It is hard to believe that a 45 minute taxi ride ($20) could make such a difference.
Though Danang was a good place for us (especially staying at a nice Western style hotel while Naomi and Keegan were dealing with inevitable travel stomach trials), Hoi An is much more special.
This place is magical, from the super high quality tailor and leather shops to the paper lantern festooned river boats, to the lovely pedestrian streets lined with stand up bars, I think I am in love.
I have gained a particular new empathy for women in later stages of pregnancy, as many of the shopkeepers here know enough English to freely pat my belly and proclaim "Happy Buddha". I am briefly offended, and then realize that they mean absolutely no insult, just recognition. To be fair, I am a large person anywhere in the world. But in Hoi An, I am enormous. The one "off the rack" shirt I bought, which in the US would be XXL, was 6XL.
But "off the rack" is not where Hoi An shines. It features an incredibly walkable old town and extensive market where you can have pretty much anything made for you, in hours. I am ditching several old T-shirts which are just too heavy for these climates, and replacing them with tailored lightweight shirts, deliberately chosen in fabrics which will engender less sweat, and patterns which will hide the sweat which inevitably occurs.
We've loved being in a place with a pedestrian only area, which is dominated by one of a kind shops, tailors, vendors (including craftspeople and farmers selling their produce). We loved navigating the narrow alley streets, and checking out the local art. We enjoyed the banana crepe made in front of you, the sesame black sticky pudding, the $0.50 cold draught beers, and the incredible service ethic of the tailor shops.
Laura has already posted about our great food tour with Harry. We also loved the hotel we stayed at, the Acacia Heritage Hotel, which has an awesome pool, two for one mojitos, and great air conditioning, all an easy walk across the bridge from the market. That proximity comes in handy when your new shirt has to get adjusted three times to fit just right.
I got the feeling that Hoi An is still "old vietnam". Harry's tour gave us an appreciation for how hard the farmers who sell in the market work to deliver every day. We saw the pride in craftsmanship, the care for family, and the sense of community that we only got glimpses of in Hanoi and Danang.
I'd recommend Hoi An to anyone.