We used Booking.Com for the Hoi An hotel and Agoda for the Hue Hotel. We looked for a reasonably priced hotel close to the city center. We read reviews to identify hotels with great prices and serious flaws. Both hotels included breakfast (individually prepared eggs, a Vietnamese noodle dish, fruits, bread, and cheese), WiFi, and cable television. The down side of eat breakfast at the hotel is that we lost 7 opportunities to indulge in a morning pho or banh mi. Both hotels had complimentary fruit plates and complementary water.
|Elephants in Bangkok and Romantic Swans in Hoi An|
Hard to shower & ruin the artistry
In Hoi An we stayed at the Hai Au Hotel (USD 37). It arranged our airport pick up (USD 16) and our later trip to DaNang's railroad station. The front desk staff was exuberant. They learned our names immediately, oriented us to the city, arranged tours, and answered questions. The readily gave advice on various plans. For example, we booked a 5:00 a.m. tour for My Son. The staff told us that the heat could become oppressive if we tried a later start. A staff member called us at 4:30 a.m., waited with us until the bus came, and told us that we would have food on the bus and also be back in time for the hotel breakfast. The hotel was fine, but it is the staff that would bring us back there.. (Nothing to do with the hotel but too memorable to ignore was our My Son tour guide - he gave a largely scatological presentation, full of innuendos, on the lingam.)
Food and Restaurants
Everywhere pho is sold and served on the street. In 2002 when we visited Hanoi we were reluctant to sit on a small stool next to the road. Not this time! We didn't eat pho in Hoi An because we were either coming from a meal or on our way to one. Hue was a different. Hue restaurant menus tended to give generic descriptions, so we easily changed our plans if something else came up. Hoi An restaurant menus gave full details - a much more seductive approach that had us salivating throughout the day. In both places we had dishes that we virtually dissected to identify the ingredients including the spices. Restaurant prices, especially alcohol and beer (USD 0.75), are 1/3 to 1/2 the price of comparable KL restaurants.
|Where we ate|
|Good local recommendation (From Camillia Hotel, turn left, walk |
several blocks, Chau Loan Pho on right hand side - near corner)
On a walking tour of Hoi An we stopped at a merchant's house (over 200 years old). A family member was making these white rose dumplings. This family is the only one that makes them and sells them to Hoi An restaurants. A treat exclusive to Hoi An.
We ate at the Secret Garden, were so happy with the meal we returned later for another dinner. On our second visit we revisited two dishes from our first meal and found them equally satisfying.
| 5 rainbow salad revisited - sea food (shrimp, octopus, calamari) carrots, |
cabbages, spring onions, lime fish sauce dressing sprinkled with peanuts
|Sour beef roll ups (again)|
|Snake Head fish (yes, it can be eaten and|
it is delicious)
Not pictured was a seafood soup. It had calamari, octopus, and shrimp in a flavorful seafood broth and consistency similar to egg drop soup, not to track down a recipe for the various items.
In between dinners at the Secret Garden we ate at the Sakura restaurant. It was close to an ice cream stand, which we intended to visit after the meal. We had a (1) mango seafood salad, (2) green salad with sour sauce, (3) tiger prawns stuffed with crab, and (4) grilled fish fillet in banana leaf. The "sour sauce" was a nice tangy vinaigrette. Everything was well prepared and tasty. We never got around to eating ice cream.
|Grilled fish in a banana leaf|
|Tiger Prawns - aptly named|
|Grilled chicken with lemon leaves|
|Chicken with chili and lemon grass. The 'flower" is fashioned|
from the outside of a tomato.
|Here the beef la lot looks like slugs - really tasty|
Hungry yet? You can see why we have been cooking a lot of Vietnamese meals since we returned.
Hoi An is described as a "shopper's paradise." It certainly seems so if you want clothes or shoes or want to have something made. A glance in a shop window will bring out a staff member say "take a look" or the more striking "buy something." We did want to pick up some things for our "gift drawer" to have an inventory of holiday gifts and small token gifts.
In Hoi An we also bought some kitchen tools - a scrapper that has proved to be excellent to julienne carrots, and cucumbers, a gadget to make decorative spring onions (it will be the first to go) and an industrial strength peeler.