Hoi An :: Start of my Mi Quang Obsession

Da Nang and Hoi An was the start of the 11 day trip for Thuy and me in Central and North Vietnam 🇻🇳 We’re going to be joined by four additional team members a couple days in for North Vietnam. For now, we’re going to start with the city of Hoi An because it was my favorite! 🏮 And a bit of Da Nang because that’s where we flew into.

Here we go! #baconheo🐷

Thuy and Jo Hoi An adventure

Hoi An Day 1 :: Discovery 😯

✈️ My route to get to Hoi An started with flights from JFK > Frankfurt > Singapore > Da Nang then we took a Grab from Da Nang > Hoi An which is about an hour drive. ❗Tip: Grab is a locally used ride share app for cars, vans, scooters and motorcycles.

It was quick getting through immigration at Da Nang airport. Waiting for the bag took a little longer. After bag pickup was another scanner check right at the exit doors. This time, they only wanted to scan your personal item. There was someone arguing with security. I’m guessing they got their drone taken like Thuy did. ❗You need a permit to fly drones around Da Nang. They took Thuy’s drone for hostage because of this. Do you research before hand! You’ll have to come back the day you fly out and show them your flight details. If you aren’t planning to fly back out from Da Nang airport, you can try to purchase a cheap ticket out and show them that to pick up the drone. Not sure about any other way.

Thuy met me outside the airport. Grabbed a cab to our Airbnb/homestay. Settled in then wandered for food. Found a random lady selling mi quang on the sidewalk. I’ve never had mi quang before. Didn’t even know what it was but it was so good!! Don’t be deterred by all the napkin on the ground. That’s just how it is. The food is delicious and the ladies around were really friendly. This was also my favorite dish and location we ate at all trip! 🤤

🏠 Went back to our Airbnb/homestay: Kitty Homestay 

  • Simple room in someone’s house

  • Clean

  • Water in the fridge for you to take. They ask that you leave some money which is fair

  • I totally forgot their shower system is to wet the whole floor. No tub

  • Shower water didn’t get very cold

Went to exchange some money at the Sacombank Sơn Trà bank nearby. ❗Most places will only take very crisp, undamaged bills. That includes both your currency and local currency. The bank wouldn’t take the bill we had with small writing on it. Regardless, we got a really good rate that this bank. Almost the exact conversion price that we saw online. ❗Also important, you need to show your passport to exchange money.

Picked up some snacks, water and sunblock at Vincom Plaza to start our adventure. We visited a couple places before going to Hoi An on day 1: Thap Xa Loi,  Chua Linh Ung, Marble Mountain - but those will be for a different post. Right now, we’re going to jump to Hoi An.

All the lanterns!! All the lights!! 😍 I told Thuy I wanted to release floating lanterns. She said not to worry, a little girl will come up to us to ask us to buy them. Soon after, it happened.

We each released a lantern then were off to wander the pretty streets. I wonder how the lanterns get cleaned up after each night and who cleans them. 🤔

Lots of clothes stores and vendors selling random souvenirs. Light up flower crowns! We walk by a shop selling mot. Mot is a refreshing herbal drink made with lotus flowers and some other ingredients. We didn’t see mot on many other menus. Only saw one other sidewalk stand selling them.

We were hungry and ended up at the end of the restaurant block along the river. We were looking at a menu and saw mi quang Sold! They had an upstairs that we sat at with a view of the street and river. Great for people watching.

Took a Grab back to Da Nang. A guy approached us asking if we needed a ride but it was late and we didn’t trust a random person so we used the Grab app and ended up with him anyway. 😅

Hoi An Day 2 :: Food! 🤤

Started with visits to Ba Na Hills and My Son but we’re going to stick with the Hoi An story.

Thuy got the cab driver’s information from her first day in Vietnam because she felt he was genuinely friendly. His name is Duong 👋 We asked him if we could hire him to take us around for the day. Told him what our plans for the day were and ended up paying about 1,000,000 VND after tips.

On our way to Hoi An, Thuy asked him for food recommendations and mentioned we wanted banh xeo. He pulled over at a place right outside the city. Cute little banh xeos that came with banh trang. I’ve never had banh xeo with banh trang before. Usually just a big pile of leaves at home. Our driver didn’t eat with us. He admitted he wasn’t feeling well because his friend invited him out for drinks last night so he was hungover. 😂

Checked into our Airbnb, showered, napped before going out for food.

🏠 Airbnb: Hoa Thu Homestay

  • Right in the middle of the night market

  • Clean

  • Nice cold air conditioning

  • Nice cold water for the showers

  • Spacious room and bathroom

  • Shower flip-flops provided

  • Complimentary water and tea

  • Mini fridge

  • TV

  • Very friendly and helpful host

  • Can book tours and flights for you

  • Hard beds

  • They clean your room every day

  • Free bike rental

It was really convenient that our place was pretty much in the night market because we knew we wanted to eat lots of market food tonight. We had banh trang gong (crispy pizza like thing), mangosteen smoothie, beef skewers, more herbal tea (mot), cao lau (pork noodles) and ca phe sau da (Vietnamese coffee). Ainhi said we had to try the cao lau because it was a local dish only found in Hoi An. They use local well water and locally sourced veggies to make it. We found a stand right next to the river selling it. I felt like it was similar to mi quang. Noodle dish with a bit of soup base.

