After a hectic and noisy few days in Hanoi and Halong Bay, I was so inspired by Hoi An – a city where fairytale Vietnam comes to life.
The Magic of Hoi An
For me, Hoi An was the floating colourful lanterns sleepily drifting through the murky waters and trawling underneath the Japanese bridge; it was the parked boats touting business in the evening when the night lights cast a glowing shadow on the waters, reminiscent of the Venetian gondolas without any of the pretence; it was the traditional, fragrant Hoi An white rose dumplings that beautifully encapsulated the grace and beauty of Hoi An as a place; it was the warmth, kindness and sincerity of the people, of the people throughout Vietnam in fact.
Buying made-to-measure tailored clothes in Hoi An
The tailoring of fabrics and leather has gone viral in Hoi An. It must have one of the highest proportions of tailors per square mile anywhere in the world and in a small town of only four main streets, there are literally hundreds to choose from. I am anything but a shopaholic but here, it is near impossible not to nab a bargain.
Bespoke clothes, suits, boots, shoes, belts and bags are the mainstream the way tea and toast are in England with prices that would tempt even the most disciplined into sinning. So I sinned – with dresses, a coat, shoes and a travel bag. Think of it as an investment (I had to – it was the only way I could justify the big shopping spree to myself) 😀It is impossible to know where to start with selecting a tailor I imagine most of them are very similar. We ultimately chose Yaly Couture, one of the original companies in Hoi An with several branches in the city. It is a little bit more expensive than its competitors and we selected this one based on its positive reviews. The fitting was precise and well-measured for both shoes and clothes and I was delighted with how they turned out on the day of the big reveal.
Unfortunately, the quality of the boot heels and soles failed to match that of the leather finish and flattering fit – I had to get them both re-soled and re-heeled after just a few wears back in rainy England.
I managed to persuade Pumpkin to get himself a jacket – the boy works hard and deserves a treat (plus when one reaches their thirties and their husband still does all his shopping at TK Maxx, one does despair as a wife.)Once you’ve had your fix of catalogue-browsing and fabric-fondling, take time to stroll down Hoi An’s narrow streets taking in the charm of the Japanese bridge and soaking up the aromas of Vietnam’s enticing cuisine.
And if the spices and smells stimulate the rumbles in your tummy, head over to one of the numerous cookery schools to master the skills to be able to recreate the dishes in your own home before rounding off with a Vietnamese drip coffee in one of the most charming coffee houses in the world. For those of you interested in cultural and religious monuments, two or three intimate temples are within easy walking distance.
The Beaches of Hoi An
Hoi An is the perfect equilibrium of culture, food, shopping and beach. Unlike the renowned world famous beaches of its neighbours Thailand and Malaysia, the beaches of Vietnam often get neglected by global travellers seeking sandy stretches.And whilst it doesn’t have the snowy white shorelines you’ll spot in the Maldives (but seriously, where does?!) the coast was breathtaking, peaceful and decidedly less touristy than many other beaches I’ve visited across the world. We stayed at the Victoria Hoi An resort, which offered free and quick shuttle services into the town, allowing us a relaxing retreat after a hectic few days in Hanoi without compromising our ability to see Hoi An. There’s s something curiously intriguing about Hoi An that just catches you offguard – it’s that flirtation you know you shouldn’t be having that makes your heart skip a beat and you can’t help yourself from falling. That’s the Hoi An spell. If you’re heading to Vietnam, why not see for yourself? Your secret is safe with me.
Part of the #SundayTraveler link up