02 Jun 5 Best Hoi An Day Trips – Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam is one of our favorite places in the world. We stayed with a wonderful host family and enjoyed the delicious food, ease of getting around, and interesting sights we could do on a budget. The following is a guest post from a fellow digital nomad on some of the nearby day trips you can enjoy from Hoi An.
On the town’s outskirts, magnificent rice paddies beckon, as do the nearby islands of Cam Kim and Cam Thanh – where artisans, farmers and fishermen go about their business as they have done for centuries. Such DIY excursions will reap rich rewards.
Further afield, however, there are famous destinations that are also worthy of your attention. Some of these sites attract uncomfortable numbers of tourists most days, so it’s best to hit them early before the big bus loads roll in.
Photo Credit: Hienmtd
1 – Cham Island
If you’re one of those selfish types who hates sharing your tropical paradise with the general public, get a move on and visit this lovely marine-protected island, one of the least-developed islands in Vietnam.
Day-trippers already come in numbers on public holidays and weekends but pick a weekday – especially out of peak season – and you may find yourself relatively alone, with just a handful of other Westerners scattered amongst the locals.
Cham Island’s coral reefs attract divers and snorkelers and some operators offer scuba diving, snorkeling and trekking packages at quite reasonable rates. The ferry there takes about 90 minutes.
Marble Mountain’s religious significance and amazing views make it one of Hoi An’s most famous and popular destinations.
Below the surface, a complicated system of caves and tunnels, interlaced with pagodas, shrines and gigantic statues, makes this an unforgettable experience. Go early to avoid unbearable heat during the summer months, as well as the hordes of tourists all year round.
The approaches to the peak of nearby Monkey Mountain, winding through what was once lush rainforest, feature some of the steepest inclines in SE Asia. It’s a ripper of a drive, curving sharply and climbing abruptly, so much so that standard bikes won’t make it with a pillion.
At the base of the mountain, the iconic Lady Buddha marble statue – viewed as a spiritual protector from natural disasters like typhoons – is almost twice the size of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer (67 meters). Behind her is the impressive Linh Ung – Bai But Pagoda, an active monastery and pilgrimage site for domestic tourists.
Photo Credit: Bernard Gagnon
3 – My Son
The ruins at My Son hark back to the early centuries AD when the Hindu Champa civilization ruled much of Central Vietnam. But in the case of the My Son ruins, it hasn’t just been the ravages of time at play.
In 1969, during the American War, the Nixon administration targeted the area from the air (because it was a Viet Cong haven) and blew most of it to smithereens. Later, canon fire on the ground completed the job.
The 70 or so well-preserved Hindu towers and attendant structures were hammered and nowadays, the site is pockmarked with craters as big as houses. All considered, some of the buildings are still remarkably intact; however, a large section of the site cannot be visited as it still hasn’t been cleared of UXOs (unexploded ordnance).
Photo Credit: Bernard Gagnon
4 – Nipa Palms
Although the Nipa Palms(Coconut Palms) have been a Hoi An tourist attraction for several years, few experiences can deliver, as they can, the illusion of ‘being the first person ever there’, of transporting one back millennia.
However, if you go by kayak or paddle board, you’ll enter relatively unexplored channels through narrow keyholes of encroaching foliage. In these areas the only sound – wildlife aside – is the gentle, slow, rhythmic swish of paddles dipping into the still, primeval waters.
And the only sight is the glorious Nipa Palm Forest itself, swarming over the Thu Bon Riverdelta in every direction. Some channels are shrouded by denser foliage than others, but uplifting shafts of light invariably pierce the gloom here and there as if by magic.
You can cycle, of course – but exploring the countryside is best done by motorbike. However, unless you’re an experienced driver (and licensed also – your insurance won’t work otherwise), consider taking a tour.
There are many options for day trips to My Son, Marble Mountain and Monkey Mountain (see above). Others include the spectacular Hai Van Pass. Always using the roads less traveled, this is an opportunity to come face to face with the real Vietnam.
You can explore the river delta and the nearby mountains via quiet countryside laneways, where only motorbikes can travel, avoiding the traffic on Vietnamese highways.
It’s your chance to meet the locals away from the tourist circuit, eat in backwoods diners and take in sites of cultural and historical significance along the way.
Author Bio: Hi, I’m Mike, and I’m currently living life as a “Digital Nomad”. When I’m not carrying around my backpack, I’m helping out the guys at Hoi An Now. The kind people at Intentional Travelers have let me share my tips on Hoi An with you today. I hope you like them!
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