Day 5 – Hue to Hoi An
After an exhausting day in Hue, our sleep was great despite the softer bed to our liking. However, we woke up quite early and went out to the balcony to take some pictures. The sun was rising from behind the balcony where we could still see from the side. We spent a few minutes to witness the awakening of Hue from our hotel balcony. It was very nice to see the city gradually lit up to begin another brand new day.
This morning was our departure from Hue directly to Hoi An by bus at 8 am so our breakfast had to be very early around 7 am. Since we had plenty of time to pack and get ready the previous night, there wasn’t much to do this morning. Once we were ready, we went to the restaurant for breakfast.
Besides ordering our favourite scrambled eggs with toast, we also ordered pho. The pho in Hue tasted different from those in Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City but we still enjoyed this Vietnamese dish. We had a nice cup of Vietnamese coffee as well. After our sumptuous breakfast and the friendly service we enjoyed from the restaurant staff, we went back to our room to brush up and we rested a little while to make ourselves comfortable before the bus ride to Hoi An.
Near to 8 am, we brought our bags and went to the lobby to check out. Having settled our outstanding bill, the hotel staff wished us a safe trip and an enjoyable time in Hoi An. A hotel staff helped us carry one of our bags while I carried the other bag to walk to the office of the travel agent just off the main road. We exited Serene Palace Hotel, turned left and walked all the way to the end of the small lane. We then crossed the road and the agent’s office was just a short distance ahead. After arriving at the office, we thanked the hotel staff and tipped him for his help before he left.
There were some other tourists who were already waiting at the office. More tourists arrived by taxis at the office. Not long after, two MPV taxis came and we were told to squeeze into the taxis with our bags. We were packed like sardines in the taxi. The taxis drove for about ten minutes and we reached another office where a big blue bus was already waiting with passengers boarding the bus. Initially, we thought the bus would pick us up from the agent’s office near Serene Palace Hotel. Now then we realized we would be boarding the bus somewhere else.
After leaving our bags with the bus assistance who placed all the bags arranged according to locations into the bus storage compartment, we boarded the bus. This was a sleeper bus where we were required to remove our shoes at the stairs of the bus to be put into a plastic bag. After that we were allowed to go up the bus to find a seat which also served as a bed. There was no seat number so it was free sitting on a first come first serve basis. Eventually, the bus was full and we started to move off.
Due to language barrier, the bus assistance with limited English proficiency may sound rude shouting at passengers at times giving instructions with regards to alighting destination and bus boarding procedures. Anyway, the bus was quite clean and comfortable. The only trouble was loud Vietnamese music was played throughout the journey. We simply listened to our own music from our own listening devices to drown out the unbearable Vietnamese music which we could not understand a thing.
So we leaned back and made ourselves comfortable and rested as much as we could during the journey. After about two hours, the bus came to a stop along the road next to a shop. We were taking a break here for about 30 minutes. Everyone alighted from the bus but it took quite some time as everyone needed to put on shoes again at the stairs of the bus before getting down.
This rest area looked like it was in the middle of no where but the restaurant was doing roaring business with many ordering food and drinks. We were not very hungry after our nice breakfast so we just ordered Vietnamese spring rolls. We were surprised when the spring rolls arrived as the size was huge and we had four pieces costing 50,000 VND. These spring rolls were quite oily and didn’t taste as nice as those we ever had in Vietnam. These spring rolls were stuffed with pieces of meat and probably prawns and other vegetables.
After 30 minutes when everyone was back in the bus, we moved on again. After another 30 minutes, the bus stopped by the road and the bus assistance was shouting loudly and rudely Lang Co Beach trying to get the attention of those passengers who were supposed to alight here. So a few passengers left the bus and collected their bags from the bus storage and the bus moved on again.
The bus was driving very slowly this time where we were very near Danang City. The driver might be trying to avoid getting fined for speeding being near major city with the presence of police on the road. After 45 minutes, we arrived at the tour office in Danang where many more passengers left the bus. The bus waited at the tour office for a few minutes and then finally we were on our way to Hoi An.
