Category Archives: Hoi An

Hoi An Shopping

It can be overwhelming. Tailor shops on every corner, echoes of ‘you buy shoes here’, cheeky sales girls pulling you into their auntie’s store. Eeegh. Here are a few of the more tried and true options.  The key things to remember are: best to go with something they have done before, bring a picture or bring an item to copy. You ARE paying for tailor made clothes so be fussy! If you ask for a certain cuff, they should do it! It may take 3 or 4 fittings but make sure they get it right and don’t give up.

Personally I avoid the market- it is too busy and there is too much confusion with the tailors (ie- all the clothes are sent out to be sewn in workshops around town and often at the market I hear stories of them going missing or swapping fabric)

Mr Xe- A bit of a legend in Hoi An, Mr Xe has been around for a long time and gained a solid reputation for offering well-priced, high quality wears. His girls can be a bit grumpy at times, but he is always smiling and will ensure your items fit the way you want them to…he personally takes them to his tailors to tell them how to fix/adjust the items so there is no middle man. What he excels in: business shirts and button-up short sleeve shirts, casual shorts and skirts, and winter coats. I’ve seen some nice men’s suits come out of there but his fabric selection for suits is not as extensive as other places in town.

71 Nguyen Thai Hoc

Yaly- The biggest, baddest tailor shop in town…and I mean that in a good way. What makes Yaly unique is that their tailors are on site AND its air conditioned. This means that when you are trying on your items, the person who sewed it is there with you seeing the adjustments that need to be made and you will be nice and cool while doing so. What this also means is, you will pay more- less than at home but certainly more than other Hoi An shops. I would particularly recommend Yaly for business suites purely because their fabrics are better as well as those of a slightly older generation who want a more comfortable shopping experience (the sales girls are not pushy). Also very ‘special’ item should be done at Yaly- I know several folks have wedding dresses/suits made there.

Several outlets in town but the largest is the original shop at 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc.

Hieu Da Leather- The quality of leather in Vietnam is not great but these guys tend to have the best and are excellent sewers (I had an English seamstress recently tell me how good their work is). Go here for leather jackets…certainly the best in town.

85 Tran Phu Street

The First- A long-running, quality shoe shop. A bit out of the town center but worth the walk. The gals speak excellent English and have a good eye for funky new designs. They are very good with boots as well, ensuring the fit is to your specifications. The selection of leather is not great but remember you get what you pay for.

275 Nguyen Duy Hieu

Ixora- For off the rack clothes, Ixora is a great option. Very airy, light designs with a bohemian feel to the range. The owner is from Hanoi but has lived in France which is evident from the designs and shop layout. (she’s also one of the partners of Puku Café in Hanoi) There is also a selection of jewelry for sale from her sister’s shop Memory.

Nguyen Thai Hoc Street

Avana- Also offering off the rack clothes, Avana is the brain child of two Belgian designers. Prices are a bit high but the designs are superb- very different from the standard Hoi An offerings.

15 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street (Across the Japanese Bridge)

 

Randy’s Book XChange- Hoi An (and possibly Vietnam’s) best used book store is run by the knowledgeable Randy, an American expat. He has an extensive collection of real books (ie- not photocopies) tucked away in his shop on Can Nam Island.

Cross the bridge to Can Nam, take your second right and follow the signs.

Written by Anne Courtney Cruickshanks (living and working in Hoi An)

Hoi An Restaurants

VIETNAMESE RESTAURANTS

Morning Glory- The best Vietnamese food in a nice setting is to be had at Morning Glory. The concept is to bring traditional street/village food into a real restaurant setting and the result is some of the freshest Vietnamese food in town at a reasonable price.

Ngueyn Thai Hoc

Hong Phuc- The guide books all suggest café 98 for fish in banana leaf, but I reckon Hong Phuc’s is way better. Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game here. Décor is lacking but the atmosphere is relaxed and the river views are fabulous. Order the fish in banana leaf, scallops and whatever else the lovely Ms Ly and her team recommend.

86 Bach Dang Street (riverfront)

 

Lighthouse- A bit more romantic, this cozy house is located on Can Nam Island (you can walk or take the free shuttle boat that leaves from Bach Dang Street) The Dutch/Vietnamese couple are extremely hospitable and the food can be cooked to your liking.

To 5, Thon Xuyen Trung Cam Nam Island

 

INTERNATIONAL

51 Phan Boi Chau

Mango Mango

The second restaurant of local legend chef Duc, this riverside spot is chilled out and offers fabulous fusion cuisine. Combining Pacific Rim flavors with Mexican spices at time, Duc’s concoctions are layered with flavor yet never overpowering. The food is well presented, staff are charming and cocktails are yummy. A bit pricey but nothing compared to back home.

45 Nguyen Phuc Chu

Cargo Club

Yes, its mentioned in every guidebook. The food is good and thus the good reviews but it tends to be packed with tour groups. However there is one reason to go- the chocolate mousse cake is to die for.

