While we were in South Vietnam, an American girl asked what my favorite city in Asia has been so far. I honestly couldn’t answer her…I hadn’t really felt a strong connection to a singled out city. Had she asked me this question a few days later, I could easily have responded Hoi An. Especially during the lantern festival (which we happened to be there for).
This old trading town is located along the Bon River in the South Central part of Vietnam. It is influenced by Chinese, Japanese and Dutch architecure; however, it looks more European to me. It has about 120K people. And, it’s absolutely lovely. I could have stayed here much longer. The weather in the evening is perfect for strolls along the river. We happened to be there during the Lantern Festival, which happens when there is a full moon. The entire city is lit by lanterns only. Dinner along the riverside (with floating colorful lanterns) make for an especially magical night. We also rode along the river in a canoe and could place our lantern in the water.
The town was booming with local musical and dance performances. Crowds gathered everywhere to enjoy this one special evening. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our time there.
Prior to the Lantern Festival, we visited My Son (prounounced Me son), which are a set of ruins built by Hindus. We also spent an entire day at the local beach there. We rented motorbikes and made our way over to this pristine beach. It was breathtaking.
I loved everything about Hoi An. The tiny cafes, the street donuts, the cobblestone pathways and the Japanese bridge that divides the old town from the new town. Another plus? The hospitality. And, being vegetarian has not proved to be a problem in the slightest. I’ve enjoyed a healthy dose of Vietnamese and Western foods.
Now, I am writing you from Hanoi. Not to be confused with Hoi An.
Hanoi is obviously huge in comparison to Hoi An. But, not quite as cool as Ho Chi Minh City. We found a great cafe to have dinner at this evening. From there, we took a bike taxi to the lake (though, they severely tried to rip us off). We made it just in time to purchase tickets for the Water Puppet Show. If you ever find yourself in Hanoi, I highly recommend that you see this hour-long show.
Tomorrow, we are doing an overnight cruise along Halong Bay. I am excited beyond belief, as I have waited many years to see Halong Bay and also one of the 7 wonders of the world. I will write more about this in my next post.
By the way, Happy March!
– Rali xo.