On the way, we passed by the beautiful Pullman Danang Beach Resort where we had a wonderful time during the second day of our tour. Soon, we were near Hoi An and the bus eventually stopped outside of the Old Town in Hoi An.
Everyone alighted and we were approached by two motorcyclists claiming to be from Easy Riders. They asked which hotel we were heading and quoted 100,000 VND to bring each of us to our hotel. We declined and eventually they agreed to send us to Vinh Hung Emerald Resort for 60,000 VND each. The rest of the tourists were either waiting for someone to pick them up or looking for taxis to bring them to their accommodations.
So we sat pinion on our bike with our bags in front of the rider and thus we made our way to our resort. We were not wearing any helmets which was a little dangerous. Our bike crisscrossed small streets and braked abruptly when cyclists were in our way. In about five minutes we were outside Vinh Hung Emerald Resort. The last time we sat on a motorbike was years ago when my father-in-law sent us to places on his bike. So it was quite fun and quite an experience as well. After paying the riders 120,000 VND, they left and the hotel staff came to collect our bags while we made our way up the stairs to the hotel lobby.
When we arrived, a hotel staff opened the sliding door to let us in as the lobby was air-conditioned and the heat outdoor was not very pleasant. Our check in was smooth and a staff on training showed us to our room.
The room was nice and the king bed looked clean and quite comfortable. There was a wall mounted TV in the room. The bathroom was clean and in good condition and came with a shower stall and complete with toiletries as well.
The balcony has a nice pool view among trees which was very pleasant to just sit around to relax. But it was quite hot so it was better to remain indoor with air-conditioning working very well. Besides, we were concerned about mosquitoes outdoor so it was not a very good idea to stay outside to be bitten by these unwanted guests. Our bags came shortly after and with no issues to raise, the staff left us to enjoy our room. We checked out the TV channels available and also set up our wifi password and soon we were hooked up with the outside world.
Soon we left and went to the restaurant that was empty. There was a special menu however at only 120,000 VND which included a drink. So we ordered our meals and settled down to enjoy this resort.
The restaurant staff were very friendly and helpful as well. Our grilled pork and fish and chips came and they were presentable and looked delicious. So we tucked in to our meals and they were in fact delicious.
We were so happy we could arrive Hoi An in good time to enjoy the facilities here. Our bus ride costing only US$5 per person was a good price for the nearly 4 hours ride. Taking a bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur for about the same travel time would cost at least five times more. While having lunch, we watched the activities at the swimming pool not far from the restaurant. There were kids with their parents enjoying themselves in the pool during this hot summer day. We were looking forward to joining them after our lunch.
With lunch over, we were back to our room to rest for a short while and to catch up with our children to inform them we had arrived Hoi An safely. The wifi worked perfectly in our room. We also watched TV during this short rest. The room may not be luxurious but it was just fine and for the price of under US$54 per night including breakfast, we were not complaining.
Having had sufficient rest, we changed and went to the swimming pool for our swim and time of relaxation. The pool was warm under the sun and was perfect for swimming. The pool was not very big but it was good enough just to spend some time relaxing on a hot and lazy summer day in Hoi An. One end was meant for kids and we spent most of our time at the other end of the pool which was quieter looking out to the river a short distance away.
What a joy it was to float around on the sparkling blue water under the illumination from the afternoon sun. With the river further down providing a very serene and scenic setting with the occasional boat cruising on the river punctuating the surrounding with the monotonous noise of its motor, it was indeed a great way to spend the afternoon at this resort. It would be too hot to head to town anyway so we were in the right place at the right time.
The resort had a free street food buffet by the river at 4.15 pm everyday. By around 4 pm, they were almost ready with all the preparations. So we adjourned from the swimming pool to the river side area to wait for the buffet to begin.
There were tables and seats arranged nicely by the river. The food sections were manned by the resort staff helping guests who wished to sample some of the items available. We took some pieces here and there and brought them to a table by the river.
