Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
Since Hoi An was largely untouched by the American war, it retains a lot of history and charm that some of the other areas of Vietnam have lost. Hoi An was one of southeast Asia's major ports from the 17th-19th centuries, and as a result, it has its very own unique culture and atmosphere, with influences from all over the world. Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the whole area is completely closed off to cars at all times, so it's easy to walk around and explore. You can also hire a bike (around $1-2 per day) to check out the town.
While many Vietnamese buildings in other parts of the country were destroyed at some point during a war, Hoi An has been relatively untouched, hence the UNESCO status. Many of the buildings date as far back as the 16th or 17th century. There is also a lot of French colonial architecture still prominent around old town.
My Son Temples in Hoi An
My Son is sometimes referred to as the "Angkor Wat of Vietnam", although this is a bit misleading. While Angkor Wat still stands in great condition, My Son has become victim to nature, and the many wars it has seen over the years. During the American war, B52 bombers tragically bombed My Son, with craters and broken buildings scattering the area.
A day trip to My Son can be booked from your guesthouse or a local agent, usually for around US$10 per person. While the temples aren't in great condition anymore, it's still well worth the trip, to see the holy city of the Cham people. There are Cham ruins around Vietnam in much better condition, but My Son has more historical significance.
Tailors of Hoi An
Warning, it's incredibly addictive!
Most people who come to Hoi An are wanting to have something tailored. That perfect suit, made just for them with every little feature picked out for themselves. There are hundreds of tailors in Hoi An, but after visiting just a few, you can suss out what you should be paying for whatever it is that you're after.
Since the tailor made clothing items are so unbelievably cheap, it makes it very addictive. But really, in long the run, it could be a good investment. Be wary of the questionably cheap tailors, however. You can get very good quality custom made suits for US$70-80. Some of them may tell you $20-30, but it really won't be anywhere near as good as they say. Make sure you compromise on price, to make sure you get the best quality. You get to pick out the material, and even the inner lining color. You can choose how many buttons your jacket has, how many pockets you want, and any other little feature.
There aren't just suits, though. Any item of clothing you could think of can be crafted here.
As far as quality goes, pay a little extra for the good quality material. Most of the stores send off their designs to sweat-shop style factories, where your clothes will get made over night. Therefore, no matter which tailor you go to, generally they're around the same quality. Make sure you thoroughly check your items when you pick them up. Check the stitching very carefully, and make sure it's the material you picked out. When you're cautious like this, you can get some amazing quality items for ridiculously cheap prices!
Sunset Dinner Cruise
Hoi An is a coastal town, but it also has a river running right through the middle of it. This is the setting for much of the night-life, with restaurants, bars and cafes lining the water-front. The Cinnamon Cruises sunset cruise is a great way to relax, and soak up Hoi An in style. The cost is US$30 per person, which isn't cheap for Vietnam (but you've gotta lash out every now and then, right?).
The price includes a complimentary cocktail upon boarding, along with a few snacks and then a set menu dinner. It's recommended to try the seafood, as it's nice and fresh, as Hoi An is a coastal town. The cruise lasts approximately 2 hours.
Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai beach is part of what is now known as China beach. This was made famous during the war, as it's part of the 30km stretch of beach where American soldiers spent their R&R while not in battle. This section was later named Cua Dai, and it was claimed as Hoi An's own beach.
The sand is white, the water is clear and blue, and it's not too over-crowded like some other beaches in Vietnam. Cua Dai stretches for 3km, but in reality continues a lot further than that. It's usually fairly easy to find your own little stretch of sand to relax on.
There are also plenty of vendors along the beach, selling drinks, snacks and fresh seafood.
Cua Dai is located about 4km from the center of Hoi An, and is easily accessed by riding a bike (cost is US$1-2 per day,) or walking. You could also take a taxi or scooter if you're not up to the walk or ride. The road is fairly flat and well-maintained, though.