Below are some things we learnt from spending time in Hoi An. I hope you find them useful. Scroll down a bit further to see our favourite places to eat in Hoi An!
Getting a car from Danang to Hoi An, or anywhere, really
We always use Mr Bill. He is a great driver, and is reliable and reasonable. He has taken us to Danang many times, and to Hue and back three times as well. His number is 098 254 4077 or 090 567 3444.
Catching the local yellow bus from Danang to Hoi An or Hoi An to Danang
I have created a google map showing the bus route with notes about how to catch the bus to/from the train station, the airport, Big C and Han Market. Click here to see the map.
Catching the free Big C bus from Hoi An to the Danang Big C
The Big C bus leaves Hoi An from the location shown here on this map. It’s a parking lot next to Petrolimex, opposite the Huy Hoang Garden Hotel. On the return journey, you will have to show proof of purchase on the bus. TIP – they usually keep the receipt, so if you need to buy anything that you might need to return (electrical stuff that might be faulty, etc) buy it separately so you can keep that receipt and hand the other one over. While we’re on that, I have been told that returns have to be done within three days of purchase.
Click here to see the Big C bus timetable. We find that the 8am departure from Hoi An is the most reliable, but the actual departure time can be anywhere between 8 and 8:30am. We usually get the 11am return bus as this seems to give us enough time to do what we need to do and be ready to come back. The bus doesn’t run on Mondays. Be prepared for a bit of push and shove if you go on a Saturday or Sunday.
Renting a house/finding a place to live in Hoi An
Nha Toi – Nha Toi is the first and last word in Hoi An property. Ask Alex whatever you need to know. The Nha Toi website also has information about visa renewals and an overview of the different areas in Hoi An.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Flooding in Hoi An
People often ask me about the extent of flooding in Hoi An in the wet season. I found this map, but I can’t remember where. Apologies for not crediting the source.
Restaurants in Hoi An
108 Nguyen Thai Hoc – We have walked past this restaurant many times over the past few months and finally decided to give it a go. The number of diners varies greatly and we were concerned that this was an indication of inconsistency. We need not have been concerned and now that we have been twice, I have no hesitation in recommending Family. The beef and green mango salad was fabulous, and the chicken chill and lemongrass was outstanding. Jeremy says the spring rolls were best ever, and he has also had the calamari salad and pork in clay pot. Both really good. Family is a bit more expensive than Rice Drum, but nowhere near as dear as some of the other places on the same street. We sat upstairs on the veranda – it’s nice to watch the activity in the street below.
One Moment Café & Restaurant
13 Bach Dang Street – I was wandering around near the central market when I came across this place. I could see enticing glimpses of the river from outside, so I stopped to look at the menu. Prices were very good, and I made up my mind to bring Jeremy back for lunch the next day. The food was lovely – we had spring rolls, com ga, cao lau and a beer. After we had finished eating, we sat outside and enjoyed the view with another beer. There was a nice breeze coming from the water and we could easily have stayed all afternoon. One Moment is a small restaurant, and the area with the water view has only four tables. The chairs deserve a special mention for being the most comfortable restaurant seating in Hoi An!
Hoi An Sports Bar
61a Phan Chau Trinh – Just west of the intersection with Le Loi, Hoi An Sports Bar has a great location on the edge of the old town. It’s the perfect place to escape the heat of the old town and meet other expats and travellers over a cold beer. They have a good range of food and a free pool table that adds to the relaxed atmosphere. A dart board has also just been installed. We spent many a lazy afternoon here just hanging out. The big screen TVs are great – Jeremy and Gary watched the State of Origin and many, many NRL games on a Friday afternoon. You can find all the game times and a menu with current prices on their website. I hear they even have Bundaberg Rum these days!
441 Cua Dai Street – Namaste has just moved from its previous location on Tran Cao Van to a brand new premises on Cua Dai Street opposite the Glory Hotel. The food? It was delicious and everything we wanted it to be. We had chicken tikka, masala papadams, a curry, naan and roti – all were great. For us, the point of difference between Namaste and the other Indian restaurant in Hoi An is the environment – the comfortable and spacious seating area, the white linen tablecloths, and the nice heavy cutlery. We very much enjoyed the meal we had at Namaste, and will be back soon to enjoy a meal and a cold beer on the upstairs terrace.
92 Bach Dang Street – This restaurant is a relative newcomer to the Hoi An dining scene. It has an enviable location with street frontage on both Nguyen Thai Hoc and the riverfront (Bach Dang). If you enter from the riverfront side, you will pass the kitchen and see the young chefs working with great precision in a small space. If you look at the picture, you can see that we both have noodle dishes – mine with chicken (55,000VND), Jeremy’s with seafood (69,000VND). These dishes are excellent value. We have had other dishes that were also good, but the stir fried noodles are the standout. As well as the large seating area downstairs, Rice Drum has a terrace upstairs where you can see the lights from the footbridge and the other side of the river. Another bonus of the terrace is that you can enjoy all the beautiful aromas wafting up from the kitchen below.