The setting was just perfect as we sat by the river to try out these Hoi An street foods and relaxed by the river to enjoy the scenery of the resort and the surrounding well kept garden. Resort guests with their children were also having a good time at the garden area helping themselves with these street foods. The whole place was so peaceful and relaxing and we really had a good time enjoying ourselves during this event.
It was certainly ingenious of the Vinh Hung Emerald Resort to provide this value-added service for the resort room package. All this little things that the resort provided were surely appreciated. By the way, there would be a complimentary river cruise tomorrow morning which we really would look forward to as well.
Soon it was time to leave as we had earlier booked a massage session at the in-house spa before dinner. So we hurried back to our room and had a quick shower. By the time we were done, the spa operator was calling our room to ask if we were going for our treatments. We quickly went over to the spa which was just next to the lobby.
We were given drinks and towels and then ushered into a couple’s room for our treatment. The one hour passed quickly and we had our sore muscles relieved and our bodies put back to good shape. The summer heat was proving too much for us in Central Vietnam. The cost for the massage was 280,000 VND each after 40% discount which was pretty good. By the way, we were required to pay the operator immediately after the treatment. We could not charge the bill to our room as the operator was not part of Vinh Hung Emerald Resort.
Back in the room, we washed up again and changed to prepare to head to the Hoi An Old Town to explore. When we left, the sky was already in deeper blue colour before turning dark. The lanterns in front of the hotel lobby was very nice and lovely. We went down the stairs after exiting the lobby and following the road straight ahead, we came to a bridge on a main road. From here we could see the Hoi An Old Town further in front after the bridge with shops and roads nicely lighting up.
After crossing the bridge and walking a short distance ahead, the Old Town was on our right. An information booth was there where we purchased our entrance fee of 120,000 VND each that included admission to five attractions within the Old Town but they were closed by that time. The sky was dark blue now and the walking streets were lit with lantern lights which was really lovely. It was not very busy yet as we walked into the Old Town.
Souvenir shops were on both sides of the streets and the temperature by now had become lower which was more pleasant to walk around. There were also arts and crafts shops and shops selling clothes as well. So we approached one of the shops selling clothes. We looked at some shirts and after bargaining, we eventually bought four Polo T-shirts at 100,000 VND each. After that, we continued walking along this inner walking streets and enjoyed the nice shops and romantic lighting in the Old Town.
The lanterns hung across the streets at many stretches on the street was very lovely to behold. They came in all shapes, sizes and colours. Initially having seen the lanterns lit across the streets with the dark blue sky as the background, it was very nice and now with the sky turned completely dark, these lanterns became even more outstanding and pretty. Hoi An was no doubt famous for its lanterns in the Old Town well deserving of its Unesco World Heritage Site status.
As we walked along, we soon reached a section of the streets that was rather crowded with visitors. A lot of people were crowding there taking pictures. When we approached nearer, we realized this was the famous Japanese bridge in Hoi An. No wonder so many people were there taking turns to have their pictures taken. So we waited for a while in order to take pictures of this bridge as well. The interior of this bridge looked like a room. It looked well kept. Having spent a while inside this bridge looking out and enjoying the views around, we walked through the bridge and emerged on another side of the walking street.
More shops brightly lit were on both sides of the street. We went into a shop selling leather products. The prices of the products were quite expensive. Some of the salesgirls were rather rude as well. We left without buying anything. We also noticed a funny sign on a shop selling leather products which was quite humorous. Literal translation became literally lost in translation.
We walked all the way to the end of the streets with shops selling more or less the same stuff on both sides of the street. We then turned right to walk on another street next to the river.
The walk had been very pleasant and lovely so far. The weather was cooler by night fall so we were less tired even though we had already walked quite a distance from Vinh Hung Emerald Resort. We would still have to cover the same distance back to our resort but we didn’t think it would be a problem. The shops along the river were mainly cafes and restaurants where dining experience would be much enhanced with the river view.
There were also restaurants on the boats as well. The whole place was lively and lovely under the lights from the multi-colour lanterns. The whole atmosphere was very romantic and a walk through these streets under the warm lantern lighting was very pleasant and enjoyable.
