Living in Hoi An Vietnam

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Everything on living in Hoi An after almost 6 months here. This post started out as a bit of a whinge about how dull it was sitting still for a couple of months but in our second month, after starting this post in the wee small hours, we went out for breakfast and a bike ride and I found myself falling under a car.

Being alive and content in an ultra-charming little riverside town with its wonderful people suddenly wasn’t so bad. More on my accident down the page, back to the slow travel thing.

Hoi An city destination nomads travel slow travellers

Over the last 5+ years of nomadic travel we’ve had several slow travel periods but it’s never been a style we’ve embraced and has always been brought on by necessity. We’ve spent months on end in both London and Romania but I can’t think of anywhere else, in 50+ countries, where we’ve stayed in one place for more than a few days at a time.

We ended up living in Hoi An for over 2 months before leaving and returning for another 3 months. By the time we left we were in love with this town and not one of us wanted to leave.

Living in Hoi An

D (my son) worked hard to put this little video together for you. As you can see, we’re working on getting YouTube up and running with talking to camera videos, but we’re not quite ready to publish yet. This just gives you a taste of life in Hoi An, the place, the food, lifestyle, and our house. This video was all taken before we invested in proper video equipment. Unfortunately, we can’t go back in time and re-shoot with what we have now.

I Love Hoi An And I Love Vietnam

Hoi An Dragon Dance. Living in Hoi An
I love this town! The kids are rehearsing right now for the next full moon. There will be dragon and/or lion dances. It’s incredible to watch them practice in the evenings and we’re always welcomed with smiles.

Hoi An is a lovely town for expats or digital nomads, it’s not another Chiang Mai, there’s no malls, movies, co-working spaces or ice skating, but it’s a lovely town with cute shops, interesting markets, beautiful countryside to explore, wonderful people and great food.  For malls you need to visit Danang, they are there along with the ice rinks and Starbucks, about half an hour up the road.

The house we rented just outside the Old Town was amazing, brand new and very budget friendly and there are some big day trips to do to nearby places. It’s not perfect for a long stay but it’s extremely pleasant. There are beaches in Hoi An too, but we’re not generally beach people. So although I sometimes struggle with slow travel and feel that my wings have been clipped, I LOVE this town. In many ways I didn’t want to leave.

Finding a House or Apartment in Hoi An

We arrived in Hoi an From Ho Chi Minh with an Airbnb reservation which went bad, thankfully. When we saw our planned Airbnb we took to Facebook and found ourselves a beautiful, brand new, 3 bedroom house within hours.

It cost us under $20 per night. We can put you in touch with our landlady, Dao, she has a couple of houses and is one of the nicest people you could meet. Contact her through the Facebook page of her tailor’s shop, Khan Tran Tailor Shop. she also makes excellent shirts.

There are plenty of places to rent in Hoi An but you’ll sometimes need a minimum of a 3-month visa because of government regulations.  Expats mostly stay out of town, some towards the beach, many near Cua Dai Rd., some prefer paddy fields, we chose to be within walking distance of the Old Town. Check the flood maps if you are staying in the wet season.

Hoi An Life, Routines and Food

Mi Quang what to eat in Hoi An Vietnam
Mi quang from a tiny shop in the countryside. The best places only serve one dish and it’s always perfect. I could write poetry about this mi quang it was so good. $1, breakfast.

During our first few months in Hoi An Chef’s training took priority and if you know what Ironman is you’ll know that he was training for 3 disciplines, swim, run, bike. A stupidly long swim, an insane bike ride and then a full running marathon at the end.

He trained for hours, 6 days a week and we let him have the prime 5 am to 9 am slot. That’s when I would have liked to be running, going to yoga or practicing my photography, but I couldn’t and that didn’t help with my stir-crazy feeling.

Once that was all over I could do all of the above and it was great, we had a small gym almost opposite our house and I was able to run in the countryside, this is a perfect place for fitness-minded people but you need to be used to the heat. Between November and March temperatures were very pleasant, even cool.

We normally ate out at least once every day. Breakfast was usually pho or mi quang from a street stall and we’d have a restaurant meal in the evening. We rarely eat 3 meals, usually just late breakfast and dinner so with the ultra light, ultra delicious ( but not spicy) Vietnamese food we all lost a fair bit of weight. That was great for me, not so great for the boys and our Ironman.

We bought fruit at the market to make smoothies at home and I rarely cooked much more than eggs, veg, tofu and fresh rice noodles. We could order pizza online and have a movie night on our huge flat screen TV, we found great pizza and they accepted our Payoneer card ( that’s Amazon paying for our pizza, thanks Amazon!) They could deliver Vietnamese dishes, Indian and baguettes, it was almost like having room service, but I prefer to be out mingling.

