Time taken: Around 3 hours
Route rating: 7/10
Feeling groggy after an evening of drinking with the locals we were unceremoniously woken up by an exercise class going on in the park opposite. I rubbed my tired eyes and was shocked to see it say 5 a.m! O KY the Vietnamese would be up this early to go through the loudest most bizarre looking exercise routine I’ve ever had the displeasure of waking up to. Ear plugs are an essential for travelling around so I put in these buds of tranquility and soon fell back into a deep slumber.
We properly got up later in the morning and headed down to breakfast, on our way we saw an Irish couple loading up their bikes. This couple have clearly angered the Gaelic gods as they had none of their ancestors luck. In our brief chat they complained to us that they had broken down 15 times in 5 days. I honestly don’t know how that is even possible. Apparently one day they got 5 punctures! Feeling a little better about our situation we headed off for a breakfast Banh my before getting on the road.
There are two ways of getting from Kham Duc to Hoi An. The longer route continues along the HCM highway before eventually heading east on the QL14B. We opted for the shorter route along the QL14E highlighted in blue on maps below.
We opted for this route as we had spent the bulk of the previous day on the HCM and wanted to try something different. Today’s road did not disappoint as we almost immediately drove past a massive reservoir with beautiful vistas of tree lined edges either side.
The road then followed a winding river for the next hour and a half taking us all the way up to highway one. One of my biggest regrets of the trip is not investing in a better camera or go pro before we left. The snaps I managed to take on my iPhone are passable but are half as impressive as the sights our eyes feasted on as we wound our way up the country.
All was going smoothly until we had to turn off Highway 1 to pick up a smaller road going into Hoi An, Google had another of its tantrums and spent the best part of an hour taking us on a long loop around Hoi An with plenty of questionable U-turns thrown in for good measure. We eventually arrived at our hostel stressed and a bit dishevelled despite the sat navs best efforts to get us lost.
Ancient, historic and peaceful (well most of the time) Hoi An is like no other Vietnamese town. It has a rich history of trade serving as a major port in its many previous lives. What is so charming about Hoi An is that it is relatively untouched by the constant building occuring in all other Vietnamese towns and cities. It’s old charm and character has been reserved and a few days can be spent here walking around viewing the many fascinating buildings in the old town. Of course it is a complete tourist town but despite the hundreds of shops flogging the tourist tat and countless restaurants and tailors it still manages to retain some of its authenticity.
We stayed in Tribee Kiln hostel which was great. It had a free unlimited breakfast which was greatly appreciated after a diet consisting solely of Banh mys and pho, and organised events every evening to help people socialise. As one of the major tourist hot spots in Vietnam it has the nightlife to accompany it and plenty of cheap drinks can be enjoyed in the bars across the river from the old town. We spent the evening wondering along the river from bar to bar taking advantage of the various different happy hour deals on offer at the various bars.
The old town warrants a full day spent wandering around and exploring the different ancient houses, museums and communal halls. There are also countless tailors so if you have a few dong to spare this is one of the best places in the world to get a cheap suit made.
Hoi An is one of those places where you go for two nights and end up staying for 10 and we left after 3 having thoroughly enjoyed our time here.
For all sections of the trip click here