One rule I try to abide by when traveling is to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site in each country. Australia has the Great Barrier Reef, Indonesia has Borobudur and Prambanan, and Vietnam has Ha Long Bay.
Hoi An is also on the list.
Unfortunately, with me visiting during the high season it was more of a tourist trap than a cultural destination. Though I loved the yellow-hued buildings and walks along the river that bisects the town (especially when chicken satay was sizzling nearby), shops overflowed with people all selling the. same. wares.
Leather goods. Paper lanterns. Paintings. Lacquer art. Tailored clothes.
The ever present motorcycle roared by and there was the constant call (found throughout Vietnam) of “Madame, do you want a ride/tour/fill in the blank?” It got annoying, but street hawkers are as much a part of a city as the actual roads and buildings.
When I called myself escaping to the beach with no swimsuit, even the waves seemed angry and exasperated. They crashed into the shore with a ferocity that surprised me and caused my own negative emotions to dissipate.
Hoi An’s true highlights were to be found up a flight of stairs or down a tourist-thronged alley.