Tag: City

Hello Hue

The second stop of our north to south journey across Vietnam is Hue. Hue is located halfway the long thin shaped country. We travelled from Hanoi to Hue by nightbus. A 12 hour lasting trip, leaving at 7 PM. We arrived in Hue at 6 AM, guess we had a bus driver with a heavy right foot. Tickets for night busses are generally easy obtainable at your accommodation. We booked ours at the Rendezvous hostel in Hanoi.

Besides the fact that you don’t want to be traveling in a nightbus for more than 12 hours, Hue is a little city with some pretty insteresting sights. A two night stay here is long enough to see all things necessary. After these two nights you’ll be fully recharged to commence your epic motorcycle trip from Hue to Hanoi, crossing the beautiful Hai Van Pass. More on that later!

Imperial City

Probably the major tourist attraction in Hue. This ancient part of Hue is surrounded by walls. Several generations of emperors and their family and staff lived here. We visited this magnificent place on a beautiful sunny day. Which resulted in heaps of great photos! Check the weather forecast before visiting because it’s not worth visiting the  Emperor’s city on a rainy day.

One of the many beautiful structures inside the Imperial City
View of the gardens and the entrance gate

There are some tombs to visit around Hue. However the weather on our second day in Hue didn’t allow us to visit them. You can either rent a motorbike yourself or go on a tour with a local. Most accommodations can arrange this for you.
Where to eat

To be honest, Hue was not particularly a culinary highlight of our journey through Vietnam. There are some local specialties like Banh Xeo, a fried shrimp pancake, which I tried, but it’s not that big of a deal.

Risotto restaurant

Like I said, Hue is not the place for enjoying local cuisine, plus we had a secret craving for some western food. Going in to this touristy restaurant with TripAdvisor logos everywhere, was not a bad decision at all! They serve proper pizza here and the risotto with green peas and chorizo I had was delicious!

Boulangerie Francaise 

This tiny French bakery cafe is ideal for breakfast or lunch. Another thing which is to like about this boulangerie is that they teach underprivileged kids from the streets to work here.

Where to drink

Roots coffee

A nicely designed coffee bar which was located right next to our hotel. A Triumph bonneville as decor and great coffee and smoothies is wat we loved about this place. They also have a motorbike parking facility next door, where some pretty cool bikes are stalled.

Now that’s a good sense of style! A Bonnie as decor!


Bar next to Boulangerie Francaise

I’m sorry but I could not discover the name of this cost bar located next to the French bakery. We spotted it during lunch and decided to visit it later on. A nice place with ridiculously cheap beers during happy hour. There’s live music performed by locals every night from approximately 8PM!

DMZ bar

Located in the main bar street you can’t really miss the DMZ bar. They claim to be the first bar of Hue. With its cool army look interior and old school hip hop and R&B tunes, it’s a nice place to have a couple of beers.

Where to stay

Tanh An Guesthouse

You’ll get serious value for money here. It’s located in a little alley, but their sign is at the main road so it’s easy to find. Once you pass the reception on the corner you will most likely be welcomed by the hilariously funny and singing host. Comfy spacious double rooms at only 5 USD per person per night. The Imperial city and my recommended bars and restaurants are all within maximum half an our walking distance. Check for availability here.

Hue to Hoi An by motorcycle 

We were tipped by fellow travelers Asweroam to book a motorbike at Motorvina. They offer one way motorbike rental including a luggage transfer. Which means that you can just drop your bags at their rental office in Hue, get on your bike, ride the Hai Van Pass to Hoi An, leave the motorcycle there and collect your bags at the Hoi An office. Highly recommended if there’s two of you riding one motorbike! Check out the availability of their bikes here. I rented the Honda XR 150 which was a great bike to take on the Hai Van Pass! It ain’t cheap but the one way service with luggage transfer is very convenient!

Our XR150, a very decent bike to take on the Hai Van Pass with!