If you crave western food and company, head to Jim’s Snackbar or The Happy Buffalo, but be warned, once you hit these places the weight starts going back on.

Costs of Eating Out in Hoi An

Prices start around 20-30,000 Dong for superb street food. You could eat mi quang, cau lau or pho 3 times a day and pay no more than $3-5. Of course if you hit up the tourist restaurants you’ll pay more but some good restaurants, the markets, street stalls and pho joints will feed you incredible, healthy nutritious food for minimal cost.

If you need western food expect to pay from around $4 at Mix Greek restaurant,  around $5 and up for a pizza, around $4 for a great burger at Jim’s snack bar and so on. A western style coffee at Mia comes in around $1.30, their cheesecake is superb at roughly $2. Take yourself to the Happy Buffalo for beers and incredible, well priced Vietnamese/Western fusion bar food, it’s a great place. ( It has now changed hands)

Vegetarian and Vegan Food

I prefer to eat vegetarian or vegan but my family are omnivores so compromise is needed. I haven’t as yet found a vegetarian street food stall but most restaurants have a good selection of vegetarian options.

They do tofu well in Hoi An. Vegetarian and vegan restaurants do exist but my boys mostly won’t go to them without bribery. Try Cafe 43 on Trang Cao Van for a good mix of vegetarian and meat lovers’ dishes, or opposite Minh Hien Vegetarian restaurant is exclusively meat-free.

Prices for a vegetarian dish in either of these two restaurants start at around 40K Dong A lady on this street also sells great Mi Quang in her front room at just 20 K Dong. It’s not vegetarian. Most Mi Quang stalls charge us 30K .

Staying Fit, Running, Cycling, Gym and Yoga in Hoi An

We can recommend Trinh Xuan gym on Nguyen Tuan, it’s a solid, cheap, basic gym. For a more up-market gym with air-con try Super Fit Gym and Yoga on Ly Thai To. Nomads Yoga is also good, find them on Facebook for their daily schedule, in summer they also offer beach yoga. We run and cycle seriously, the road to Danang and beyond is OK for bike training. There is a local Hash House Harriers group that meets infrequently. If you Hash, get in touch, if they know there are a few people in town they are more likely to organise an event.

Danang (Da Nang) Nearest Big City to Hoi An

Danang has most modern conveniences from fantastic cinemas ( with plenty of movies in English) to shops and supermarkets selling genuine goods. It also has the amazing Dragon Beach which shoots fire and water on weekend evenings. Transport between Danang and Hoi An is easy enough with local buses and taxis readily available. Danang also has the nearest airport to Hoi An and nearest railway station. Marble Mountain, just outside Danang, is well worth seeing.

Wi-Fi Speed and Powercuts in Hoi An

The wi-fi is the best we’ve encountered anywhere in the world. It’s strong and it’s fast. In the run-up to APEC we had one full day when power was off and one period of 4 hours. We had notice that power would go off both times but it was still incredibly hard to cope with in the heat. Often one side of town has power, another doesn’t, so you can get on your bike and find a cafe if you try. People talk about the wi-fi going down in Vietnam because of under sea cables ( there is some truth in sharks chewing the cables apparently). We got the chance to talk to a Hanoi IT professional ( through our local Hash House Harriers meets) and he said it hasn’t happened in the last 2 years, but you never know.

The Hoi An Admission Ticket for Long Term Travellers

Hoi An Museums Ticket. Living in Hoi An
Hoi An has over 200 ancient buildings and around 20 are open to the public on the Hoi An ticket system. Some are museums, this is the Cultural Museum, others are simply traditional homes kept exactly as they were built for over 130 years. These buildings flood regularly, to a depth of up to 2m. And still they stand.

This is a tricky one to get information on before arrival, but now we are here the infamous Hoi An ticket is no problem at all. Adult visitors ( kids are free) need to buy a Hoi An ticket to go into the numerous museums and ancient building that are open to the public around town. You DO NOT need a ticket just to wander around Hoi An.

The only snag with this is that the Japanese covered bridge is considered a ticketed item, so visitors simply wanting to cross can get very angry when they are asked for a ticket. I’ve seen it happen.

There is a second bridge that you don’t need a ticket for just metres away, but I guess they don’t realise. If you visit early or late there is rarely anyone checking tickets on the bridge and I’ve walked over it dozens of times without a ticket.

I have bought a ticket and we spent a pleasant half day exploring some of the museums with the kids, it’s a nice thing to do and with them being free it’s an absolute bargain. The ticket will only get you into 5 attractions of your choice.

Pre Wet Season Heat (September- October in Hoi An)

Cham Ruins Hot Vietnam

It’s insanely hot, from 30-37º C here right now ( September). The wet season will be here any day and we’ve already had a near-miss with a cyclone.

