Safe would not be a word of choice to describe the overnight bus ride from Nha Trang to Hoi An. As we stepped onto the sleeper bus, we put our shoes in a plastic bag, chose our seats, and placed our valuables in the little cubby hole meant for our feet. Sitting upright isn’t really an option as the seats are essentially bunk beds. The bus is for the most part meant for tourists, most of our fellow passengers were Israeli backpackers with the exception of a few Vietnamese passengers picked up along the way.
We were able to sleep for most of the ten hour trip, but the ride on the small, barely paved highways was extremely shaky and the driver was going way too fast for the entire ride. There was one bathroom break at 3 AM, no toilet, just a vacant lot with four corners to do your business. We hopped back on and were able to sleep until a little after 6 AM when the driver announced, “Congratulations! We are in Hoi An.” Which we interpreted as: you’ve survived!
When we got off the bus, we were swarmed by hotel representatives and taxi drivers taking advantage of the fact that you are not thinking clearly so early in the morning. Still half asleep, we managed to walk into town and check out a few places on our own. We checked into a family owned inn with ten rooms and an energetic young owner with a big smile. For $13, we had all the basics; hot shower, bed, and weak wifi. We dropped off our bags and began to explore the romantic, quaint city. Hoi An is renowned for its many paper lanterns, hanging everywhere throughout the town.
During our week there, we discovered delicious Vietnamese cuisine like Bahn Mi sandwiches, Bahn Cuon rice noodles, and Bun Thit marinated beef dishes.
We found a bike tour, led by local university students who enjoy practicing their English and meeting tourists. They brought us to a nearby town of boat builders, a family who produces noodles in their house, a mother-daughter mat weaving team, and an old Chinese style Buddhist temple.
We ended our trip at a local cafe with 40 cent Vietnamese ice coffee, Ca Phe Sua Da, and chatted with our guide about her goal of becoming an accountant. We returned to that cafe every day after our tour for our daily afternoon coffee and game of cards.