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I concluded that the only real area for GRANDPAckers to stay in was in the heart of or within walking distance of the heart of the Old Town.
Some hotels out from center provide complimentary bicycles – they have to because, otherwise, it is too problematic for their guests to get around.
You can easily get from the Old Town to the Beaches on a bicycle… and, it is a pleasant 25 minute ride.
WHERE TO STAY:
It is worth noting that there is now a ban on building any more Homestays in Hoi An. The authorities believe that there are already too many Homestays. Any ‘new builds’ have to meet strict standards; those standards almost force any ‘new build’ to be to 2 star (plus) Hotel.
There are plenty of nice Homestays in and around Hoi An Old Town to choose from – many to GRANDPAcking Standard and at GRANDPAcking prices.
In Peak Season, a ‘good compromise’ may be to find somewhere half way between the Old Town and the Beach, or along the Song Thu Bon waterside on the way out of town, or somewhere rural like Tre Que Island, or perhaps Cam Nam Island.
However, I was not in Hoi An in Peak Season and ‘beach life’ wasn’t really going to work well this time of year. It still rained at some stage during the day on most days (some days it rained almost all day), the seas were still a bit ‘surfy’, and water visibility was less than 5m (which made snorkelling and SCUBA Diving below par).
On my first day I took my Hoi An Life Homestay ‘complementary bicycle’ (see, below) and spent the afternoon looking in and around the Old Town. It became obvious to me VERY QUICKLY that this is where I needed to be. I needed to get into and amongst this lovely ‘vibe’ – not stay out in the wop wops.
- Tran Hung Dao road to the north
- An Hoi Island (inclusive) to the south
- 18 Thang 8 road to the west
- Hoang Dieu road to the east
This is a summary of what I found and the best offers I could negotiate for a 14 night stay:
I considered the properties in red to be too far away from the ‘vibe’, the properties in orange to be ‘borderline’, and the properties in green to be workable options. The figure next to the property name is the ‘rating out of 10’ that the property gets in reviews. Underneath the property name I show the square metrage of the room, the room rate (VND1000s), the breakfast rate (VND1000s) – a 0 means that breakfast is included, and the per night total (VND1000s).
Hoi An Life Homestay:
Before I arrived in Hoi An, I used AGODA.COM to find the HOI AN LIFE HOMESTAY. With Agoda, you pay in advance on your Visa Card (with BOOKING.COM, you usually pay the hotel on departure in local currency).
I got a GRANDPAcking Standard Deluxe Double with a large hot water ensuite, good reception cable TV (with English sports & movie channels), and aircon & ceiling fan.
The discounted on-line rate was VND221k / night (less than US$10) including breakfast and a free bicycle. The breakfast was perfectly adequate and came with a free (small) tea / coffee. There was a reasonable choice on the Breakfast Menu including Egg Fried Noodles, Noodles Soup, Egg & Baguette, Fruit, or Pancakes.
You needed the bicycle as it was a 30 minute walk to the Old Town and double that to the beach. A bicycle brought this down to 10 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively.
An Hoi Hotel:
A GRANDPAcking couple would (probably) have chosen the Style Apartments on the eastern end of Dao Duy Tu street. It is not yet listed on any hotel search sites – the price will, probably, go up when it does to account for the booking site commissions. It was by far the nicest room for the money (but didn’t include breakfast – so, there was a ‘hidden’ cost of breakfast on the street each day). I reckon that I could have made a final offer of US$15 / night for 14 nights and gotten the room that I wanted at the front with a balcony overlooking the street. The room was modern and well laid out with clean lines; it reminded me of my room in the Vibola in Kampot.
HOWEVER, I chose the An Hoi Hotel on An Hoi Island because I wanted to get ‘right in amongst everything’. I cycled back down there on the Sunday and looked at their rooms again. They showed me 2 rooms: one at the back on the 1st floor with a window overlooking the backstreet and one nearer the front on the 1st floor with a window overlooking the pool. I liked the latter. The ‘decor’ wasn’t perfect – the walls could have done with a new paint job; but there were no signs of dampness nor mould (which, for me, is the most important thing).
The ‘normal’ price was US$22 / night (VND493k). Breakfast is included. The Hotel also has a small pool. The Receptionist offered it to me at US$18 / night (VND400k) for 14 nights.
I offered them VND350k / night – cash up front. The Receptionist said no. I took out my calculator and typed in ’14*350=’ and showed it to her. I asked her if she really wanted to say ‘no’ to VND4.9m? Or, if she would like to change her mind?
She said that she had to talk to her manager; she asked me to return 1 hour later – which I did. When I returned she had forgotten to talk to her manager (such things are normal in these parts of the world) but he was there. She talked to him in Vietnamese whilst I stood beside them; he agreed within seconds. We shook hands and the deal was done.
One of the things that I liked the most about the An Hoi Hotel was the 1st floor restaurant and its view out over the water to the Old Town. There was one table out on the balcony which I tried to get to whenever I could (which was more often than not because I am always up so early in the morning).
The An Hoi Hotel came with a free breakfast and has about 16 different breakfast menu items to choose from.
I worked my way through a few of them. They were simple but adequate.
I had already negotiated 2 free black coffees with my breakfast (instead of 1) because I like my coffee in the mornings.
I may have been a bit ‘hasty’ in limiting my area so close to the center of the Old Town.
You can easily expand that area by 2-3 kilometers in any direction; it is easy to bicycle everywhere (and your out-of-center Homestay usually provides your bicycle free of charge) – even if you want to pop in to the Old Town for a few drinks at night. Being DIC of a bicycle isn’t going to harm anyone.