Mostly we’ve had blue skies with rainless thunder clouds rolling in around sunset. It’s dramatic, beautiful and hot.

We picked this climate for Chef’s training, but we’d much prefer it cooler. For most of the night we need to run the air-con, we’re used to tropical heat but this is intense. We only have air-con in our bedrooms, that’s typical here. By day we’re fan only.

It’s rare to find anywhere with air-con, no restaurants or coffee shops ( other than Dingo Deli) have it. It’s OK, everyone manages. But laundry piles up incredibly quickly and we’re very glad of our washing machine.

The video below is Chef and I cycling in the downpour the cyclone brought.

Living in Hoi An in the Wet Season

Hoi An Old Town Flooding Depth and Years
Flood levels in one of the restaurants on the waterfront. Today, November 2017, I’d guess that the water is to the top-most marker, all of the Old Town is flooded.

The wet season hit us in late October, days of torrential rain, but interspersed with sunny periods and a welcome drop in temperatures. It was still warm enough for fans, but no more air-con. The rain wasn’t much of a problem until a cyclone or typhoon came too close, then 4 days of torrential rain brought on the typical Hoi An floods.

Living in Hoi An When it Floods (November to December)

Living in Hoi An flooding in the Old Town
The scene in the Old Town this morning. Motor boats replace scooters, life goes on. Hoi An Flood season, November 2017.

Life just went on. Today you’ll need a boat to get around the old town and there are plenty. Some roads outside the Old Town are flooded, some aren’t, we still have power and wi-fi but we can’t get an Uber and no restaurants are delivering food.  There is a full post on Hoi An flooding experiences here.

If you’re thinking of staying in Hoi An through the wet season take a look at the flood map before you rent a property.

Living in Hoi An in January

January has been cold! Daytime temperatures sank to 17º C and we needed a light fleece in the evenings. Locals wrap up in coats hats and scarves, I guess it’s the only chance they get to wear them. There was also a lot of rain in January but interspersed with some sunny periods or even days. We swam in the sea one day in January, air temperature was good but the sea remained very chilly. On other days the beach was gloomy and cold, the water rough and murky.

Coffee in Hoi An (and wine, tea, and beer)

Best Coffee in Hoi An Living in Hi An Vietnam
The best coffee in Hoi An ( for our western tastes) is Mia. Their cheesecake and carrot cake is also spot on. They were housed in a smaller building until a few days ago, they’re now in their beautiful new home on Rue des Artes. We love this road, packed with galleries and amazing photography. Can you see Chef and the boys there?

If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know that my veins flow with Americano black coffee, Earl Grey tea and red wine. I have all three here in Hoi An.

Coffee is semi problematic as we can’t buy instant and we don’t have a cafetiere, Aeropress or any other travel coffee maker with us. But we’ve found a couple of fixes.

Firstly, the little stainless steel over-cup Vietnamese coffee filter works just fine and you can buy one for around a dollar in any market. Secondly, our favourite coffee shop, Mia, sells great Arabica beans which they grind freshly for you.

Vietnamese coffee tends to be sweet, chocolatey or caramely and we don’t like it. There are loads of western-style ( mostly Australian style) coffee shops and roasteries in Hoi An, as well as traditional Vietnamese coffee joints. Mia wins hands down for us, they also do great carrot cake and cheesecake. Unfortunately, they don’t have air-con so I can’t really sit down there to work. Dingo Deli has coffee and air-con but their coffee leans more towards Australian long black than Americano, also it’s a lot further away.

Living-in-Hoi-An-Shopping-at-Hoi-An-Market.
We do our shopping in the market. This is the central market, there are a few others away from the main town. Other than corner shops, the markets are the only place to shop and the only places that sell fruit, veg, meat, noodles and fish. We buy mountains of fruit to turn into delicious smoothies.

I bought my Earl Grey with me from Sainsbury but there are plenty of fancy tea shops around and most local supermarkets in expat areas have a selection of western goods. Every corner shop sells wine ( from $7 up ). Although mostly I’ll have a Saigon Green (from 50c up)  if we’re out, it’s colder and wetter.

