Hoi An is definitely our second favourite city in Vietnam after Saigon. It’s very touristy yes, but you receive decent services for your money and the foods are excellent (we kinda plan all our travels around the foods). Also, the city mayor had long ago forbidden all the restaurants in town to charge foreigners more than what the locals paid for, which made this town even more pleasant to visit.
Hoi An is also famous for its tailor industry, you can for example have a suit made over night at a decent price and excellent quality. But you could run into the risks of paying too much for it, so shop around for price before making the order because even though the shops appear to be of different owners, they might have their clothes made from the same tailors that worked behind-the-curtain. It’s the biggest industry in this town. Don’t be afraid to bargain in Vietnam, whatever they say, offer them half of it and walk away ;-), it won’t always work but it’s worth a try. We’re not good at bargaining ourselves, sometimes we just do it for fun and pay what we think the good is worth to us. People gotta earn their livings after all. We often give generous tips to those who need them the most (Xich Lo riders, street-food vendors, small family-run shops etc.) and negotiate our way with big hotel chains and resorts to make the most value of our money.
On our search for a quiet place to stay we came across Villa Hoa Su, a very small hotel with only 5 or 6 rooms and a huge garden that was so beautifully decorated that we ended up spending most of our time there. We appreciated the fact that they didn’t try to build a five-story “plastic” hotel on this ground and focused on offering guests a very unique experience instead. The common open space serving as the restaurant in the middle of the garden surrounded by fish ponds was actually an original ancient house that the owner had brought pieces by pieces back from Hue, the Imperial Capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945). Saying we liked this place a lot is an understatement. If we could, we’d move in here in a heartbeat.