Nov 17 2011
Hoi An is best known for its town — the beautiful riverside setting, the shopping, the food — but with two beaches within easy reach it also meets the needs of the beach lover, when it’s not rainy season. So where is the best place to base yourself: the town or Cua Dai beach?
To really make the most of a beach stay you need to be spending $200 plus per night on a hotel, which opens up the luxury resorts directly on the beach: Golden Sands, Victoria Hoi An and Palm Garden Resort. The River-beach Resort (Dong An Beach Resort) is also an option if you’re spending in the mid-range category and don’t mind a few minutes’ walk to the beach.
If you’re on a budget, then staying on the beach is just not an option: the cheapest place I found was still $40 a night for a basic room. Instead, stay in town and hire a bike for the 5km or so cycle to the beach; bikes are widely available for only $1 a day.
As for food options, there are lots of restaurants both along the beach edge and on Cua Dai Road, the road than runs to the beach from Hoi An town. I can’t attest to their quality but they seem to be standard Vietnamese fare, with a fair smattering of seafood.
For a higher quality and/or non-Vietnamese meal the resorts have their own restaurants open to non-guests – and Zero Seamile, on the beach, has an outdoor restaurant serving a la carte, set and buffet menus. It’s also the place to head for late night drinking.
If you’re in Hoi An for the shopping, the sightseeing and the dining, then an in-town stay is going to save you money and travel time: it also means you can nip back to your hotel for a post-shopping nap.
Whilst none of the in-town hotel options offer quite the extravagance of the beach resorts, if you’re looking for luxury and somewhere you can chill out it’s available at places like Life Heritage Resort, the Hoi An Hotel and the Ha An. Overall, you’ll find a much wider range of hotel classes available than on the beach.
In addition – expensive resort restaurants excepted — the food options far surpass those on the beach, both in terms of range and quality. And while they may not have the beach setting, river views are widely available from both budget and higher-end places. And you can’t beat a late night cake or ice cream at the Cargo Club.
If you have the luxury of more than just a few days in Hoi An — and the budget — why not stay in both? A few days in town then a few days of relaxation on the beach gets my vote.
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