Hi Hoi An!

Getting from Hue to Hoi An by motorcycle

We arrived in Hoi An, soaking wet as a result of continuous showers during our Hai Van Pass trip per motorbike. Unfortunately we did not get to see the beautiful views from the highest point of the pass. All we saw were raindrops in grey clouds, with a maximum sight of 30 meters. Accepting the fact that the rain water had reached body parts you’d rather keep dry, we kept on going. As soon as we crossed the top of the pass, the weather conditions improved.

We cruised through Da Nang and had our minds blown by the overwhelming amount of mega hotels and resorts. What surprised us even more, were the number of construction sites, developing even more tourist accommodations. We were glad we didn’t plan to stay in Da Nang and we continued our route towards Hoi An. At the point we nearly dried up, the rain came back, half an our later we were happy to arrive at our homestay called Holy Land, where we found a comforting hot shower.

After I returned the motorcycle to the Hoi An branch of Motorvina and collected our backpacks, I took a taxi back to our home stay. It was time to head into the city for something to eat!

Walking through the very charming old town we instantly felt this was a place where we would want to stay longer than the initially planned 3 nights. There’s just too many good street food stands, restaurants, bars, tailors. Read on to learn more about our favorite places in Hoi An!

Hoi An by biycle!
Tip: discover Hoi An by bicycle!

 

Where to eat

Hola Taco

After our motorcycle trip we were starving. We heard promising stories about this Mexican place so we went straight for Hola Taco the afternoon we arrived in Hoi An. Looking the prices we assumed they had a shared dining concept going on here. When our food order arrived we learned this wasn’t the case. The servings of nachos with pulled chicken and cheese, tacos with slow cooked beef and chicken enchiladas were humongous! And it was delicious too! I wonder who teached the all Vietnamese staff to cook this way! After taking numerous breaks from eating we managed to empty our plates. Ready to be rolled out of the restaurant.

Hola Taco Hoi Ain
Satisfy your Mexican food craving at Hola Taco!

Banh Mi competition

When traveling in Vietnam you can’t really miss the famous mixed pork meat sandwiches called Banh Mi. In Hoi An there are two places who claim to serve the very best Banh Mi pork sandwich of Vietnam. So it’s time to find out who’s right.

Banh Mi Phuong

It was actually celebrity foodie Anthony Bourdain who said this is the  place to get the best Banh Mi in Vietnam. Due to this claim Banh Mi Phuong is now extremely popular and you have to cue around lunchtime to get your hands on a fresh crisp French baguette stuffed with BBQ pork, cold cut pork meats and a special spiced pork pathé. Grab a seat inside the restaurant and wait to be served, otherwise get in line and order for take away. In my opinion ‘number 9’ on the menu is a delicious mixed pork sandwich, but my vote for best Banh Mi evaahh goes to the Banh Mi Queen. Another very good sandwich they serve here at Phuong is the hot tuna baguette!

Banh My Phuong
‘Number 9’ at Banh My Phuong

The Banh Mi Queen

Where there’s a menu to choose from at Banh My Phuong, it’s just one specific sandwich which is served at the Banh Mi Queen. Take a seat in the living room like setting, choose your drink and order the number of sandwiches you would like. Your only choice is wether you like chili or not, the rest is decided by the Queen. I usually ate two Banh Mi sandwiches with chili, because they are too damn tasty here to just have one! By the way, it is possible to order a Banh My Op La here, which is a vegetarian version with omelette, strongly recommended by Daphne.

Best Banh My at The Banh My Queen in Hoi Ain
The Banh My Sandwich made by the Queen, my absolute favorite!

Chips and Fish Café

So, the name and location aren’t this place’s strongest points. It’s located on the far left corner on the south bank of the river. It’s a quiet spot where you do still get nice views over the water. They  serve Bia Hoi at 15 cents plus the seafood here as well as the local specialties White Rose and Cao Lau are very tasty. A good place to eat when you’re on a budget!