There were more shops and restaurants across the river beautifully lit up as well. Besides the nice and romantic lighting, usually English music from the oldies and sentimental songs were played from the broadcast system on the streets too. There we have this Venice of the East but Chinese style with English music. What a unique combination! But they were however lovely and romantic. Alfresco dining by the river seemed to be a favourite pastime here.
So we reached an intersection that looked like a town square where crowds gathered to listened to story and performance. We could not really make out what was going on as they communicated in their local language. Those people there were very attentive and participative and seemed to be enjoying themselves clapping at times.
As we walked on, we reached the middle where a big bridge spanned across the river with crowds of people on the bridge. Some people were purchasing lighted paper lanterns to be released on to the river. A lot of people watched this event as those who bought the lights slowly lowered the lights with a rod on to the river. It was interesting to observe this activity and soon the river was glittering with little lights.
On the river, there were big lighted lotus flowers decorating the river glowing in its pretty pink colour light. The whole river was very beautiful in the night flanked by amazing lantern lights on both sides from the shops and restaurants on the river banks with crowds of people thronging this Old Town. On the bridge, it was very crowded with people leaving and going into the walking streets of the Old Town.
Both sides of the bridge near the end were decorated with a lighted fish panel. They certainly looked very pretty on the entranced of the bridge.
At the end of the bridge, street vendors were selling food and snacks. The whole place was enjoyed by both locals and foreign visitors alike. Another visitor’s booth was near the entrance of the bridge making announcement in English as well as Mandarin requesting visitors to purchase entrance tickets into the Old Town. No one was there to check whether visitors purchased the tickets anyway.
Having crossed the river, we were now on the other side of the streets with more cafes and restaurants and some shops as well. We didn’t really walked much on the streets along the river this time. Instead, we walked further ahead into the night market area.
Before the night markets, there were quite a few shops selling beautifully made lanterns. They came in all sizes and shapes and colours as well. It was really a sight to behold. We had never seen so many lanterns in our life and we were thrilled and overjoyed coming to visit Hoi An Old Town at night.
So we walked on and took a look at stalls selling all kinds of stuff. On the sides of the roads were restaurants, cafes and other shops as well. When we had finally come to the end of the night market, we bought a big bottle of water at 15,000 VND from a convenience store. We then turned right and walked back to Ving Hung Emerald Resort about 10 minutes walk away. We soon reached the resort and went straight to the restaurant for our dinner.
We were quite tired and hungry by now. We ordered their local dishes with rice and also ordered cold ginger tea as well. The food was good and delicious but we liked the ginger tea best. So we ordered another round of ginger tea and the restaurant staff was very happy to serve us and was pleased we enjoyed our dinner and liked the ginger tea as well.
With dinner settled, we had a quick look at the resort ground which was lit up romantically. But it was very quiet at the resort. Most guests should now be enjoying themselves at the Old Town and dining there soaking up that fabulous atmosphere by the river. That was why the resort restaurant was so quiet where we were the only diners. Perhaps the restaurant staff were pleased we preferred to eat here than out at the Old Town and they were very happy to serve us.
So it was time to return to our room to rest. Our room was comfortable and the air-conditioning was good. Wifi worked well and so it was time to send nice pictures of the Old Town to our children back home via whatsapp. It was such a joy to share these pictures with them. How we wish our children were with us to enjoy this amazing and beautiful town in Hoi An. This Unesco Heritage Site was much better than the one in Malacca where we used to roam Jonker Street whenever we visit Malacca.
Finally, we settled down to watching TV and relaxing ourselves stretching out on our comfortable bed. We were very happy to be here and this was our first visit to Hoi An and we would very likely return another time in the near future. Eventually, we fell asleep having had a long day travelling here, spending time outdoor at the resort and also having a joyous exploration of the walking streets in Hoi An Old Town. We were sure we would awake to another day of fantastic time in Hoi An
Continue to Day 6 …