Things to Do in Hoi An

Living in Hoi An cycling in hoi an fishing boats
Another day another bike ride. You can cycle to the pottery village, the silk village, the fishing village or the carpentry village. It’s all beautiful and once you’re off the main roads it’s as safe as cycling will ever be.
Hoi An Lanterns Living in Hoi An
Hoi An’s famous lanterns are just as pretty as I remember them 17 years ago. We loved this town on our first 1 month tour of Vietnam, we chose it because of that and knew what to expect. We’re pleased with our choice.
Hoi An Lanterns Living in Hoi An
I’ve wanted to work on my photography for a long time and there’s fantastic inspiration here in Hoi An with galleries such as this one ( It’s also a free Hill Tribes museum). I have a photo tour booked soon, so hopefully a little expert help with my camera. (Update, Photo Tour Guy #1 failed to deliver and never contacted me about my booking so I went with Pieter of Hoi An Photo Walks, it was superb!, More to come)

The Night Market

Living in Hoi An the night market
In some ways the Hoi An night market is very similar to those in Chiang Mai or Bangkok. The kids can still fire little winged whatsits into the night sky (they’re cheaper here) . There are pluses and minuses. It’s not same same.

The night market is on the far side of the river, opposite the old town. It’s pretty tacky but fun. This is the “party” side of the river with plenty of bars, there are also nightly fun games and attractions along the water’s edge, it’s fun for kids.  More on Hoi An with kids here.

There is an abundance of street food and cheap restaurants over this side, quality is variable. See our full Hoi An food post here.

Getting Around Hoi An

We hired bicycles at $1 per day, others prefer motorbikes or scooters. Uber is OK in Hoi An and cheap but quality of service has deteriorated in the last 6 months.

There are plenty of taxis around. Taxis, as in most of SE Asia, are cheaper than Uber or Grab. We have NEVER been ripped off by a taxi driver not had any difficulty. They’ve all used their meters and we tip them well. There are local buses to take you to Danang .

The Traffic Accident and the Fabulous Vietnamese People

We’d already be blown away by how nice everyone is here, hotel owners, our landlords, the guy at the corner shop, my mi quang lady, just about everyone, but my accident brought this into sharp focus.

What happened was this, we were all out cycling. Mostly it’s pretty safe around here, there are plenty of push bikes and mopeds but not too many cars and trucks.

Some streets in the Old Town are pedestrianised and bicycle-only and in the countryside, you see little on the road other than ducks and water buffalo, so we use the bikes a lot.

Yesterday morning we were passing the market on a congested, slow-moving traffic street. I got distracted, I wasn’t looking at the road and I hit a drain cover causing my bike to topple towards a passing car. There was nothing I could do to stop myself falling. The car hit my foot and pushed me back the other way towards the gutter.

It’s a bit of a blur, I’m not sure exactly how it all happened but I have one bruised foot, one skinned foot, a big bruise on my hip plus a mangled bike. I was very lucky to not go under the car.

It wasn’t nice. I’ve always ridden bikes, I cycled across Cuba for my 30th birthday and I biked to work every day in London. I just lost my concentration and took my eyes off the road and it’s the first time I’ve fallen off a bike in about 25 years. Falling seems to hurt more at 50. But there you go, stuff happens when you least expect it.

Chef falls off from time to time too, it’s inevitable. He’s caught his wheels in train tracks, skidded on wet surfaces, cars have run him off the road (never in Vietnam), all sorts.

He’s usually moving fast with his feet clipped in as part of his Ironman training and yes, it scares me but so far he’s been sore, nothing too major. Always take out travel insurance, it’s vital

What I wanted to talk about was the response from the local Vietnamese people. I’ve never experienced such extreme kindness anywhere in the world. They scooped me up, sat me down, massaged me with Tiger Balm, got ice onto both feet, gave me a drink and a shoulder rub.

It was so nice of them. From our experiences here it seems pretty typical, the Vietnamese just are nice, happy people.

I have no idea why Nomadic Matt famously had such a bad time in Vietnam that he left. Seems crazy. Anyway, I asked Chef to take this picture to prove my point. Did you ever see such a kind bunch?  So thanks ladies and gents of Hoi An, you’re superstars and I’m a bad cyclist.

bike accident hoi an vietnam

My bike was fairly badly damaged, I was expecting to have to pay for repairs. Instead, our landlords took the bike away, welded it back together, bought me dressings for my feet and were just very concerned. Amazing kindness, they see human beings, not dollar signs.

We have only good things to say about the Vietnamese of Central Vietnam, they are extremely friendly and welcoming, and a smile and a sense of humour go a long way.

What is Slow Travel?

You can’t put a time limit on it, it’s a matter of slow-for-you. We tend to stay as long as we need or want to stay and then move on. We can’t right now. But that’s what we prefer.

So the time you spend depends on how much there is to do and how much you want to do. We cope much better in London, with endless places and events to keep us busy, and strangely, in Romania.

You’d think there was nothing to do in a tiny village but Breb (one of our other home bases) works its magic on me. I just have to look out of the window to be perfectly happy there.

It’s related to climate too, we don’t like this extreme tropical heat so we do tend to stay indoors more to escape it. In contrast, we love getting out in the snow, we all do. Everybody is different and everybody’s definition of slow travel will be different.

