Last fall, when I was 5 months pregnant with Iris, we went to Hoi An in Vietnam.
I think a lot of people in Europe and America see ”Asia” almost as one big country, but obviously that’s not the case. Going from Japan to Vietnam really feels like coming to foreign lands in terms of culture, language, climate etc.
Hoi An is a historic city listed as a world heritage and immensely popular among tourists. Even though we went there during low season (rainy season!) the place was packed.
You could tell the locals were used to having all the tourists around and, whether they truly liked it or not, they were all super-friendly.
We were constantly being asked where we were from and upon answering ”Japan” I was always told ”You don’t look Japan”. Which, with my Scandinavian appearance I suppose is a correct observation. 😉
Also, even though we went during a supposedly ”cooler” season it was so hot! We were constantly sweating copiously (perhaps a bit TMI).
The first thing you need to do if you’re weak and fair-skinned like me is thus to get yourself a decent hat. Which shouldn’t be too hard to find considering that Hoi An is famous for its market and its tailors. You absolutely must have clothes tailor-made for you if you come here. I made five pair of shoes and a dress, and Aki had a suit made for him.
Basically you can easily spend a couple of days in Hoi An just walking about in the city, making bargains at the market and the local shops. You’ll probably walk away with a couple of fake brand-bags and wallets feeling you’ve just made the best deal ever but the locals are most likely laughing behind your silly tourist back for being so easily lured into paying at least twice the amount they would. Which is part of the experience I suppose 😉
At night, you can go to the night market and see Hoi An’s famous lanterns and buy souvenirs.
We made a couple of memorable trips outside of Hoi An, f.ex. to the old Hindu temples called ”My Son” which obviously has nothing to do with the English meaning of the words. (Fun fact; thank you in Vietnamese sounds something like ”come on”)
The only thing you really need to beware of in Hoi An (and from what I’ve heard, Vietnam in general) is traffic. Southeast Asia is infamous for its many motorbikes and we were almost killed at least twice. One time our taxi driver (taxis are cheap so you can take them anywhere) bumped into a guy on a motorbike who seemed a bit injured. The taxi driver just went out and had a chat with him and then everyone went on with their business. Especially if you’re traveling with young children you should be extra careful when crossing the street.
Lastly I’d like to recommend the hotel we stayed at, Hoi An beach resort. Not to pricy but nice, with an awesome pool, friendly staff, spa, and conveniently located close to the city but still in a calm area. We spent so much time in that pool.
And oh, do NOT forget to try the delicious street food such as the banh mi-sandwich!