Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hoi An - Venice of the East?

Hoi An, Vietnam - We arrived in Hoi An after 3 relaxing days in Hue.  Hue was a nice contrast to the hectic pace of Hanoi.  We visited the citadel which is the main site to see in Hue and walked around the town a fair bit.  We contemplated doing a tour to the DMZ (Demilitarized zone) but the bus tour sounded like a nightmare (6am-7pm) with most of that spent on the bus and the private tour was too expensive ($100 for a private car!) 

We also spent one of our days mostly in the hotel as Betsy had come down with a bit of a cold. This gave me a chance to catch up on some internet posting and cull through our photos and finally get some of those posted on the website.

We had a spectacular drive over the mountains to Hoi An.  It is about a 4-5 hour trip and we made a couple of stops along the way.  We stopped at Lang Co Beach which is a pretty nice beach with a run down resort.  It looks like it might have been a  happening place during the war but is pretty run down now.

We also stopped at Ha Van Pass, a 500m high mountain pass that has stunning views of the surrounding hills and the sea.  It is quite a drive up there through steep switchbacks crisscrossing the jungle.

Hoi An is a very pretty city.  The reason I call it the "venice of the east" is the staggering number of tourists here!  There is also a canal/river down the middle of the city.  Last night was the full moon festival so there were more people than usual out, there were floats lit up in the middle of the river and people were lighting candles and floating them down the river.  There was also some music and some kind of bingo/50-50 draw being played out which we couldn't figure out in the slightest.

We may stay here a couple of days longer as our hotel is quite comfortable (it has a pool!) but also we have some things we want to do.  We want to do a cooking course, visit My Son (some ruins), Betsy wants to finally hit a spa, plus we want to tour around the city and maybe even hit the beach a couple of days.  So while Hoi An is very touristy (Like Venice) it is also very nice (like Venice).

From here we are deciding where to go, Nha Trang, Dalat or even straight to Saigon all remain possibilities.

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