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Hoi An: A Charming Town

Hoi An along the waterfront

So, you’ve gotten your fix for adventure and the wild caves and jungle of Vietnam, now what’s next? Well trust us, there’s a lot left to see of this gorgeous country!

It can be a bit of a task however to decide what should be make the list. Lucky for you, we’re going to try to make that a little bit easier.

We’ll be posting regular recommendations for places to see and stay in around Vietnam. For now, we’re starting with Hoi An.

If you’re looking for culture, foods of all different flavors and spices, and a picturesque riverside town, you’ve got to make sure you make your way to Hoi An.

Its quaint cobblestone streets and endearing charm quite accurately portray the beauty of this country. Brightly colored houses in friendly yellows, blues and greens are a common site around this town; unlike many newer cities in Vietnam, they are built in traditional wooden materials, evoking a feeling of familiarity.

From the wonderful people you’ll encounter to the mouthwatering dishes served up and down streets and alleyways alike, you’ll be sure to leave Hoi An with fond memories and a good taste in your mouth.

Once an ancient trading city, Hoi An sits both riverside and oceanside. Its large harbor was once a major port of commercial spice trading. Now its location is most popular as a tourist destination, and the ocean is appreciated more for its beautiful beaches than its uses as a port of trade.

The beaches in Hoi An stretch along miles of coastline, with white sand beaches, blue skies, and the requisite palm frond umbrella shades.

Sunsets in Hoi An are spectacular, as the rolling pink clouds and orange sky are reflected all along the Thu Bon river (or if you’re just outside town, in the expansive rice paddies that surround this area). As dusk approaches and day light dims, the town takes on a more magical feel as lanterns light the horizon in every direction.

The town sits within a criss cross of charming streets lined with all kinds of restaurants- Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, all strung with pretty lights and lanterns, which you’ll see that Hoi An is known for.

Our favorite restaurant would have to be The Little Menu, which is both a restaurant and a cooking school. Classes are offered just a little walk away at Herbs and Spices, which the owners have opened to use as a space solely to concentrate on cooking classes and private parties. Check out both the restaurant and cooking school if you have time, and be sure to indulge in the fried spring rolls, mmm!

Take your time to strolling through both the markets, and through the well-preserved Old Town, to revel in its alluringly timeworn nature. Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town has many antiquated wonders to take in.

There is a majestic wooden bridge, called Chua Cau, with a Japanese pagoda perched atop. It’ll cost you a few thousand VND (21,000 VND = 1 USD) to cross over it, and on the other side, more of Old Town will be waiting for you.

There are also many silk shops, clothing shops, and tailors scattered throughout Hoi An. Many Westerners stop to take the time here to get clothes tailor-made, as the fabric choices and tailor choices are almost endless.

If you’re looking for a place to stay, look no farther than the Phu Thinh Boutique Resort & Spa. The staff is invited, welcoming, and will go out of their way to ensure you enjoy yourself.

Located on 488 Cua Dai Street, this boutique hotel boasts a beautiful green garden and is within walking distance of many little restaurants and shops. Insider tip: ask for a room with a pool view!

If you happen to time your trip with the full moon festival each month (held every 14th day of the lunar month), you’ll be treated to a visual delight, as the lights of Hoi An are turned off, and the town is alit by candles and aforementioned brightly colored lanterns (quick tip: be sure to purchase a few of these beautiful lanterns to take home, if you can spare the room!).

The lunar festival is a time for Vietnamese people to honor their ancestors, and so a spiritual aura descends onto the town on this night. If it suits you, you can buy little flower-shaped lanterns with a small candle nestled inside. These can be lit, placed gently in the river, and sent off into the night with your prayers or wishes.

Even if your trip isn’t timed with a lunar festival, this town will certainly not disappoint you in any way, so try to schedule a couple days here to see the sights and beauty of Hoi An.

Oxalis Adventure Tours

ONE DAY TOURS

If you are seeking a taste of the caves and really don’t have enough time then we recommend a one-day cave and jungle trek. We currently have three tour options for you to select, each with a slightly different style and suitability.

• Phong Nha National Park 1-DayOur family adventure in the Phong Nha offers a great taste of untouched jungle and impressive wild caves. It is the easiest level of adventure but there is still 5km of trekking and 2km of caving, and optional swimming during warmer weather into one cave. It’s suitable for kids from 12 and above with good fitness, and so this makes for a great day for everyone! It costs VND 1,650,000 per person (USD 72).

• Tu Lan Experience – 1 DayThis is one of our original one-day tours and still one of the best adventures in Vietnam. This one-day tour includes rock scrambling, 50m swimming through a wild river-cave, and up to 9 km of trekking through the lush jungles. You will also strap yourself in for a 15m descent down a ladder. It costs VND 1,800,000 (USD 78) per person.

• Hang Tien Discovery – 1 DayThis one-day tour is perfect for trekking enthusiasts eager to see the largest cave of Tu Lan but without time for the two-day experience. Hang Tien is a dry cave so no swimming required, but still includes up to 4km of trekking through mostly flat jungle and about 500m exploring this incredible cave that will no doubt impress with its grandeur. It costs VND 2,000,000 per person (USD 87).

TWO DAY TOURS

Our most popular cave adventures start from two-days providing an immersive jungle and caving adventure, each targeting a slightly different kind of adventure-seeker, or perfect for those who want to combine a couple of tours to see different caves and areas on one trip to Phong Nha.

• Tu Lan Cave Encounter – 2 DaysOur most popular tour exploring the famous jungle area of Tu Lan. On this overnight camping excursion, you will trek through a number of different dry caves, swim up to 500m through a couple of river caves, witness outstanding cascading waterfalls underground as featured in National Geographic, and spend the night at our jungle camp beside a gorgeous waterfall. It includes 12km of trekking and 3km of caving in total and is for those with a good adventurous spirit. It costs VND 5,500,000 per person (USD 239).

