After discovering that we had to wait for a week to get our Chinese visa, we decided to get away to Hoi An!
Hoi An was surprisingly relaxing after having visited Hanoi. The old city is absolutely lovely and it is pedestrian at most times of the day. To go to Hoi An from Hanoi we spent 18 hours in the night bus, but it was worth it!
In Hoi An, we met again with Clément and Vanessa who had found us a four-bed dorm in a nice hostel. We visited the city and ate again good food, especially the Cao Lau, thick noodles with pork, herbs and a delicious broth. We found a good spot for food in the central market, the only lady who did not push us to her food stall, and who ended up being the one where all the locals buy their food from.
But our culinary highlight of our stay was the discovery of delicious Banh Mi, the Vietnamese sandwich! We tried three spots and it is difficult to rank them: Banh Mi Phuong whose beef and egg Banh Mi was amazing, Madam Khanh The Banh Mi Queen with only one Banh Mi with pate, ham, and a delicious and unique sauce, and Phi Banh Mi with its friendly owner and yummy spicy sauce and bread.
During the day, we would wander around the old city, in the middle of the old yellow houses, walking along the nice river, sightseeing temples, and the Japanese bridge, a nice wooden bridge that was built around 1590. Hoi An used to be a trading port on the major trading route for silk. Rich merchants would set up their trading counters there from the 15th to the 19th century. It created a blend of architecture and foreign influences which make Hoi An a unique place in Vietnam. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
At night, the city lights with thousands of colored lanterns, it is beautiful and very romantic!
We did not do much in Hoi An except peacefully walking around. Note that Hoi An is also well known for its tailors. They are everywhere, trying to make you a suit or a dress, yelling at you from the other side of the street. It was a bit annoying, but actually I found two very nice dresses with pretty fabrics I had never seen anywhere else, so I was happy to renew a bit my clothes.
We also went to the beach! It is only 4 km away from Hoi An centre so we rent bikes to spend the afternoon there.
After this getaway, we went back to Hanoi, travelling again 18 hours, and we had the chance to meet our old friend Benjamin who lives in France! We discovered only the day before that we would arrive in Hanoi at 7am and that he was bound to leave at 7.30am the same day to go to Hoi An as he was on holidays in Vietnam! We managed to meet him at his hotel just before he left, so nice to see him!
We also got our passports back, with two magnificent Chinese visas, allowing us to leave Vietnam by the next night train! See you in Nanning!