Chào mừng đến Hội An | Welcome to Hội An
Hội An – commonly known as Faifo in some Western countries – is one of the most prosperous town in the Vietnam Central. After being certified as a UNESCO heritage site in 1999, Hội An has achieved a momentum as the top tourist destination in Vietnam welcoming thousands of tourists every day.
The Old Town is the main attraction with well preserved ancient architectures built and influenced by three main cultures: Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese. Thanks to the history of being the largest trading port in the 1st century, Hội An welcomed the culture diversity from Indian to Dutch, Chinese to Japanese. But the latter two dominate Hội An architecture and culture. Visitors might notice Chinese alphabets carved on cobblestone pillars, or find the similarity between Japanese Udon and Hội An’s specialty “Cao Lầu” (literally translated as “High Floor.”)
Nowadays, Hội An governors aim to preserve the ancient town with ticket fee required to pay upon any visits to ancient houses which exist for centuries. Inhabitants now find their home located outside of the ancient town, while the other buildings are remained for business leasing. Shop, restaurant, bar and hotel take up most of the ancient houses. Even though business matters overtook the town rapidly, policies have been taken to preserve its tranquility and soulfulness. These policies include: motorbike restricting hours, no AC system installation in houses, guidelines for new construction. Thus, Hội An still possesses its old but golden charm.
A Brief Guide
What & Where to eat:
- Bánh mì Phượng (Phượng’s Bread): Hoàng Diệu Street
- Cao Lầu (noodles with pork)
- Bánh Kẹp (grilled rice paper)
- Thịt Xiên Nướng (skewers): Hai Bà Trưng Street
- Bánh Hoa Hồng (white rose cake): 533 Hai Bà Trưng Street
- Cơm Gà Bà Nga (Bà Nga’s chicken rice): 8 Phan Chu Trinh Street
Where to drink/chill:
- Cocobox: 94 Lê Lợi Street
- Soulkitchen’s: An Bang Beach, Hai Bà Trưng, Cẩm An
- Bar Xưa&Nay: 51 Lê Lợi Street
- Hội An’s Roastery: 135 Trần Phú Street
What to do:
- Water Lanterns wishing: by Thu Bồn River
- Bài Chồi (traditional music): next to the bridge
- Shopping: at the walking streets
Full Story on my Experience in Hội An
Morning: “Bánh Mì Phượng,” small delights and calm scenery
Let’s start the Faifo adventure with the most popular “Banh mi” in town – “Bánh Mì Phượng” – which has been so popular that it made to CNN Travel and is praised by tourists. One loaf costs only 10,000 VND for locals and 25,000 for foreigners. Have a local friend to tag along to get a good price, but one dollar for a good loaf of bread is seemingly impossible to find in the States.
Now head to old market and have some smoothies or juice, my favorite is centella juice, which is so exotic for foreigner but highly recommended thanks to its healthiness.
These are not eraser, they are sweet cake with the texture like jello. “Bánh chín tầng mây” (“Cloud nine cake”) is really cheap with only 2,000 VND/piece. These are sold by the sweets vendor along the street of the ancient town.
Another specialty I had a chance to try is this “Sắn Đập” made by smashed sweet potato topped with smashed peanuts.
Refresh your taste with these small but delightful Vietnamese dessert.
Afternoon: Grilled dish, chilling at Chu Chu
The afternoon is blessed with so many food choices, especially grills. When it come to grills, don’t expect too many BBQ dish like Western cuisine. Let’s discover Vietnamese exquisite way of grilling.
Commonly known as “Bánh tráng nướng” (grilled paper cake), this dish in Faifo is far more different thanks to the stuffing inside. The vendor they grill these and put either egg, sausage or pork. The crispiness differentiates the taste from what I tasted in Saigon.
Yes, these skewers are similar to BBQ, but the way to eat them is more interesting than BBQ. First, take on some rice paper and put the rice cake on. Secondly, put the veggies and meat inside then roll it. Dip the roll into the sauce and enjoy. Find this one on Hai Ba Trung street. You’ll love it.
This savory cake is a variant of dimsum but the shape is likely a white rose, source of the name. The stuffing is a small ball of pork. The highlight of this dish is fried onion and fish sauce. Life cannot be any better.
Chu Chu cafe is a small cafe located inside the walking street of Hội An. The place is well decorated with little interiors. I didn’t try any special drink but sparkling water. What I enjoyed most here was the view to the walking street that you could stay there for a while and observe visitors passing by.
Evening: More food and here comes the lanterns
Even though “Cơm Gà Bà Buội” (Bà Buội Chicken Rice) is the most popular in Faifo, I preferred this dish in another restaurant which is famed for its price. But the taste was really good as well, the meat was surprisingly fresh and the seasoning was a fusion of sweet from sweet chilli sauce and fat from the chicken water.
What else to eat?
The most beautiful scenes in Hội An is at night when all the shops opened and the lanterns are lighted with some traditional musical performance.
Visit some coffee shops and continue with my strolling.
Even though it was my second time here, I could not help feeling so joyful with all the food Hội An offers. The ambiance was a big plus that boosted my appetite.