 The Advantages of Slow Travel?

Living in Hoi An renting a house
We’re renting a house. It’s beautiful, new and comes with air-con, wifi, drinking water on tap and a washing machine. We have bags of space and the price is great.  

There’s a list of advantages of slow travel that most people can recite. Slow travel is cheaper, it’s better for the planet and you really get to know a place. I think that’s about it.

They’re not big enough advantages for me. We didn’t discover much more in Hoi An in the third week than we did in the first one but what happens over time is you become part of the local scene.

We live here now and are generally accepted as locals, we fit, it’s home, we have friends. It just makes it so much harder to leave.

We’ve undoubtedly saved a lot of money. Our house rental cost us way less than any hotel around here (under $20 per night) and includes washing machine, internet, drinking water, and gas for cooking. I’ll give you the final cost when we see our electricity bill.

We’re running the air-con all night almost every night in two bedrooms and it’s going to cost us. We’re used to the tropics and rarely used air-con at home in Queensland, but it’s seriously hot here right now.

Is Slow Travel Necessary With Children?

For my children no, absolutely not. They love what we’re doing now, they love that we’re not doing much so they get to play more computer games. I don’t love that. I’d rather they were busy and getting out and about more, so that’s a big part of why I don’t enjoy slow travel so much.

Once we reached the 6-month mark in Hoi An, they had local friends that they were sad to leave.

When they were younger we could take them out to playgrounds but they’re too big for that now and I couldn’t let them go out alone here. That was one of the big attractions in Romania, they could wander the village freely and safely. Here that’s out of the question with the obstacle of the main road traffic.

We have taken them to pottery classes, Vietnamese lessons, bike tours, shows, cookery, and painting sessions. They enjoy them once we get them there.

They enjoy riding the bikes, they like Vietnam and adore Vietnamese food, but it wasn’t very exciting for them at first because we weren’t doing enough and were initially too isolated in the house.

It’s one of the reasons I’d rather stay in a hotel or guest house, being in a house puts you behind high walls.

After a few months that all changed and we had far too many social opportunities, how you live your life changes with the duration of your stay. We have a full post on things to do in Hoi An with kids.

Is Slow Travel Necessary as Digital Nomads?

Yes, it is. It’s very, very hard to travel at any kind of pace and work at the same time. Although this slow, 5 months plus in one place, isn’t required.

Generally, if I’m working I feel bad that the kids are doing nothing (they’re perfectly happy, it’s a mum thing). But quite honestly I’m hardly doing anything you could call work even though my days are relatively empty.

When we travel faster I seem to be more productive. It must be the pressure.

Living in hoi an as expats

What Do Our Future Travels Look Like, Will They Be Slow?

I doubt it. When we travel, we travel fast, but sometimes we stop to live a-while. Hoi An has certainly become one of our living places and we will be back.

I was incredibly sad to leave our new home and honestly wondered why we were leaving. Yet again, we’ve lost our hearts to a destination.

More on Hoi An life and things to do soon (this post will be updated and others added)  For now we’re busy creating our complete Vietnam travel blog and guide, check it out.

How are your plans looking and have you tried slow travel or settling for a while? Do you dig it?

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

38 thoughts on “Living in Hoi An Vietnam”

  1. Hello
    I’m a Hash House Harrier (walker only). My home hash was Vung Tau but my most frequent hash is Phnom Penh. Also did Saigon Hash and Bunbury Hash (WA) a few times.
    Will spend a week in Da Nang from tomorrow 3rd November 2023 and was hoping to walk 5 or 6 km with local hash (Da Nang or Hoi An.
    Can someone please tell me if there is a trail set between 3rd and 10th November?

    Reply
    • I can’t help you sorry. If you can get hold of Peter (Pieter) of Hoi An Photo Walks, he may know. I know he’s back in Hoi An. I think he changed the name to Hoi An Discovery Photo Walks. You should be able to track him down if you Google.

      Reply
  2. Hello,
    Thank you for writing this article, it was very interesting and had a lot of helpful points and information. When I made the move to Hoi An, Vietnam earlier in the year I found it very hard to find any clear information on finances and banking in and outside of Vietnam. As a suggestion, a future post on how to manage your finances abroad, especially in Vietnam would be extremely helpful as it is a very important topic?
    When I arrived in Vietnam I came into contact with a very helpful international financial advisor. He helped me with setting up retirement funds and plans, offshore banking, property, mortgages, insurance and much more.
    He made the financial aspect of my move much less stressful and I would highly recommend him to all expats.

    Reply
    • Hi Bob, thanks. When we were in Hoi An we just carried on as usual, using our international bank accounts, We have accounts in many countries and handling our money in Hoi An was no problem at all. The only problem came when somebody skimmed our credit card in a 5 star hotel. The card had to be cancelled and then we had to find a way to get the card to us in Vietnam. But we figured it out. Cash points (ATMs) are easily available and we had no issues.

