If you pass through Hoi An during the wet season from October till December you’ll more than likely wake up to the pitter patter of raindrops. Luckily, Hoi offers up a stack of rainy day activities though — here’s a few.
When hotel rooms comes kitted out with an umbrella and every street is patrolled by a bicycle vendor selling 5,000 VND plastic bags fashioned into full-length rain coats, there is absolutely no excuse to pull up the Hello Kitty blanket and call it a pyjama day — especially when pjs are ideal attire for blending in at the market. In fact, the central market should be your first port of call on a rainy, grey day for a bowl of steaming bun bo, the perfect warm hug of a dish to set you up for a puddle splasher of a day.
Hoi An’s cafe culture comes into its own during the big wet, with French colonial-era buildings providing sheltered spots for photographers keen to catch conical hat-wearing locals wearing bright plastic macs gliding past on old fashioned bicycles; or that moment when the sun peeks through the clouds to dance upon the river Thu Bon.
Tiny barber shops line the town, so guys can stop in for a razor makeover for less than $5; the girl equivalent are the tarpaulin-covered salons at the back of the market for some threading or pedicure in a bucket for a dollar a go. Palmarosa Spa on Ba Trieu has actual qualified therapists and a spa area; the blind massage centre on Cua Dai meanwhile will have you purring with pleasure for a very low price. Big budget spa experiences can be booked through the resorts and whole days can be frittered away being preened and pampered in the fabulous Fusion Maya or Nam Hai.
Settle in for a movie or some sport via the big screens at Moe’s Tavern on Tran Cao Van, the 3Dragons on Phan Boi Chau, GTV on Phan Chau Trinh or the Dive Bar on Nguyen Thai Hoc. For a local experience hit the recently renovated Vietnamese cinema near the Ba Le Well, finished with all you can eat bahn xeo and a one-dollar beer crawl.
Sports can be played at various undercover venues on the outskirts of the old town; keep your eyes peeled for signs with a larger than life image of a steroid pumped weightlifter out front if a gym’s your thing, or negotiate a day price to use the facilities at one of the larger resorts.
Pool tables are a must-have accessory for every drinking venue aimed at tourists or for a more authentic experience the crowded billiard halls are great fun. Wet sports include bicycle or motorbike tours – Hoi An Motorbike Adventures provide complete wet weather gear and good rainy half-day options.
During September through till February there is a chance of surf – the Banyan Bar on An Bang beach and Hoa’s Place on the beach opposite Marble Mountains both hire out boards.
If your heart is set on a lazy day ensconced in your room, check out Legends DVD shop on Phan Chu Trinh Street for the best selection of movies and box set series for a dollar a disc or grab a book from Randy’s book exchange over on Cam Nam Island. A few restaurants are happy to deliver to your hotel, with choices including a curry from Ganesh, pizza from Alfresco or a few Western home comforts from Dingo Deli.
If you’re travelling with children at some point you’ll be climbing those four walls. If your heart is set on kicking back with a good book bundle up and head to Soul Kitchen on An Bang beach, where you can lounge around under cover while the kids run riot. The more adventurous families should grab a driver for the day and take advantage of what should be a practically deserted Marble Mountain, before heading to either the Big C or Lotteria Mart’s entertainment centres in Da Nang, where you can have a go at 10-pin bowling, catch a movie and have some fun poking around a grand scale shopping mall. If you want to keep your dining local, aim for Han market.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 12th December, 2014.