Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hoi An, Vietnam, Part 1: Lanterns Are Everywhere!

After the Halong Bay excursion, I spent a day in Hanoi decompressing before taking off the next day to the city of Hoi An, Vietnam.  It was great having a day with no agenda - I hung out with some people I met in the hostel - plus given that Sept. 2 is a huge national holiday (Independence Day), the streets were crammed with people out and about, and every store was decorated with the Vietnamese flag, and the entire atmosphere was so festive.  It was great sitting at a corner beer hall (called Bia Hoi) - these are everywhere and they serve local draft beers for like, $0.25 each, and you're usually perched on a tiny tiny plastic stool in the street. It's an experience not to be missed.

Anyways, the next day, I flew to the town of Hoi An from Hanoi (only an hour flight but a 20-hour bus trip.....no brainer which I chose).  I have to admit, Hoi An was one of the cities I was most excited to see because everyone I've spoken to who's been through Vietnam has raved about this city.  I seriously hadn't spoken to a single person who'd had anything negative to say at all.

What It's All About:
Hoi An is an incredibly picturesque, atmospheric (word courtesy of the Lonely Planet, and SO appropriate), lovely town along the coast of Central Vietnam.  It's a World Heritage Site (obv), and only has about 120K people. As the city used to be a SE Asian trading port in the 15th/16th centuries, the city buildings are influenced by various Asian architectural elements, and the result is this charming-as-shit little city. IT IS SO PRETTY.  Get ready for a total photo dump because I took a million, bazillion photos.

Hoi An is so pretty

The city is made up of these old-school gorgeous colonial buildings, tiny winding streets, and huge bougainvillea plants everywhere -  not to mention there are lanterns everywhere that light up at night, and fun fact, the city has the highest concentration of tailors per capita. With over 200 tailors, you can walk into any of the shops, get your measurements, and get custom things made to high heaven - anything you want: dresses, shoes, swimsuits, etc.  It's all fairly touristy - but I don't even care because it is truly, truly such a delightful town.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • I got in late afternoon/early evening and decided to wander around town.
  • Confession, one of the first things I did (besides having an ice cream) was to go to one of the 10 million tailor shops to get some clothes made. 
These tailor shops are everywhere. Literally dozens on every block.
  • And then I walked through the city and took a million photos. 

Walking down some of the old streets
Bougainvilleas everywhere!

And lanterns! Lanterns everywhere!

And bikes! Bikes everywhere! 

This is an old school Japanese bridge from way back in the day.  I read about it, but again, do not recall a single fact except that it's very old and pretty. You're welcome for that very informative fact.
The view of Hoi An's riverfront

By the river, there are these women that sell floating candles - you can buy one, make a wish, and then set your wish afloat into the water

Having a mystery street food meal by the water - it involved sitting on one of those tiny plastic stools and it turned out to be one of those rice paper-wrapped pork skewers and leafy green things. The lady had to show me how to make one. It was delicious and the cutest.

Moment of the Day:
Friends who'd been to Hoi An had all told me that going to a tailor and getting clothes made was the funnest, greatest thing ever  - also it's SO cheap. I found a tailor that had great tripadvisor reviews and went to town. You can basically show these women a photo of anything (movie stars, fashion week, brand websites, etc.) or they have tons of booklets you can look through for inspiration - and they can make it.  And you can choose any fabric, color, material, or customization you want. It's crazy.

I went in just for fun, but walked out having gotten myself a suit (for that period of my life where I become serious again) and a bunch of dresses made. I will say for one of the dresses, I maybe chose a Taylor outfit as the photo that I showed the woman to make.  Only 10% because it's Tay, and 90% because it's a great outfit.  Also, there is no judgment on my blog. 

Anyways, the entire experience was awesome - not only are you customizing every single detail of your clothes, but there's a one-day turnaround and it includes several fittings. I went in the next morning and everything was done - the tailor made tweaks and edits that I suggested, and had me stop by a couple more times while I was in Hoi An to try things on and edit further. My tailor even showed up to my hotel last night with a couple questions for me on one of the items - it's the greatest thing ever.  My next move is going to be getting rid of my entire wardrobe and creating it all from scratch here in Hoi An.


  1. Looking forward to seeing how the dresses came out!

    1. Does this mean I have to find a real job again in order to wear the work ones? 😩