With a full day in Hội An, there was plenty of time to explore the village and also venture a bit further from the busy town center. Since the touristy areas are focused around the Ancient Town, heading into the countryside means a more rural experience and a chance to see some local village life.
The Ancient Town
Along the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old Town area, no motorized vehicles are allowed. Free from buzzing mopeds and exhaust pollution, browsing the many shops is a relaxed affair. Almost every building has been converted to serve the visiting tourist, be it a cafe, bar, souvenir or custom tailoring shop.
Some buildings are in better condition than others, and restoration seems to be ongoing. A couple of the residences belonging to key merchants have been converted to small museums open to the public. As the cost of living in a tourist town inevitably goes up, most locals live outside of the designated heritage site. Here you will find busy streets teeming with a more local atmosphere, an abundance of markets, and significantly cheaper prices for food too.
Further Afield: Bicycle Touring
One of the best ways to see Hội An and the surrounding area is to sign up for a guided bicycle tour. These half-day trips can be custom tailored to your liking and are offered by several local companies, an increasingly popular form of eco-tourism. There are no hills to climb and most roads are well-paved; just be mindful of traffic which can get a little busy in the evening rush hour (thankfully nothing like a big city, through).
We signed up for an afternoon ride with Hoi An Cycle Tours, and our guide Hau was local to the town and very knowledgeable. He took us on a 22km loop of the countryside through farms, rice paddys, and dirt roads for an experience of authentic rural Vietnam.
Along the way we stopped at Tra Que Herb and Vegetable Village, renowned for its high quality produce and traditional, environmentally sustainable farming methods. On the Thu Bồn River, we were also treated to a paddle in a traditional basket boat. I had seen these curious boats before on an episode of The Amazing Race, and it’s as fun as it looks!