Destinations

Destination Review: Hoi An, Vietnam

Samantha Begg

Landing in Danang we were filled with excitement about fresh food, pho soups, culture and temples, and lots of relaxation.

First stop was our hotel, the Four Seasons Hoi An, recommended to us by friends as one of the best hotels in Asia – it didn’t disappoint.

Having stayed at numerous Four Seasons around the world, the service was outstanding and the rooms were beautiful – and an upgrade to a beachfront villa was much appreciated.

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The online butler service was a favourite, responding within seconds to our requests, whether it be ice delivered to the room or a buggy ride to breakfast.

The pools were exceptional, with one heated, a dedicated family and two adults only pool. Plus, the poolside menu is great! We recommend the seafood salad, the prawn fried rice and the frozen margarita (which is enormous).

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The day spa is beautiful, positioned on a peaceful lake with individual villas for treatment rooms and a regular nighttime thank you to Mother Earth complete with a singing bowl ceremony, letter writing and candle offering on the lake.

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We also recommend a day trip to Marble Mountain and My Son.

Make sure you pay for the lift up Marble Mountain as the free stairs are hard going, particularly in wet weather. My Son was around 60 minutes drive but well worth the trip – the ruins are incredible, and are on par with Ankur Wat.

My Son Hindu temples panorama

The old city of Hoi An was a beautiful surprise, just 10 minutes from the hotel – on our first night we walked into the old town to be greeted with hundreds of brightly lit lanterns, boats adorned with lanterns and locals offering candles in paper baskets to set adrift on the river with a wish.

Beware the boat owners proclaiming it is a one-night event – it happens every night, so no need to jump on board a boat straight away.

Night view of busy street in Hoi An, Vietnam.

On a whim, we threw out all the reviews and recommendations and ventured away from the riverfront.

And we’re glad we did- Lining up with a crowd of waiting diners outside Ms Lys, we felt we had finally tapped into a local favourite. They even served good NZ wine.

So where does a foodie eat in Hoi An? Ms Vy’s market was amazing. It’s designed for travellers who are reticent to brave the street food, yet want all the flavours of traditional Vietnamese food. The service is fantastic too.

The chicken pho didn’t disappoint, the deep fried whole snapper with tamarind sauce was exceptional, for vegetarians the mushroom and tofu soup was mind-blowing, and for dessert don’t overlook the tapioca pudding with bananas.

Traditional Vietnamese food. Soups, rolls and fresh herbs. Plates on a wooden surface.

The wine list is also incredibly reasonable with a good Sauvignon Blanc from France costing around 490,900 VD. The average meal here is around AU$8 and was the best food we had in Hoi An.

We went back many times to eat and they always delivered a fresh, traditional and delicious Vietnamese dishes with great service.

The day and night markets are also well worth a visit and the local shopping is filled with bargains for the savvy shopper – Asian homewares, local souvenirs, and silk clothes are all very reasonably priced.

A walk around the Old Town and it’s famous bridges is a must see, you could spend a few days exploring the many streets and alleys.

We loved Hoi An and it’s architecture and culture – it’s one of the most unique places we’ve visited. The Four Seasons completes the experience with its stunning gardens, exceptional service and it’s unique philosophy with its daily mantras like ‘Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy’.

As Buddhist wannabes, we loved these added touches – it’s all this and more at the Four Seasons Hoi An.

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