41 Tran Cao Van – We have eaten at 41 Cafe twice now, and both times I had the fresh spring rolls with chicken. The chicken pieces are stir fried with lemongrass and a delicious sauce before going into the rolls along with fresh crunchy lettuce, some other salady things and long spring onoins. I’d have to say these are the best fresh spring rolls I have ever had. And the most amazing part? They are also the biggest and therefore easily the best value at 49,000VND, or $2.50AUD/USD. Jeremy has tried the burger and fries for 57,000VND and the chicken rice for 59,000VND – big ticks for both. Other diners nearby had a seafood soup and were very impressed with it. The toilet is clean and separate to the owners’ house. Big tick there too.
35 Phan Chau Trinh – I read a review of this place in the Live Hoi An Magazine and since it’s about 100 metres from our house, we decided to check it out. From the street, it has an appealing, symetrical facade in mustard and dark green; I liked it as soon as I saw it. We have been lucky enough to sit outside each time we have visited – the passing traffic is good entertainment. Since this place is primarily a pho restaurant, that is what I have when we go there. The broth is outstanding; the accompanying plate of greens, pickled cucumber and chilli is generous, and the beef is lean. I think this is a fantastic lunch option a little bit away from the old town craziness. Pho is 35,000VND – almost street food prices in a cute restaurant setting.
Cafe Triet Retreat
69 Tran Hung Dao – We are so lucky to have Cafe Triet Retreat about 150 metres down the road. This is a very well priced place to eat in Hoi An, great for lunch and dinner. They have set menus for 75,000 – 80,000 VND – excellent value and half the price you would pay at other places in town. It’s like a Vietnamese degustation! Their bun bo nam bo is fabulous and a bargain at 50,000VND. I can also vouch for the cao lau, the cold Saigon beers, and the pineapple lassi. Sit outside and enjoy the passing parade of tourists, or sit inside and see the women at work in the open and very clean kitchen. They have lovely ice cream too.
332 Cua Dai Road – Red Dragon Restaurant is on the main road between Hoi An and Cua Dai beach. The people who run this place are always adding dishes and trying new things which is great when so many restaurants in Hoi An never make any changes to their menus, except to cross out the price and write in a higher one. We noticed new clay pot dishes and sticky rice deserts on our most recent visit. Having said that, Red Dragon has a particular strength in local dishes. Their cao lau and banh xeo are best in class! We are always given bottled water free of charge at the end of the meal. It’s a nice touch that builds goodwill – we always leave enough of a tip to cover it.
Huyen Tran Cong Chua (near Sun River Hotel) – U Café is a real gem. We came here to watch a show, but will be back to have a drink, enjoy the environment and take in the view of the river from the top storey of this three level eco-house. There are ponds with water lilies and goldfish on each level that add a relaxing and cooling edge to the seating areas. The inside and outside spaces flow seamlessly, a credit to the thoughtful design of the building. U Café has a small Japanese-influenced menu, but I think it has a niche in the Hoi An market as a beautifully quiet and relaxing venue for a drink with a view. U Café also does quite a bit of work for humanitarian and peace-related causes, in case you still needed more reason to support them. Read more on their website.
328 Cua Dai Street – We went to Restaurant 328 with friends who go there regularly. They had told us how good it was, and now that we have been and seen, we agree! I had chicken chilli lemongrass, for comparison purposes of course, and it was excellent. Jeremy had battered calamari that was fresh, crisp and light. We had a side of morning glory with garlic that was great too. There is a rice wine distillery out the back and the staff are quite liberal with the product! We had a good time at 328 – very good value and we will be back in the near future. How lucky are the people staying at Lotus Hotel? Red Dragon on one side, Restaurant 328 on the other!
126 Tran Cao Van Street – We have walked past Laugh Café many times, but it was the Tripadvisor reviews that eventually convinced us to eat here. The first thing to note is that the beer is cheap and served in icy, frosty glasses. The little things can really set the scene for a positive dining experience. The banh xeo was huge, crispy and delicious. The chicken and lemongrass came wrapped in a banana leaf – also huge and very tasty. I have since had cao lau and the pork that sits on top of the noodles was coated in a most delicious sauce. Laugh Café is about 50 metres from our front door and is a training restaurant for disadvantaged youth. It is very reasonably priced and the service is great. Are there any negatives? Sometimes the food takes a little while here, but the wait is worth it.