Oct 06 2012
I’m going to quickly establish that there are not actually many bars in this Hoi An bar crawl guide, but plenty of plastic chairs on the street and quite a few restaurants, not all of which have what you would call toilet facilities, but that’s part of the fun, surely? Prices are based on two people, one dollar per person, not including snacks. Author takes no responsibility for shocking hangovers but would suggest the purchase of a bottle of two of Revive to aid recovery.
The beauty of this bar crawl is that it can be done at any time of the day, on foot and gives you the chance to mix with the locals, so before you go skipping out the door I’ll give you a little heads up about local drinking etiquette. Firstly, the only women you will find at most of these venues will be serving — not drinking. Generally speaking, in Vietnamese society it’s frowned upon for a woman to knock back a beer or two; fortunately the lovely locals don’t hold this against foreigners. For every sip you take there must be a cheers or mot, hai, ba YO; it’s manners.
Speed drinking is the only way to drink, and the local boys like nothing better than the occasional drinking game with the foreigner; if the bottom of the glass is tapped and they shout “Saigon!” you have to down the lot, “Da Nang!” is 50 percent and “Ha Noi!” just a small gulp (think of a map of Vietnam). These boys are generous and if they are enjoying watching your downfall they will ply you with beer – accept gracefully and offer to buy them one in return; they will very rarely accept but if they do this is not covered in your one dollar kitty. If anyone of them utters the words kong sey kong vrey (no drunk, no go home) and bring out the rice wine, it’s game over. These little plastic bottles of home-brew are lethal and it’s not rude to say “Kong cam on!” or no, thank you.
We start on the outskirts of town in a pretty little restaurant, Day & Night on Tran Cao Van Street. Four glasses of the local favourite bia hoi or fresh Beer will set you back 9,000 VND, making this one of the cheapest joints in town. The beer is indeed fresh and cold, which is a nice little luxury that you should make the most of now. Choose your seating to take advantage of the hustle and bustle of this little market street, too.
Your next venue is just around the corner to the right on Thai Phien Street, where you’ll find a series of popular local beer stalls. A can of La Rue and a glass of ice will set you back just 6,000 VND a pop at any of them — they don’t have electricity, so the ice will be needed to cool down that beer. This road is jam-packed with food stalls so if you are overcome with hunger fill up here on a delicious bun bao, a steamed slightly sweet bun filled with pork, mushroom and a quail’s egg (5-7,000 VND).
Moving on, head to the heart of Hoi An’s old town, which at this stage will have taken on a more fun atmosphere; all those ladies bantering for you to visit their shops somehow doesn’t grate quite so much after a few dragoons of beer. You are heading over the bridge to An Hoi and An Hoi Restaurant opposite the bridge, a beautiful riverside location with sweeping views across the town and perfectly acceptable toilet facilities. This is another bia hoi stop. It’s not the cheapest in town but the staff make it a truly memorable stop — let’s just say customer service skills aren’t their strong point. You’ll pay 4,000 VND a glass here.
Making your way back over the bridge and towards the market, pause at Quan An Restaurant on Hoang Van Thi Street. The setting is a beautiful old trading house, which brews its own bia hoi on the premises at 5000 VND a pop. Here you get a bird’s-eye view of all things market.
From here it’s up to you and what time of day you are getting inebriated. From early evening a “beer lady” sets up her stall on the corner of Le Loi where it meets Nyguyen Thai Hoc. She serves a selection of local canned beers with prices starting at 10,000 VND. This is where you will meet all the bar promoters slacking off from their promotional duties and where you will hear about all the seat-filler freebies at the late night venues in town, like Happy Why Not, Volcano Bar and the Aussie Bar — they offer free drinks between about 19:00-22:00 in the hope that you will stay until much later.
Day & Night Bar
42 Tran Cao Van
Local beer stall
Thai Phien St
An Hoi Restaurant
37A Nguyen Phuc Chu Street, An Hoi
Quan An Restaurant
19 Hoang Van Thi St
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Tags: bia hoi