Jim’s snackbar

Telling you about this place betrays us of craving some western food every now and then! The Dutch owner Jim stands for serving high quality fast food. And he’s serious about this! We ate the best burgers here since Fergburger in Queenstown New Zealand. Jim uses a blend of Australian beef kinds to make the perfect patties himself. He also serves special beers from all over the world. A must go! Check out my Stamp account for the exact location! Jim told us he was going to move his restaurant to a bigger building soon, so check the location before you visit and don’t miss it!

Best Burger in Hoi An, and beyond!
One of the best burgers I ever had at Jim’s Snackbar in Hoi An

Where to drink

Reaching Out Teahouse

Looking for a quiet place to completely relax with a cup of tea? Look no further. At reaching out you will be served by hearing and speaking impaired people. You order by filling out your choice on paper menu sheets. The Reaching Out Teahouse is an initiative of Reaching Out, an organization creating chances for disadvantaged people. There’s a workshop in Hoi An where disabled people craft the most beautiful traditional Vietnamese ceramic tea sets but clothing too. The shop is called Reaching Out and is located one block south behind the Teahouse. Bring a fat wallet as you visit because it isn’t cheap! If you’re not buying the shop is still worth paying a visit.

Enjoying tea and cookies at Reaching Out Teahouse
Not your ordinary cup of tea at Reaching Out Teahouse

Cocobox Hoi An

Easy to find, as there are two Cocobox locations in Hoi An. Niceley designed coffee houses serving great juices, smoothies and food. Look for some Dutch details in the interior when you’re there.

Smoothies at Cocobox Hoi An
Wake up call smoothie and something healthy with carrot. And a cool Sportster in the back.

The Espresso Station

If you really want to get your caffeine kick, halt at the espresso station! It’s tucked away in a little alley. There’s a small sign on the wall hinting you to turn right from the main street . Try their espresso to taste their craftsmanship. They roast their own beans in the coffee shop! Cool off with their delicious iced coconut and coffee treat!

Me trying out my new camouflage shirt at the Espresso Station’s terrace.

GAM

You’ll probably be attracted automatically by this pretty building close to the bridge crossing the river. It looks like a museum, which it is, for Gems and Artstones, explaining the name. There’s a Teagarden inside. Or you could soak up some sun and slurp some rosé at one of the benches at the front, like we preferred. A very nice place for a drink or two overlooking the busy main street .

Winebar at the GAM in Hoi An
Sippin’ rosé at the GAM winebar

K’noy Cafe

We accidentally discovered this place after we biked over the big bridge behind the market. A cool bar nicely designed out of recycled material only. Oil barrels serve as stools and when modified even as couches. Owner Phong has spent the last three months building up his bar. Relaxed place for a coffee, beer or cocktail, whatever works for you. It was also here where I met Roc, who took me to this cool workshop in Hoi An!

K'noy Bar Hoi An
The cool looking K’noy bar at the other side of the big bridge in Hoi An

Tailors

The first thing you’ll notice when wandering through Hoi An’s old town is the excessive amount of tailors. This is where you can get custom clothing made at very competing prices! Think of suits and shirts in endless color and print possibilities. And custom made dresses and jumpsuits for girls. The shops have big portfolios inside too choose a design from. Next, simply pick the color or print of your taste. It usually takes one day for them to make it. There are tailors everywhere in Hoi An, and most of them are on tripadvisor so you can check out some reviews. Daphne had two jumpsuits and a dress made at Thinh Cuong. This cothing shop is situated outside of the city centre on the way to the beach. We were browsing some shops there and noticed that the lady from the Thinh Cuong shop was very friendly and not pushy at all. Therefore we thought she deserved the business. At first, Daphne had only one jumpsuit made, to see wether this tailor would be any good. Of course, it turned out to be a success and another jumpsuit was ordered. One day later, when we went to collect it, the order for a custom dress was placed.