Nguyen Thai Hoc

Written by Anne Courtney Cruickshanks

Hoi An Street Food

Unlike Hanoi and HCMC, Hoi An’s street dining is um, not fabulous- but there are a few noteworthy places. Thankfully there are dozens of good restaurants to make up for it!

Com Ga Hoi An- Yes, its chicken rice. It can’t be that exciting, right? Well its not but Hoi An is known for it and there is one place that does it justice…a little street stall on a busy intersection.

Corner of Nguyen Truong To and Ly Thuong Kiet

Mi Quang and Cao Lao- These are also two traditional Hoi An dishes that every restaurant serves but serves in an average way. There is one hole in the wall local shop (called Hai) that does a great job and has cold beers too. It’s tucked in a small alley between Phan Boi Chau and Nguyen Dieu Hieu. It’s 15,000 VND per bowl but you’re likely to get charged 30,000… try to pay 20,000 as a happy compromise!

Banh Mi- One thing the Hoi An folks have nailed down are their banh mi (baguettes). Unlike the airy, sugary versions in Hanoi and HCMC, these ones have loads of flavor and texture. The best lady sets up on the outside of the local market on Hong Dieu street from around 7 AM until 4PM. Ask for it ‘thap cam’ and she’ll throw in all the goodies or simply point to what you want (note: the green chilis are HOT)

Bale Well- Between a street restaurant and a ‘real’ restaurant, this is a fabulous spot for a meal with friends. You’ll feel like you are at a local bia hoi but with a bit more comfortable seating. It’s all open-cooking of things like grilled pork skewers, spring rolls and banh xeo. Go for the set menu. Excellent value.
45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street

Written by Anne Courtney  Cruickshanks

Hoi An – what to do

Hoi An is a great place to do nothing except shop, eat and relax. And trust me, there is nothing wrong with this (especially if you’ve been traveling for a while!). But should you feel like getting active there are some great options in the area.

Hoi An Photo Tours- Run by locally-based French man (and all-around nice guy) Etienne, these tours are a fab way to get to see a different side of Hoi An. He has a great reputation with the local villagers and fishermen which means you get that ‘insider access’ to the best photos. Even if you are not a serious photographer, Etienne’s tours are a great day out, especially the sunrise fisherman’s tour. Visit www.hoianphototour.com or call + 84 (0)9 05 671 898

Hoi An Motorbike Adventures- Rev up your motorbike and set off for the countryside. Tours range from half day excursions to 3-day drives along country roads. The guides are fun and informative, stopping often for photos or random cups of tea (or rice wine!) with the locals. Russian Minsk are the bikes of choice, but other options are available as well as pillion tours for non-drivers. As Mark likes to say ‘Walking is overrated’! Read more here: http://www.motorbiketours-hoian.com/ , call +84 (0) 918 230 653 (Mark) or pop into their office at 54A Phan Chau Trinh Street.

Thuan Tinh Island Cooking Tour- This is not your spit and polished fine-culinary experience but rather a very local, unique cooking class that is guaranteed fun. Start with a visit to Hoi An’s Market, then take a boat trip to Thuan Tinh Island to visit the local organic vegetable village. You switch to a small row boat to reach Ms Hoa’s house where its time to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes. Cook, eat, enjoy the tranquility and then transfer back to Hoi An. Call +84 (0) 906 477 770 to book.

Hire a local Moto Driver- Of course you can hire your own motorbike, but spending a morning on the back of Mr Binh’s motorbike you’ll see the best local spots around. And it also allows you to stop and drink a few beers without worrying about driving after! His English isn’t perfect but he is a real sweet guy and will be drive you wherever you wish to go in and around Hoi An (and call mates if there is more than 1 of you). 0905 565 155

Travel Advice/Tour Arrangement- If you want to go out to My Son, need plane/train/bus tickets or need a transfer arranged at a fair price, I recommend going to Seventeen’s Travel. The owner, Ms Phuong, and her family (Nam and Ha) are lovely and will work around your budget and schedule.

17 Tran Hung Dao Street

 

Written by Anne Courtney  Cruickshanks (lives and works in Hoi An)

Hanoi Street Food

Vietnamese food has just been voted the healthiest cuisine in the world and it is also so tasty, diverse and seriously cheap. A general rule, as with any country is this. Eat only where locals are eating, of course if you are new into asia your stomach may not be too happy, try new things and don’t be afraid to point at a dish that looks good and go for it.

The way restaurants are pretty much set up in Vietnam is that each restaurant (when I say restaurant it probably resembles more like red plastic chairs, minimal decoration and possibly outside) each place generally serves just a couple of dishes that they specialise in. Tourist places normally have a menu with everything under the sun and most of the food is adapted to tourists and in my opinion, not as tasty as eating local style.