      Reply
  3. Would the landlady understand English if I email her through her facebook page? Do you know if she has 2 bed houses? How feasible is it to travel from Hoi An to Halong bay? My husband has limited mobility, I don’t know if he would come with us. Do you think SEA is generally unsuitable for ambulatory wheelchair users?

    Reply
    • Most houses in Vietnam are tall, 2-3 stories, lots of steps. The house we stayed in had a downstairs bedroom, but there were steps to get to the front door. You can easily get the bus up to Hanoi. We were on that bus yesterday halfway. The semi sleepers, you kind of lie down, they’re very comfortable if you’re able-bodied. The train goes from Danang which is about 45 mins away. Dao speaks very good English. Try her, I know she has more houses now but you need to commit to 3 months or thereabouts. She knows everyone, she’ll probably be able to help you. Wheelchairs would be an absolute nightmare. You can rarely even walk on the pavement, we generally have to walk on the road, but the traffic, although it looks chaotic, we find actually pretty safe and courteous, nobody wants to kill you and scooter drivers just go around you.

      Reply
  4. Great article! I was in Hoi An last fall and am planning on returning in 2019 with my family and your article has given me some ideas about how things will be different with kids along. I love The Happy Buffalo shout out, my sister and her husband used to own it.

    Reply
    • The Happy Buffalo has now changed hands and we’ve heard it’s lost it’s …everything. So are you related to Evan and Lyndsay, Lydnsay is your sister? I hear a rumour they were expecting a baby, that true?

      Reply
  5. Great post! We’re from Sydney are planning to travel round the world for a year in 2019. We intend to go through SE Asia for at least 5 months and were wondering – what did you do about protecting yourselves from mosquitoes and malaria? Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Hello, this is such a great article, thank you for sharing! I have lived and worked in Vietnam for over a year and a half now (both in Hanoi and HCMC), as well as traveled around the country north to south. My friend and I are looking to go to Hoi An in a week and a half for a month. We have also moved our livelihood to online work and so we’ve decided that we should try to enjoy somewhere nice after being a bit worn out of the big, crazy city! We are very interested in finding somewhere with stable wifi for work and a kitchen we cook in for a reasonable budget. The house you found sounds amazing! We are only two working girls, so we wouldn’t even need that much. If you could put us in contact with anyone you know or help us to find something for a months’ accommodation, we would be so grateful! Any information you have would be wonderful! Please let me know! Thanks, Meaghan πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Did I not put our landlady’s contact in this post? I thought I did. If not, I know for sure her Facebook page is mentioned in at least one of our posts. If you can’t get hold of her try the Hoi An Expats Facebook page. But be warned, there are some really grumpy bitter people in there. Best of luck !

      Reply
  7. I’m sorry about your accident and it’s great you were not seriously injured. As a Vietnamese myself, I just want to add my view about Nomadic Matt’s article. I’m sure part of his story was true but some was exaggerated beyond the truth. He wrote while in Nha Trang, he was told high school student in Vietnam are taught to hate Americans. This is a total BS! Nha Trang, South Vietnam used to be American navy and military base in Vietnam war. Nowadays, a lot of Vietnamese Americans are from there. South Vietnamese people prefer Americans to Russians. There was a time especially when Russia was still a Communist state, Russians were called Americans without dollars by Vietnamese. I did a bit of research and there’s proof that he wrote that article two years before it was officially posted. Some said he needed money and he had to do something to draw attention or money, I don’t know.
    Back to the topic, I have to say the truth at least to me that Matt doesn’t have a friendly face. He came to Vietnam with an attitude “I bring business to you, I have a right to be treated accordingly”. In Vietnam, change less than 5 or 10 cents equivalent in US dollar, normally buyer leave it as a tip. Matt was mad when he didn’t get his 5 cents change. Seller got mad and gave him attitude. Vietnamese are not like Thai people have much experience with foreign tourists. They wouldn’t care if one tourist has a bad experience would affect tourist business. I’m just don’t understand that he, as an experience traveler, didn’t do his homework before travelling to Vietnam. A smile is usually a great ice breaker, respect local people and culture as a visitor is a must. It seems to me he didn’t pay much attention to this trait of culture. I’m sure there are scams and bad people there but be cool to deal with it. Ask the price first before buying is that so difficult to do for Matt. And he should know the proverb:” if you make a fist to talk with me, I will do the same in return”.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I fully agree, the Vietnamese are wonderful people and we’ve never had any experiences such as Matt describes. Some tourists however are very new to Asia, I can understand that to them the Asian way is alien, haggling over prices and so on is something they will never have experienced in their home countries and they freak out or do it all wrong and there are a LOT of first time Asian tourists in Vietnam these days. I just hope they don’t find Matt’s post first because it must change their experience if they come here expecting to ripped off. Another saying, a fool and his money are soon parted. So long as buyer and seller come out of the transaction happy, who cares if you spent an extra 10,000 Dong!

