief—show of Cham dance and song performances. Follow the Onetrip guides who will do their best to avoid the crowds as they educate you on the remarkably well-preserved condition of the temples, which have baffled researchers as to how they were able to survive in the harsh climate of this region for millennia. Admire the conservation work that has been carried out and the ongoing beautification efforts to the park’s relics.
5:30 p.m..: Your long adventure is at an end. Arrive at Christina’s and lounge in the infinity pool to cool off before hunger or fatigue strike. If you had a garment tailored the day before, make sure to get your second fitting done prior to plopping in the pool. The fittings will take no more than 30 minutes top. Make your way to Pho Xua on 35 Phan Châu Trinh. This is a small eatery with a menu full of the regional specialties like Cao Lau, hearty noodles made with mystical well water. Interested in learning more about this dish? Let our guides from Onetrip give you the proper instruction on how to dig in this magical bowl. If you want to head back to Christina’s and are afraid of missing out, you can order a bowl of Cao Lau at The Joi Factory, which is open until 10 p.m.
For more awesome tours from Onetrip, click here.
Day Three: Beach Bum
10 a.m..: Rise and shine! It’s your last day in Hoi An and you’ve earned a day of doing nothing. Slept in and missed breakfast? Ready that bike and make your way to Ancient Town. You will roll through the surrounding Tra Que Village. This is an agricultural wunderkind where the farmers prohibit the use of chemical pesticides on their vegetables. Continue on to Madame Khanh’s banh mi shop on 115 Trần Cao Vân, who in my opinion, beats the Bourdain-endorsed Banh Mi Phuong on 2B Phan Châu Trinh, for a loaded breakfast banh mi.
11 a.m..: Your new clothes are ready! Pick up the fresh attire at Bebe’s Tailors, but if you’re feeling pinched on time, you can always have them deliver it to Christina’s free of charge. Travel back down the main street of Nguyen Trung To and get your swimsuit for a full day of fun in the sun.
Present a 10% off voucher that you can pick up at the Christina’s lobby upon payment.
12:30 p.m..: Cycle in the opposite direction of Ancient Town for about 1-km to An Bang Beach. Most guidebooks state there are two beaches in Hoi An, An Bang and Cua Dai, but Cua Dai has recently eroded away. All you’ll find in its wake is a long stretch of sandbags and abandoned beachfront properties. Apply that sunblock because you’re about to get your tan on. At An Bang Beach, you can rent beach chairs with umbrellas for shade for 50,000 VND for the whole day. And if you’re hankering for a snack or beverage, the neighboring restaurants will cater to you.
When parking your bicycle, don’t get zipped by the fake parking lot vendors. They will ask for 10,000 VND per bike but the correct price is 1,000 VND. If the hawkers are hassling you, simply approach the white guard kiosk at the entrance of the beach and you’ll be directed to the right parking and given the correct amount.
6:00 p.m…: After the sun has set, walk along the coast until you find Soul Kitchen, An Bang’s first all-in-one social hotspot. Part bar, lounge, and restaurant, the chill vibes makes for a low-stress, great night out. Scope the scene and snag one of the coveted cabanas if they are available. The menu is simple, but good, with international picks and the local fare so there is something for every eater. Stay for the live music and make sure that hand isn’t empty! The cocktails are mixed well and are the right amount of strong. Bottoms up!