Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hoi An

I'm moving further south to Hoi An, renown as a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it should be worth a visit. Unfortunately there's no railway station, the nearest is Da Nang, from where you have to take a bus or taxi. Some people at my hotel are taking a bus ($6US) that calls at the hotel, so that seemed the sensible option.

Its not that far but its a mountainous landscape; it should have taken 3.5 hours except the bus spent an hour picking up other Hue passengers & stopped for a half hour rest break at an insanely overpriced resort hotel.

It passes through a glorious landscape of mountains, forests & rivers; passed fishing villages & paddy fields as well as skirting the South China Sea which had massive breakers. For much of the way the train follows the same route before dropping down to hug the coast while the bus passes though a 5 mile long tunnel through the mountains before dropping down to DaNang.

DaNang seemed a very unprepossing big city with few charms worth stopping for although other travellers told me they enjoyed their time there.

I pre-booked a Hoi An hotel on the web that claimed to be in the middle of town - but it was about time my good or lucky judgement failed. Everybody I met had been telling me how I was paying over-the-odds for accommodation so this one was the Vinh Huy hotel & cost $13US a night.

Its real backpackers stuff, I've stayed in worse places in the past but its further out of town than claimed, doesnt have the bar or pool claimed, they overcharged me (but only $4) & its Lonely Planet recommended! Its a miserable dump & was a big mistake. The room was a pokey box-room & everything was grubby although as clean as they could make it. The showerhead fell off as soon as I touched it & the bathroom accoutrements were a used comb & a plastic babies mug for guest use.

I moved to a smarter looking place much closer to town but checked out the rooms before booking & moved to the Thanh Binhi 1 hotel on Le Loi St. Its a great location for town, the room is twice as big, its smart & clean with some well choosen furniture & pleasant window views - all for $2 more! A friend moved in later & only paid $12 - robbed again!

Hoi An is a great place, I love its traditional character & the back streets give a real sense of old world Vietnam because no modern building is allowed in the old town. Its become pretty touristy & there are plenty of Australians & Europeans so little houses have been converted into coffee shops, bars & restaurants.

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