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  8. Hi! Hope you’re healing ok. Another excellent post, thanks! We’re in Hoi An right now, for 4 nights, well 3 more now. We’ll be using all your tips with our 7 and 10 year old girls. Reading your bit about not meeting anyone and wondering if you fancied hooking up for a beer/coffee or whatever? No worries if not. I can PM you my personal blog link so you can check we’re not a bunch of weirdos! We’re a Scottish/Irish family on the road for a year and are about 5 months in.
    Off to hire bikes to head out to villages.

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  9. I never was for really slow travel before. A week, maybe two, in my absolute favorite places. A few days in the locations I just want to “visit” quickly to look at a few things. But that seems to have changed.

    I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to work on and I thought a week in each place I wanted to go to would be more than enough. I could work through the week and travel on the weekends, it sounded perfect. But time just flies by and I feel like I can’t concentrate the day before a travel day until I’m completely packed up with nothing left to do but try to be a bit productive. So that, and the travel day itself, are pretty useless to me. And, of course, the first full day in a new place you want to be out and about looking at everything.

    So I think I’ll try two weeks in each place, and I could see even staying a month – which has the advantage of being cheaper for rental rates. I never wanted to stay that long in one spot before. Now, though, I think it’ll just be more relaxing, as well as productive.

    I totally get how you could actually be more productive in shorter periods, with the pressure to just get it all done before you move on, but I’m finding I don’t want to do that anymore. Getting too old, I guess…I have about 15 years on you and I suppose it’s enough to make a difference.

    The problem is, I don’t know ahead of time what places I want to linger in until after I’ve experienced them. For instance, I know I could easily spend a month in Paris or London. But much as I love Bath, I’m not sure there is enough to do there to keep me happy for a month.

    So, I’m headed to Morocco in a few days, and I’m starting with a week in Tangier. I suspect I’d be happy for at least a couple of weeks there, and the maybe even a month at Essaouira, bc I do happen to like beach locations – just not laying in the sun or getting hot. So I plan to spend a week zooming through Chaouen, Casablanca and Marrakesh, then a week in Essaouira, scouting all of them out for future reference.

    I believe I’ve got some serious time in Morocco in my future, but I like to get a quick overview of places before deciding on long term plans. With such cheap flights between there and Europe, it’s easy enough to switch back and forth when I start to get bored after a month in one place, or a couple of months in two different places in the same country.

    But, at the moment, I’m feeling like I need a minimum of two weeks in one place to both be truly productive, and also get to relax. I enjoy my journeys as much as my destinations, but I find navigating the logistics – even just for myself – just stressful enough to affect my concentration.

    Maybe I just need to loosen up a bit. πŸ˜‰

    Well, we’ll see how it goes. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to explore new-to-me locations and excited about the possibility to find new favorites. One way or another, I’ll figure it out.

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  10. It’s crazy how often it floods there. I never knew! I’d actually love to visit during flood season though. Just to experience daily life then. I think Vietnam is pretty amazing. <3

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  11. This post made me miss living in Vietnam! However, it also brought back memories of our motorbike crash we had there, like you though, we were helped by some incredibly kind Vietnamese people. Glad that you escaped relatively unscathed, it sounds like a scary experience. Enjoy the peace of your apartment while you have it πŸ™‚

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  12. Such a wonderful post about Hoi An lifestyle & culture. These great pictures & videos are enough to know about Hoi An !

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  13. It does look beautiful there and I’m so happy your accident wasn’t more serious. With regards to exams we are having that same conundrum…..Georgina decided she “needed” to get her maths and English IGCSE’s-I ordered the maths book and now we are having a rethink LOL! Honestly, it’s jumping through hoops and she really has no interest in university. How can they possibly know what they want to do or be-I don’t even know.

