Posted by: James Shannon | December 12, 2011

Hoi An Part I: Lanterns and Long Lost Travel Friends

After taking off on latest series of night buses, and sorta sleeping through the night (before long I’ll get the sleeper bus merit badge to add to my traveller sash), I hopped off onto the dusty streets of Hoi An.  Commence the familiar routine of arriving in an unknown town on two hours sleep:

stumble, stumble, frighten off feral street dog by cocking arm that contains a hefty rock, stumble, “What, 600,000 dong a night?  No thanks!”, stumble, stumble, walk into a cafe, check for better ideas on good guesthouses while ordering spaghetti bolognese for breakfast (lol), stumble, stumble, “500,000 dong? How about 400, pretty please?  Ok whatever, I’m outta here”, stumble, stumble, “Oh wait, you’ll do 400?  Sweet!  Two nights please!”, stumble, stumble, collapse on bed!

 Several hours later, I awoke on top of one of the most luxurious beds that I’ve slept in throughout my time in Southeast Asia (maybe ever, it was that good) … at $23 a night, this place was the priciest place I stayed at during my entire trip!

   The hotel (whose title eludes me, as Vietnamese is like Chinese, only romanized, making long chains of hard to remember names) had a sweet courtyard, with a refreshing pool.  The mural is of Halong Bay, the iconic coastal array of limestone karsts that I couldn’t see because I ran out of time.  I’ll have to visit it during my next go-around in the region … maybe as soon as 2012, as I’m heading back to SE Asia in January!

   The gate of Hoi An’s Old Town, where a fee must be paid to help maintain its authenticity … very important, considering it was just named an UNESCO World Heritage Site…

 The true charm and attraction of Hoi An lies in the multi-coloured paper lanterns that light the streets of the old town at night.  Hoi An is also famous for their tailors, which are in abundant supply through the city.  I didn’t have any threads made while here, but again this may change when I make my way back to the region!

 More examples of the brilliant paper lanterns strung up everywhere throughout the old town…

 A shrine to a former member of the Vietnamese Communist Party, inside a house in the old town of Hoi An.

 Buddha images figure prominently among other wooden creations inside a shophouse in the old town of Hoi An.

 A couple enjoys a moment in one of the many bars and restaurants in and around the old town…

 … and when I walked into one of those previously mentioned establishments, who do I see behind the bar?  None other than Oli, one of the travellers I had linked up with from Lopburi, Thailand and journeyed with him and other companions to Chiang Mai!  He was actually managing the bar, having been there for two months already.  Wonder if he’s still there?

That’s not all on Hoi An: next time, we walk around town (and beyond) in the daylight!



  1. We are connected somehow through mutual friends on Linked In. I was in Hoi An in Feb and fell in love with it. Itching to get back to a dinner at the Morning Glory whose cookbook I have devoured. Make sure you go across the water to the wood carving area.
    Christmas in Paris, winter in Oz, back to France in March via Borneo and possibly Hoi An. Enjoy

    Nigel Orr

    • What mutual friend would that be (feel free to e-mail me )? Not in Vietnam at the moment, but I’ll check out that area when I’m back in the area … cheers!

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