Did some shopping: bracelets, postcards, desk calendar, elephant bag, dresses

There was a local artist doing drawings that I really liked. I would love to have these paintings in my house in the future. I asked the guy if I could take a picture. He said yes. I tried to tip him after but he turned it down.

Hoi An Day 3 :: Even more food 😁

Wanted to catch the sunrise but was too tired. Jumped out of bed around 7:30 AM to go to Banh My Phuong. It’s famous because of Anthony Bourdain. We borrowed bikes from our Airbnb for a nice morning ride to breakfast. The nice ride turned into trying to not run anyone over and not get run over. #schoolgirlspeed

There were already many photographers out taking pictures and doing photoshoots. It’s such a photogenic little town.

We expected a really long line at Banh Mi Phuong but to our surprise, no one! It comes in waves though. We sat across the street with our bikes eating when a line started to form.

The streets looks really different during the day. Empty and quiet vs the hustle and bustle of the night market at night.

Found a sidewalk stand and got some more mi quang. A lady with a tofu fa (tofu custard) stand next to us came over and asked us to buy some dessert too. We got a bowl to share. As we were eating, a girl from Japan, Rena, came up and asked if she could look at the tofu fa. We invited her to sit with us. The portion size she got from the tofu lady was much smaller than ours. Maybe because there was one of her and two of us.

Picked up some banh tieu (hallow fried dough), a sweet hard dough thing and more ca phe sua da (Vietnamese coffee). Should have eaten the banh tieu right away but I was still full. I tried to eat them hours later but they were hard to chew by then.

Airbnb host, Xuan, helped us book our flight from Da Nang to Hanoi for tomorrow. Tons of businesses here have side businesses of taxi services and booking tours and flights. We tried to book a flight with Viet Jet Air the night before online. ❗Do not book with Viet Jet Air! Their website kept giving us an error, “booking request failed. The reservation was not created successfully. The credit card has been declined.” So we tried again. Got the same message. But my credit card sent me two transactions. We tried to call the airline to get things straightened out but kept getting a try again later voice message. We tried the next day and got the same. We emailed them and didn’t get a response until days after our intended flight. Xuan also informed us that Viet Jet Air is cheaper but often delayed. She booked us on Vietnam Airline. It was a bit pricier than Viet Jet Air was but the peace of mind was worth it. We paid for the flight in cash and was given a printed page with the flight information. I was a little concerned that they were able to accept cash for a flight but Thuy has done it before and said that’s just how things work here.

Went out to find lunch again. Got on the bikes and ended up a block away from our place for mi quang #4. Back to the house for a nap. There isn’t too much to do in Hoi An during the day. There are places near by to visit but it was so hot out we just kept it as a chill day.

Went back out to the night market for skewers with banh trang and banana pancakes.

Hunted for bracelets. Thuy and I got matching dresses. #koreancouplestatus

Tried to go back out around 10:30 PM hoping to get another mangosteen drink and the coconut dessert but most things were closing and all the vendors that were still there were packing up.

Hoi An Day 4 :: Farewell ✌️

Woke up at 7:30 AM to get some breakfast and mail postcards before heading to the airport.

The weather felt a lot nicer than any other days we were here.

Mailed the postcards and asked the nice lady at the post office if we could print our Sa Pa train tickets. Thank you!

We were thinking about eating at the sidewalk stand at the entrance of the alleyway but they only had soup noodles and I was craving bread.

We biked about half a block back to where we saw a sign for banh mi op la (bread and eggs) 🥖🍳. It came in a cute little flat pan with a slice of ham and the option of soup (bo kho) or dry. I’ve never seen it served with soup before. At home, we eat it with soy sauce. I wanted to try the soup one so Thuy and I got one of each to try. It was good with the soup! And the bread it came with was very crispy. 😍

By the time we got back to our Airbnb, the driver Xuan booked for us was outside and ready to drop us off at the airport.

Hoi An definitely gave me a better feeling of Vietnam than when I left South Vietnam years ago. This trip was planned pretty loosely and I had very low expectations for it. Before the trip, whenever anyone asked me if I was excited, I would tell them I wasn’t excited for the trash everywhere, giant rats, lizards on the walls in restaurants and crazy amount of people and traffic. That's how I remembered Vietnam.

The food, the friendly people, the buildings, the lights - all things I am glad I got to experience in Hoi An.

Hoi An Missions

  • Release floating lanterns ✔️

  • Try cao lau ✔️

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