When night time falls in Hoi An
When the sun dips and nighttime falls on Hoi An, the streets of the old town magically transform into a labyrinth of colour assisted by the multicolored Japanese lanterns casting an ethereal glow. Wander the town’s streets to drink in the festive atmosphere and make the most of the lack of crowds and craziness common 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 as you cast it out on the water.
If you’ve coped with the haggling for the lantern, try negotiating with one of the Vietnamese boat vendors to take you on a 20-minute journey up and back. Yes, it is touristy – but it’s also a relaxing way to view the old town from the water. Just remember to listen to the boat captain 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. Given I’m not a backpacker these are likely to be considered more sedate. More “lively” bar options are found across the bridge – turn right into the area known as An Hoi, where the bars and nightclubs are pumping louder music and a younger crowd.
Given my preference for having a conversation at a bar, these are a few 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 place many tourists go to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.
Hoi An’s old town is atmospheric at night time – to sit and overlook the street life while enjoying a cold beverage is one of my many memorable moments in Vietnam.
I hope you enjoy yours.
Please share your favourite places in Hoi An in the comments below.