A Postcard from Hoi An

Part 3 of our summer tour of Vietnam took us to Hoi An, one of my favourite places in Vietnam. It’s small, quiet and full of charm (and usually tourists).

Little streets and alleys filled with houses painted as warmly as the sun. Brightly coloured lanterns line the pavements, waving gently in the breeze. At night, with bustling streets full of tourists and touters, it’s sometimes a struggle to tackle the crowd. The scent of leather gently wafts from the shoemakers’ shops. Rows upon rows of fabric in every shade, pattern and material line the shelves in the numerous tailors dotted along the roads. Blossom and flowers add even more colour. Delicious food sizzling, bright boats bobbing. Wooden shutters and ochre walls. Cute cafes serving up the tastiest of brunches. If Vietnam were a cup of coffee, Hoi An would be the condensed milk: sweet and moreish. The place I’ve visited so much, it’s my home away from my home from home. 

Yet this time, it’s different. Intense summer heat fills the streets as people hide inside. Shutters are closed and the lights are switched off. Signs stuck up on the doors of favourite restaurants, ‘We will close from 23 March for 2 weeks.’ It’s July now. Is this a temporary pause or are they closed forever? The businesses that are open offer discounts and deals to entice us in. They’re thrilled to see us, to have customers.

At night, there’s still the crowds, but they’re much smaller now. A huddle rather than a swarm. Seeing this town I love without the crowds makes me feel fortunate but sad. I hope business picks up again.

Read the rest of my ‘A Postcard from…’ collection here, including Cambodia, Mai Chau and Sapa.

Find a range of posts about Vietnam here, from travel tips to photo diaries.

My favourite hotel in Hoi An is Lasenta. With beautiful views over the rice paddies and located in a quiet area of town, it’s the perfect place to relax.

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