When night time falls
When the sun dips and nighttime descends on Hoi An, the streets of the old town magically transform into a labyrinth of colour. The strands of multicolored Japanese lanterns casting an ethereal glow add to the special atmosphere. Wander the town’s streets and absorb the festive ambiance. Make the most of the lack of crowds and craziness typically found in the larger cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Once you’ve strolled through the markets and purchased a Japanese lantern (or three like me) head to the banks of the Thu Bon river to haggle with one of the many vendors keen to sell you a floating lantern on which you make a wish before casting it out on the water.
If you’ve coped with haggling for the lantern, try negotiating with one of the Vietnamese boat vendors to take you on a 20-minute journey up and back the river. Yes, it is a touristy experience, but it’s also a relaxing way to view the pretty old town from the water. Just remember to listen out when the boat captain says to ‘duck’ under some of the lower bridges.
Hoi An is not a huge party town as most places close down by midnight, but there are a number of bars I’d recommend. I’m not a backpacker, so these bars are more ‘sedate.’
To find the ‘livelier’ bar options head across the bridge, and turn right into the area known as An Hoi, where the bars and nightclubs are pumping louder music.
Given my preference for having a conversation at a bar where you’re not shouting, these are a five in Hoi An old town I’d recommend:
Dive Bar at 88 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street is the headquarters for Cham Island Diving, so you will know it if you plan to do any snorkeling or diving. Dive Bar has live music (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights) and great atmosphere. Popular with travellers and ex-pats. Very relaxed atmosphere.
Q Bar 94 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street is close to the Dive Bar and is more upmarket. Taking its name from the famous Saigon Bar (now closed) below Saigon’s Opera House this bar has an upmarket design and an extensive cocktail list. As long as you’re prepared to pay for the ambiance and plush furnishings which brings with it a more expensive drinks selection this is the place to hang out with the stylish crowd.
White Marble Wine bar 98 Le Lo Street is more sophisticated. In the town centre the building is on a corner in a refurbished heritage building. If you don’t feel like moving after a few drinks stay for dinner and enjoy the menu offering authentic Vietnamese, French and Italian fusion style food.
Mango Rooms 111 Nguyen Thai Hoc Streets overlooks the river makes a great position to watch Hoi An street life below. As for the namesake, many of the Mango Room’s signature cocktails use fresh mangoes. But don’t just think all their cocktails are of the fruity variety, they also have a wide range of the popular beers including LaRue, Saigon, and Tiger. They also offer a happy hour from 5 pm – to 7 pm worth checking out a selection of drinks at half price. And if your tummy starts grumbling, they do a very nice menu of tasty treats including delicious spring rolls and a sensational Mango coconut curry.
Not to be confused with Mango Rooms this eatery is at 49 Nguyen Phuc Chu Street overlooking the Thu Bon River and Hoi An night market. This is the perfect place to go to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
To sit and enjoy a cold beverage in Hoi An’s old town at night time, while watching the street life is one of my many memorable moments in Vietnam.
Please share your favourite places to enjoy a drink in Hoi An in the comments below.