• Hang En Cave Adventure – 2 DaysFor two days, this is our best-value-for-money tour that includes one of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes you will see in this lifetime. This cave is considered the second largest cave in Vietnam and third largest in the World, and it also makes up one night of the original five-day Son Doong Cave Expedition being so close to the largest cave in the world. It includes visiting Ban Doong Ethnic Village, located in the jungle, and a magnificent campsite on a sandy beach inside the cave. It includes 22km of jungle trekking at times quite rocky, multiple knee-deep river crossings, and elevation change of 400m (the ‘hill’ you won’t forget), and 4km of caving. This is a level 3 adventure on a scale of 1 to 6. It costs VND 7,600,000 per person (USD 330).

• Hang Tien Endeavor – 2 DaysA two-day trek into the jungle to see the largest dry cave of the Tu Lan area, exploring 5.5km of this truly stunning cave, with a variety of karst formations. This 13km trek is suitable for those not too keen on cave swimming or too many hills, but still up for an adventure. This is a level 4 adventure between 1 and 6, with 6 being the most challenging. It costs VND 6,500,000 per person (USD 283).

• Hang Va Expedition – 2 DaysA technically challenging, but equally rewarding two-day caving adventure in the heart of Phong Nha National Park. This tour takes you deep into the jungle to one of the most spectacular river-caves, with formations not seen anywhere else in the world! It involves rock scrambling, wading through an underground river, bouldering and rope-traversing within the cave, to reach the rarest tower cone formations. This involves quite a lot of technical work due to safety, but is not overly difficult, it includes 10km of trekking and 3 km of caving.  This is a level 4 adventure, with 6 being the highest. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

THREE-DAY TOURS

Now, if you really want to increase the adventure and soak up the wild jungle of Vietnam, with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the area, we highly recommend a three-day caving tour of our Tu Lan or Hang Tien.

• Wild Tu Lan Cave Explorer – 3 DaysThis tour incorporates the very best of Tu Lan with two different jungle campsites besides stunning waterfalls, 3km of cave exploring through a number of caves, 1km of cave swimming and visiting some additional areas not included on our shorter experiences. Our three-day tour is very popular and tends to be booked out so get in quick to enjoy this thrilling jungle adventure. It includes 17 km of jungle trekking and with quite a bit of swimming you will need to have a good level of fitness. It is not for the faint-hearted, but still only considered level 3 adventure level compared to level 4 of the Hang Tien 3-day tour. It costs VND 8,000,000 per person (USD 348).

• Hang Tien Exploration – 3 DaysThis three-day tour stands out for combining a taste of Tu Lan with some river cave swimming, before crossing a mountain range to reach the valley for Hang Tien – the most astounding dry caves in the region, where you will enjoy trekking, bouldering over various rocky terrains to witnessing breathtaking patterned calcite walls & ceilings of Hang Tien. It’s challenging and definitely more suited to adventure enthusiasts who have trekking experience and prefer more challenging routes. It includes a total of 22km of trekking, 6.5 km of caving and an elevation change of 150m over one particular hillside. You will get wet, you will be challenged, but you will not be disappointed. Hang Tien is located adjacent to the Tu Lan area so you will enjoy the best of both worlds – a level 4 adventure out of 6 adventure levels. It costs VND 8,500,000 per person (USD 370).

FOUR & FIVE-DAY TOURS

For those looking for the ultimate adventure experience in Vietnam, and thriving for the real grand expedition of the world, you should opt for these 4-day journeys to explore the entire cave system of Tu Lan and the largest cave on Earth

• Tu Lan Expedition – 4 DaysYou will also explore all of the extraordinary caves in Tu Lan, including Kim Cave and Secret Cave that boasts phenomenal natural falls and karst formations inside these two unbelievable river caves. Complete a trek through Hang Tien Cave – famed for its vastness and magnificent formations. Our secluded jungle campsites are spectacular and mostly different from those visited on our shorter treks in the same region. This is a perfect alternative expedition for those who are unable to do Son Doong Expedition, still it’s challenging and not recommended for those without experience. It includes an additional night at Chay Lap Farmstay before the tour to ensure you are well rested and ready to depart early the following day. Level 5 on our 6 adventure levels. It includes 30km of jungle trekking, 5 km of caving, about 800m swimming through caves and one abseil in a cave in the pitch black – highly adventurous! It costs VND 15,000,000 per person (USD 652).

• Son Doong Expedition – 4 DaysBy now you would have seen some pictures of Son Doong Cave, and even they don’t do it justice. The record-breaking Son Doong Cave is hands-down one of the most stunning places on this planet Earth. The expedition is tough, but not too difficult so long as you have a strong resolve to achieve. It is surely one of the newest wonders of the world. Son Doong is not just another cave tour – it is life-changing to say the least. It includes 25km of trekking, 9 km caving including rope climbs, and the 90m ascent of the Great Wall of Vietnam using a ladder, elevation change of 400m and many river crossings inside and outside the cave. Level 6 on our adventure levels. It costs VND 69,800,000 per person (USD 3000).

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?  Visit our FAQs section where we have a lot of answers for your questions and concerns. https://oxalis.com.vn/faq-general/

WANT TO SEE VIDEOS OF OUR TOURS? Visit our youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/OxalisAdventurTours

WANT TO CHAT LIVE WITH OUR ADVENTURE CONSULTANT? Please look at the green icon at the right corner on your screen below to talk to our Adventure Consultant.