Based on two previous visits, I consider Hoi An my favorite place in Vietnam. So we made Hoi An both the second and third stops on this year’s Vietnam itinerary. What the heck does that mean? In short, it means we booked stays at two different hotels — one at the beach 15 minutes from town, followed by a second stay right in town.
Just outside the town, on a beach along the South China Sea, is a very attractive Four Seasons resort. It’s considered one of the finest hotels in the country. I wanted to stay there for a few days and have a nice beach experience, but I didn’t want to compromise our stay in the town itself. So I booked four nights there, followed by another three nights at a place in town. It seemed kind of weird to book two hotels that are a 15-minute taxi ride apart, but what the heck.
It was a good call. After the urban chaos and excitement of Hanoi, we were ready to chill out on a beach already. So we caught a 90-minute flight to Danang in central Vietnam, followed by an easy 30-minute taxi ride to the Four Seasons. There we chilled out, never even going into town. We’d save that for a proper visit a few days later.
As we prepared to move into town, we wondered if it would still hold its charm. Our blog post from Hoi An nine years ago was really loaded up with pictures and raves about how much we loved the town. Spoiler alert: Once again, there is a big pile of pictures below — because the town is so lovely, colorful, and bustling. And more so than ever this year because we arrived here for the height of Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is Vietnam’s biggest holiday.
The greatest thing about Hoi An is that it’s such a lively town, but it’s small enough that you can hop on a bike and within minutes be riding along lush gardens and peaceful rice fields. Our fondest memory from nine years ago involved biking out to a rustic little restaurant called Baby Mustard, which we then called “one of the best meals we’ve ever had.” We were delighted to return this time to find that it hadn’t changed a bit. They still go out into the garden after you order to pick lettuces and herbs for your meal. And the food was still excellent and crazy inexpensive.
But wonderful Baby Mustard got one-upped this time. Jim was out on a long walk outside of town and happened upon another charming restaurant called Field. He booked us a table, and we headed out on our bikes for lunch the next day. Field was a bit fancier than Baby Mustard, the kind of place with nice napkins, a wine list, and even after dinner espressos. And the setting among rice fields was so spectacular that you want to enjoy all that and linger as long as possible. Heaven!