After reading all kind of negative reviews about night buses in Southeast Asia, we were a bit apprehensive about the following 15 hours.
It was around 1:30 PM when the bus stop in front of our hostel, apparently everything was clean inside and the seats were not so uncomfortable as we thought they were. The only thing that was bothering and very common in Southeast Asian countries, the way they use the air condition. There´s no middle term between outside and inside temperature.
Right above our seats, there was this intolerable cold breeze coming from an old fan that was completely jammed and impossible to close. It was useless to ask the driver to put it warmer cause he didn’t speak any English so we had to find a way to fix it with whatever we had at hand.
It didn´t take long to resolve the problem. A piece of paper, a chewing gum and “voilá”. Almost like MacGyver, resolving all of his life or death crises with ingenuity. 😀
Only with some bumpy roads and a few stops in the middle of nowhere to go to the “toilet”, everything went smooth till 8:00 AM.
We finally arrived in Hoi An known as the Venice of Vietnam, a little cosy and charming town with its old area listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once, the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, a strategic point to control the spice trade with Indonesia.
Viva Homestay was the place where we slept for 3 nights. Luckily, with free bikes for customers, we pedal for 7 min reaching downtown where everything was so beautiful. Especially, its architecture characterized by a harmonious blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese influences.
The entrance to downtown is for free, but to the main historic sites, people have to pay 120,000 Dongs (less than $6), a ticket pass that allows entering in five attractions. The options are between museums, old houses, assembly halls, the handicraft workshop, the traditional theatre, Quan Cong Temple or even the small Japanese covered bridge.
There are also many buildings where you can enter for free as we did. One of the busiest spots is the Japanese Bridge, but during the night, it’s less crowded and opened for free. 😉
Downtown is worth visiting particularly in the evening when all the lights are on. The yellow houses and the red lanterns create a romantic and warm atmosphere. There are several cool and fancy restaurants, boutiques, little art galleries in every corner, and a central market in the end of the main road.
To end our day we had a wonderful dinner in one of those restaurants on the river banks trying Vietnamese specialities as banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), banana leaf salad, fresh spring rolls, and banh bot loc (shrimp dumplings).
Next day we grab our bikes and went for a 3 km ride till the Cua Dai Beach, a touristy point packed with people. However, more attractive than the coastline of Vung Tau. The water and sand were really clean!
On our way back to the hostel we decided to explore the countryside through narrow sand roads and marshes overgrown with grass where we had the opportunity to see several buffaloes and frog hunters.
Hoi An was a good surprise, we fall in love with this small town and pity we had to say goodbye. The minibus was parked right in front of our door, waiting to take us to Da Nang, a short distance trip that could have ended not so well…