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hitting pause in hoi an, vietnam

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

After arriving in Vietnam and changing our plans pretty drastically, we knew we needed to temporarily hit pause on our travels. A place to call home for a little bit and calm our minds. We were staying in Da Nang initially and tried really hard to love it. We just couldn't do it at the end of the day, so we took a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An and...well... we never left. We weren't sure if it was the magical glow of the lanterns at night, the quaint small town vibe, the variety of food, or the beautiful and colorful architecture; but we chose to call Hoi An home for a full month.

We found ourselves taking nightly strolls around town, riding bicycles, consuming endless amounts of passion fruit, meeting new friends, discovering the best restaurants, and enjoying the beach that was only 5 minutes away. We even had the pleasure of ringing in the Chinese New Year here with another travel couple we met, Alex and Liana (@acouplesworldtour). It was a beautiful and chaotic cultural experience concluded by one of the most over-the-top firework shows we have ever witnessed.

If there is one thing we've learned about traveling, it's that the people of a city usually make all the difference for us. We had the pleasure of meeting some of the most kind, fiery, and welcoming locals. Many Vietnamese have taken the time to get to know us personally and now recognize us out on the streets. The woman who owns our home stay gifted Bre some flowers and a dress for International Women's Day! They also invited us into their home for a traditional Chinese New Year breakfast and were always willing to go above-and-beyond to make us happy. Another amazing woman we had the pleasure of meeting was Moon -- the owner of Calm Spa. We spent a whole day at her spa (read below) and would've gone back multiple times had we stayed longer. However, the women in Hoi An make it very clear that they run the town! One day, I tried to take a picture of a cart of over sized mangoes. The woman who was selling the mangoes raised a plastic chair above her head and took a swing at me!

We will also forever remember this city as the place we launched our new company, Jipsē Interiors. Check it out if you haven't had a chance!

Where to Stay

Anh Family Homestay - A perfect budget spot with a good location. We had delicious breakfast every morning and easily walked into Hoi An town center multiple times each day. The family took really great care of us while here and made this place feel like home away from home!

K.A Villa - We actually didn't stay here, but we visited our friends place for a pool day. For the value and beach side location, you can't beat this spot. The staff was great too!

What to Do

Calm Spa - We have been to several massage places on our travels through SE Asia but this is by far the best experience we have had. From the minute we drove up, we were greeted and taken under Moon's wing. We experienced a full service day of spoiling -- including a foot soak, a body scrub down, a 75 minute massage, a facial, and a delicious lunch with wine! One of our favorite parts about Calm Spa is that they use all natural ingredients on your body that are grown in their beautiful gardens on the property. The location is in the middle of a rice field and the grounds on the property are so peaceful and relaxing. Moon (the owner) ensured we were taken care of at every step and getting to know her was one of our favorite experiences in Hoi An!

Nui Than Tai Hot Springs Park - We hopped on our motorbikes with our friends, Alex and Liana, and headed out on a daytrip to visit Nui Than Tai. Prior to leaving, we tried to do some research but were left confused by their website. We figured we'd just head there to check it out! After driving for 1.5 hours through the countryside, we were given a tour of the park upon arrival. We then selected the activities we wanted to partake in and headed inside. Our favorite part of the day was the mud bath! We soaked in warm, silky mud for over an hour. Afterwards, we felt amazing! Also, we loved the rainbow waterslides. We all four raced down them multiple times. The food at the park is expensive and limited (especially for vegetarians), so it's best to opt for the buffet or bring your own food. Also, a fair warning: avoid the marble dragon waterslide! Any slide that requires a helmet to ride should be avoided!

Five Seasons Tailor - After all of our friends recommended the tailors, Bre caved in and visited Five Seasons to have a couple of outfits made. She worked with a sassy, very skilled lady named Ruby. Bre showed Ruby a few photos, picked out some fabric, and went to pick up her perfectly fitted clothes two days later. You'll be asked to go back for a couple of fittings before your clothes are finished, so make sure you have have at least two full days. Five Seasons does high quality work for a very affordable price.

Marble Mountains - This is a nice day trip from either Hoi An or Da Nang. The mountains, composed of limestone and marble, were used as a secret spot to spy on the US troops during the war. Today, the mountains are filled with Buddhist temples, caves, tunnels, and great views from the top. Wear comfortable shoes because you'll be hiking a lot and the marble is super slick!

Where to Eat/Drink

Hola Taco! - It can be hard to find good Mexican food in SE Asia. Bre and I LOVE Mexican food, so we decided to try this spot. This casual restaurant knows how to make great tacos and delicious margaritas.

Cafe Havana - Great vibe here and although you won't actually find Cuban food, you will find an array of other great options (tapas, pizza, burgers, and even some Vietnamese food). Or, just grab a cocktail and enjoy live music on Friday nights. The two french girls running the place will take extra good care of you!

Minh Hien - Vietnamese vegetarian food at great prices. Vegetarian or not, you will find that this place offers so many options and every dish is packed with flavor. We visited this place a lot (like every other day)!

Phi Banh Mi - In the showdown of the Hoi An Banh Mi locations (3 big ones) this was our favorite! It can be a challenge finding vegetarian banh mi, and this place has a couple of veggie options.

Hoa Champa - The best and most high quality coffee in town. These people know their beans and offer so many options (strong, light, flavored, teas, etc). We especially couldn't get enough of the coconut coffee!!

Hien Coffee Bus - A locals spot with very inexpensive coffee. Also, everything is painted yellow and you can actually enjoy your coffee sitting inside of the bus!

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