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  14. Loved reading this account of your slow travel. You sound very much like me (only I’m a jasmine tea, earl grey and red wine drinker!) It’s so interesting to hear how you are always wanting to be busy. what is that?? It must be a mum thing. Honestly, we travel to the South Island and whereas Brian and the kids are happy to sit in and watch a film saying “it’s our time too, why can’t we just relax?” there’s me with the bloody guide book out looking for zillion things that we could be doing. anything. as long as it doesn’t involve sitting in the house.
    I’m actually quite nervous about taking a 16 and 13-year old around the world in December…They’ve already asked me 100 times “is there going to be any wifi where we’re going?’ I think a lot of it is our problem, not theirs. I have to make a mental note to myself each morning; ‘let everyone relax in their own way, Liz’. Trouble is, I think I’m a bit of a control freak… Something I’m working hard to overcome! So.A very longwinded answer to your short question is No. I don’t think slow travel would work for us (me) either.
    Hope the foot is feeling better πŸ™‚

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    • There is always wifi Liz. Except in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, oh, and parts of Cambodia, it’s mostly fine. Get around it with Sim cards. I’m going out to get my toenails done, stuff them, they can stay in with their wi-fi.

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  15. Great post Alyson and interesting to hear your views on slow travel. Also really interesting to hear your experiences of Hoi An and how it’s changed. It sounds like you would’ve been there previously about the same time I was last there (in 2000)! Hope you’re healing well.

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  16. Interesting perspective on slow travel. Would your kids prefer to be moving more frequently? Or less? I remember you saying a few months back that you had asked them and their preference at that point was to travel from a home base in the UK, but maybe that was just at one certain time. I do wonder about how travel will change for my own family as the kids get older. The adolescent years are such an incredible time developmentally; moving from complete dependance on parents to adulthood in just a few short years. What does it look like to be a digital nomad family with kids of 13, 15, 17 and beyond? Does having a home base limit their adolescent development or does it give them more freedom to start exercising their independence within a familiar setting? How does access to social media and online friendships compare to spending face to face time with peers? In some ways it feels like a lot of what we’ve just assumed about “normal” childhood development is being thrown out the window these days and I’m fascinated to see what living differently looks like for other families of all ages. Keep the updates coming, as a parent of younger kids who’s just making baby steps towards long term travel it’s great to have trailblazers to watch!

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    • It’s really hard to get answers out of them, they’re too young to know. They both love Breb and they both love London. They love staying still ( slow travel) because it increases their computer game time. That is most of the attraction of those two places but they do have affection for both, two very different places. I think they NEED both, to have 2 such vastly different homes and the life they offer is incredible. I don’t think anyone should be relying on their children to make big decisions like that because they just don’t have the experience or the self knowledge. It’s like that ridiculous ” What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. I never had an answer for that, I had no idea and no desire to work at all. I’d trot out nurse or teacher because it shut people up and they were “girl” things. I actually fancied being a zoo keeper but I knew people would laugh and tell me I could do better ( I was “scientist”) and back then I had no idea what a travel blogger was and that is 100% my perfect job. I do know, for sure, that educationally it’s been superb for them, but we’re getting to crunch time now, we’ll have to decide soon if D is going to sit any exams at 16 or not. He doesn’t know, I don’t know. It’s easy to arrange if he wants to, but should he? Will he ever need them? Will he ever wish he’d done them? They’re hard calls to make. I can’t imagine him ever having to apply for the sort of crappy job that asks for 5 GCSEs, I really hope he never has to. But maybe he hasn’t got it in him to be self employed. Who knows. Both of them have absolutely zero desire to go to any sort of school, but that’s not necessary, I just offered that option in case they wanted to be around same age kids. They don’t, they hate the idea, even for a few weeks. So they’re perfectly happy, as always it’s just me wishing everyone was busier and doing more. I’m dragging them to Vietnamese painting classes this morning because I thought it would be good for them. Let’s see how that goes πŸ˜‰

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  17. Alyson – i love this! Its great to read the day-to-day pieces – i think that’s one of the things that makes your blog(s) so special – variance from the ’10 Must-Do’s in 36 Hours In X City’ that is everywhere. You can do those, and still make them awesome, but it’s so lovely to get the flavor of how your travels are going, along with an invitation to peek into Hoi An. You know all this but just wanted to say! Miss you all and hello to the boys!
    Charlotte

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    • Hello Taft πŸ™‚ I try to do it all. These posts are for followers, the other sort are for Google. Notice the url is ” Living in Hoi An” Maybe one day if this one in getting good results in search console I’ll change it around and beef up the SEO for that term. I’m sneaky like that πŸ˜‰

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  18. Love this detailed, honest account of your time. I hope your foot heals and you get to move on as quickly as you’d like. I can totally picture Hoi An through your description and it both encouraged me to visit when we are in a Vietnam next year but also not stay too long. My kids will definitely be the ones begging not to go out – especially if there aren’t people to chat to. We are three days into a month long stay in a Trancoso Brazil and so far so good. People are so friendly and the girls still young enough to delight in hours in the sea and making sign language with other kids. Weather not great but that is helping with the necessary school work we must get in with! Thanks again for your fantastic posts.

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  19. Hello guys. Enjoying watching your travels.
    What equipment are you using for videoing?
    Thankyou!

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