The Vietnamese eat at very particular times of the day and if you want street food that isn’t between 6am – 9am, 11.30 – 1pm or 5.30pm – 8pm you might have problems finding it. There is always 24 hour street food street which has local places open all night serving soups, noodles, rice etc and also a fantastic bar called Puku that serves western food and alcohol (YAY) throughout the night at reasonable prices. This is in Tong Duy Tan Street a short taxi drive away from Hoan Kiem Lake (too far too walk).

Food you have to try when in Hanoi (in no particular order, with my favourite spots to eat each dish, but there are plenty of others)

Bun Cha

This is thin white round noodles served on a plate, served seperately in a bowl with grilled pork, lettuce, herbs and then normally they have a tub of raw garlic and chilli on the side. The bowl with pork etc has broth in it and you add the noodles and herbs/lettuce to it and eat. It’s delicious, possibly not the healthiest but is famous in Hanoi and definitely worth a try. Bun Cha is also served with deep fried crab spring rolls (Nem Rua),  if you don’t want these just say ‘Khong Muon Nem’. My favourite Bun Cha is either on Nguyen Du in the French Quarter or Hang Manh in the Old Quarter. Prices are set  and normally between 20,000 – 30,000 dong per bowl, have no idea how much the spring rolls are as am allergic to crab 😉

Pho Ga/Bo – prounounced ‘fur’

This is the staple diet of Vietnamese people and normally eaten for breakfast. It is a noodle soup with either Ga (chicken) or Bo (beef). In Hanoi I personally prefer the chicken and in the south of Vietnam I prefer the beer. Although the south is very different to the north pho, I prefer the southern but my northern friends would kill me for saying that. The Vietnamese take their pho very seriously. Eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner it doesn’t really matter. I normally pay between 15,000 – 25,000 depending on where I am. This is a great breakfast option, don’t be shy to sit down on the tiny stools with the locals, slurp it up and spit the bits you don’t like onto the floor! The best Pho in town (cleanest and no MSG), apart from Pho 24 which is a rip off, is the Pho place on 10 Ly Quoc Su (about 3 mins walk north of cathedral). The Pho Tai is my fave, half done beef and is 25,000 VND per bowl.

Bun Bo Nam Bo

Me and my house mate, Kerstin, live on this. Its healthy, cheap and fills you up. Its basically a big bowl with noodles, a tiny bit of broth, fried beef, shallots, herbs, peanuts, bean sprouts and other stuff. You add chilli sauce and soya sauce to it and it rocks. The best Bun Bo Nam Bo in town is near where Hang Da meets Yen Thai just north of Hang Bong in the Old Quarter. Next time I go I will get their actual address. Its 40,000 dong for a bowl.

Pho Cuon

Alright, so by now you are probably realising that I love a combintation of beer and noodles, and here is another one… These are wet spring rolls (they use pho sheets to wrap) with beef and herbs/salad in the middle. They are dipped in a chilli/fish sauce and are great as a snack. Pho Cuon is found by Truc Bach lake (between Old Quarter and West Lake), ask a taxi for Sofitel Plaza and walk back down along the lake. There are spaces by the lake where you can sit on mats and watch the world go by. These places also serve ‘Lau’ hot pots (like steam boats) and great clams with lemongrass and chilli. 10 pho cuon normally cost about 30,000 dong. I love to sit by the lake, eat pho cuon, drink beers on a nice weekend afternoon. Its a very local thing to do (as long as you don’t mind sitting crossed legged for hours at end).

Bun Ca

Ca is fish in Vietnamese and Bun is noodle. This is basically fish noodle soup (sometimes they fry the fish, other times its boiled. The soup is a bit sour and has cooked tomatoes along with other spices/herbs. Its an aquired taste but I like it. My favourite place, although rather random just because its near my house, is on Dang Thai Mai near west lake.

BBQ Chicken

Forget Nandos, KFC etc, Hanoi has a whole street devoted to selling delicious, cheap bbq chicken. Its def worth hanging out here and helping the chicken down with some beers. Get a taxi there, the address is Ly Van Phuc (get a taxi, about 15 mins drive from Old Quarter), just off Nguyen Thai Hoc before you reach the stadium, it’s a right turn where you see all the smoke and chicken pieces. YUMMY!

There is street food on every corner, and some of it is delicious and some not so but don’t be afraid to try. Be careful of any place with ‘cho’ advertised – it means dog, also ‘meo’ (less common) which means cat. You can get fried rice (com rang) or fried noodles with beer (my xao bo). Also very popular for a snack is Banh My which is a fluffy baguette, they normally sell with pate (delicious but it is normally out in the sun all day so be careful), fried egg, dairylea slices, tomato.

For veggies, I am told that Bun Do is good which is a tofu soup (I hate tofu so never tried it), and you can always say ‘an chay’ which means vegetarian food.

Just came across this which might help http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/eat/asia-street-food-cities-612721?page=0,5