For the snap-happy traveller, Hoi An can make for a memory card-sapping experience. To help you make the most of the town’s photographic charms, we’ve come up with a finger-clicking bicycle route filled with year-round action and vistas.
The start and end points have been fashioned around beach or town, so start at whichever end you like. We did it in perfect weather during the sunny dry heat of March, which made for an easy decision of a beach finish for a refreshing dip and sunset bia. If you’d like to go the other way, just follow this in reverse, of course.
Starting off at the live market on the steps of Cho Hoi An, Bach Dang Street allows for a few vivid market shots. This gateway to the main market square is the thoroughfare for heavily laden delivery motos (careful now) and is packed with opportunities to take photos that usually end up with captions like ‘Seven pigs on a bike’. From the market, proceed to panoramic by heading down the first river access alley off Phan Boi Chau. Proceed along this quiet laneway until 150 metres from the lane’s end where a small alley leads onto the Lower Cua Dai Road, stopping randomly en route to get some old town riverscape shots – this river section is particuarly phototastic at sunset.
Continue along the Lower Cua Dai Road until you hit a right hand turn signposted for Betelnut Homestay. Follow the road and it will take you to a bridge over to Cam Thanh (Tran Nhan Tong Road). Switch to landscape to capture paddy scenery — whether farmers are harvesting, or the rice is in its full brilliant green glory, you’re bound to get some good shots here.
Cycling onwards (a kilometre past Red Bridge), you’ll come to a small harbour where a passenger ferry will take you and your bikes along the river to Duy Hai Island, passing coconut-fringed banks along the way – is there a river mode on a camera?
Your ferry will drop you off at Duy Hai fishing port, where other senses will be awoken (it’s a bit smelly). If possible try to avoid the sleepy slot from 11:00 to 14:00 or you will miss all the fishy activity, although all is not lost if you do come then as you’ll still be able to catch a few shots of fish drying on mats, hanging and smoking. Take a right along the market road with the river to your left for a kilometre and take the passenger ferry to Cua Dai, passing the busy fishing boat packed entry/exit lane out to the sea.
Upon docking, head off along the small road, following it through colourful seaside villages, coracle boat makers and street stalls. This road eventually leads onto the beach road the final few kilometres before the end, or for some, the start, of the tour. If you’ve still got it in you, continue past the main entrance and head to the last beach restaurant where you can park your bike for free, avoid the crowds and get a throughly grand meal for peanuts.
If you do prefer to be guided and would like to learn more about your camera and how to frame the best shot, Hoi An Photo Tour run daily workshops.
By Caroline Mills
Last updated on 21st March, 2014.