This place is really special. Colorful lanterns line the streets and we lucked out by visiting during their monthly Full Moon Festival, which will definitely be on our shortlist of travel favorites.
Hoi an Lantern Festival
This was the highlight of our stay in Hoi An. Once a month, the city gets even more beautiful for its special Lantern Festival, coinciding with the full moon. After sunset, we took a canoe ride down the river and placed our own lanterns on the water, giving our blessings and wishes to the river. The scene was breathtaking, and while we tried to take pictures of it, none did it justice. It was dark. The moon was full. The streets on either side of the river were lined with lanterns that reflected their beautiful colors on the water. The river was dotted with little candles, floating on paper trays. We were on the water, silently marveling at the dark and colorful scene in front of us, and nearly purchased a second canoe ride when it was over.
We fell in love with the colorful lanterns displayed all over the city. We took almost a half day to do some gift shopping. We figured that we were heading back to the US in a couple weeks, and it wouldn’t be too bad at this stage to cart around some gifts. We found one stall with beautiful lanterns at a great price, about $4-5 each. We spent an hour picking out 15 lanterns and stuffing them into our newly purchased fake Nike duffel bags. Later that night, Annie read a review online that someone had purchased 20 lanterns, and wished that they’d bought more. We were sold. We went back to the same stall the next day and bought 16 more. A grand total of 31 lanterns came home with us.
In Hoi An, the rules for vendors are quite strict because they want to maintain the feel of the streets. Vendors are not allowed to display their goods outside of their store fronts, but some of them do it anyway to lure tourists into their shops. Every once in a while, police officers stroll down the street and the vendors scramble to bring anything that they’ve hung outdoors back into their shop. At one shop, 3 girls began scrambling and running indoors at the sight of the police officers approaching. An American girl inside freaked out because she was scared that she was being locked inside.
Small Town Vibe
Hoi An has a very different pace compared to Saigon. It feels safer and friendlier here. It’s a perfect walking / biking city and is one of the most beautiful towns we’ve seen. There is a lovely river meandering through city and at night, the tree-lined streets are lit with spectacular colored lanterns. Because of its beauty, it’s no surprise that tour buses bring flocks of people here from Nha Trang.
Bike Ride to An Bang Beach
We rode rickety bicycles from our little bed and breakfast in town to An Bang beach. The white sands and murky green water were beautiful, but I think we’re done with beaches. A man overcharged us for parking our bike (okay, so it was only $2, not much, but it doesn’t feel good getting scammed because then you start to put your guard up). The scammer wasn’t even there when we returned to pick up our bikes. While we were on the beach, three local fishermen rushed into the water with nets to catch shrimp. They came back with a surprisingly large catch. The water was colder than we expected so we read our books on beach chairs.