hoi an city guide

The Most Hands-On Cooking Experience in Hoi An - Hoi An Eco Cooking Class

While visiting Hoi An, or Vietnam in general, it would be silly to miss out on taking a cooking class. With so many to choose from, you may be wondering where to begin.

During my first trip to Hoi An, I spent a day at Green Bamboo Cooking School. This time, I wanted to try something different, so Andrew and I decided to go to the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class. It shared some similarities with Green Bamboo Cooking school, but overall I think it gives guests a more hands-on cooking experience.

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WHAT TO EXPECT

Visiting The Market

Like my previous cooking class experience, the Hoi An Eco Cooking class begins with a trip to the Central Market. Here you’ll see the colorful lively market where many locals buy and sell their produce and other goods. If you’re a first timer at the market, it’s nice to go with a guide who can teach you a bit about the market and products sold there.

(Tip: Once you’ve been given the inside scoop, be sure to head to the Central Market on your own, and do it early! - before the parade of tourists comes through. You’ll see what I mean).

Bamboo Boating

After visiting the market, we drove to the cooking school which was conveniently located right beside the water in Cam Thanh Coconut Village.

Before the cooking begins, you’ll take a ride in a traditional coracle, better known as a bamboo boat, through the beautiful water coconut palm forest.

The local fisherman guiding your boat will teach you how to catch fish and purple crabs. He also attempted, with no success, to teach me how to properly paddle the boat… let’s just say I’ve been skipping arm day at the gym for way too long.

Hands-on Cooking Experience

After exploring the channels, you’ll return to the cooking school for quick refreshments. Then you’ll get down to business. You’ll be given an apron, a number, a chef’s hat, and full responsibility for everything you cook from then on. Everything we were to eat we had to make totally on our own, so if your cooking sucks, your food will suck… the head instructor’s words… not mine. No pressure.

We learned how to make rice milk, which we then used to carefully make rice paper. The whole process was so delicate and precise. We used our rice paper to make fresh spring rolls, which we dipped in a delicious sweet and sour fish sauce.

We cooked some of Vietnam’s famous Pho Bo (beef noodles), Aubergine with soy sauce, and a delicious banana flower salad. Then things got hot as we played with fire to fry up some Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes).

As each dish was finished, we placed it on a tray with our number, and, once everything was complete, sat down to a delicious and rewarding feast.

To end the day, everyone watched an incredible food art demonstration! Sadly, I didn’t manage to turn tomatoes into roses and carrots into flowers on my own. We were given special cooking tools, a mini cook book, and serious food comas to take home with us!


WHAT I LOVED

Unlike the Green Bamboo Cooking School, where each guest chose and prepared a single dish (but got to try a bit of everything), at the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class you prepare everything you eat on your own. Though it was a bit more fast-paced, I really enjoyed getting to learn more about each food and how it is made.

(Note: Since you were only responsible for preparing one dish at the Green Bamboo Cooking School, there was more time to relax and chat with the other travellers. If you’re looking for a more laid back experience, this may be a better choice for you).

I for one felt proud when I successfully prepared all of the dishes on my own… and even more proud when they actually tasted good. I also really enjoyed the Bamboo Boat ride - This was something Andrew and I wanted to do anyway, so it was great to get that experience and a cooking class all in one!

This class is also great for those with dietary restrictions. Even the vegetarians in the group were able to cook veggie-friendly versions of each dish (which is something you definitely won’t get at every cooking school)!

If a fun, hands on experience is what you’re after, then the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class is the perfect choice for you.

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BOOKING

To request a spot at in the class, head to hoianecocookingclass.com.

Note: I was a guest of the Hoi An Eco Cooking Class, however, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


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7 Budget Friendly Brunch Spots in Hoi An

I love a good brunch…

…so, while visiting Hoi An, I was happy to discover that the beloved meal between breakfast and lunch is becoming increasingly popular in the lantern lit city.

Whether you’re craving Western favorites, local flavors, or vegetarian friendly choices, you’ll find several places throughout the city where you can get your mid-day fix.

These were some of my favorite (and budget friendly) brunch spots. 


DINGO DELI

Dingo Deli is one of the best places in Hoi An to get a large-portioned, Western style brunch. Opened in 2010 by a western couple, the Deli’s extensive menu offers a variety of brunch dishes like French toast, eggs benedict, and breakfast burritos. All of these meals are served with your choice of bottomless drip coffee or tea.

If you’re not in the mood for a full breakfast, Dingo Deli has several delicious options on their a la carte menu as well.

(FYI: The Deli also has a quiet room, which is perfect for digital nomads wanting to get some work done while having a meal. When we visited, the use of this quiet space was first come first serve, but you may be able to reserve it in advance by contacting the folks at Dingo).

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Feel like hitting snooze? No problem. Dingo Deli serves up brunch all day, and, if you don’t feel like getting out of bed, they even offer delivery! Head to their website via the link below and get your brunch (lunch or dinner) delivered straight to your door!

  • Vegetarian Friendly ✓

  • Hours: 7:30am – 9:30pm daily

  • Location: 277 Cua Dai Road

  • Website: Dingo Deli


THE KEBAB SHACK

The Kebab Shack is another spot where you can get your brunch fix all day long. Opened by English owner Tim and his wife Ly Anh in 2014, this is the perfect place for English expats to go when they want a little taste of home… and we’re not just talking about their huge English breakfast.

At The Kebab Shack, locals and travelers alike can enjoy the hospitable atmosphere, while indulging in hometown favorites like Heinz beans, Magners Cider, and (almost impossible to find) HP Sauce!

The English aren’t the only ones who will find comforts of home here. The Kebab Shack also serves extremely affordable Middle Eastern style kebabs, and delicious Aussie beef pies!


ROSIE’S CAFE

Rosie’s is probably my favorite of all the brunch spots on the list.

Owned and operated by My and Thuy, two local girls and longtime friends, this cozy little café can be found tucked down a quiet alley, away from the hustle and bustle of the Old Quarter. Considering its proximity to the popular tourist destination, Rosie’s is actually extremely affordable. 

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The two girls say Rosie’s is the result of their mutual passion for coffee shops, and their desire to serve up a little something of their own. I was a big fan of what they’re serving up, and with loads of healthy options that everyone can enjoy, I think you will be too.

Start your day with one of their colorful smoothie bowls, avo toast, or Rosie’s signature Brekky. While you’re there, don’t forget to try one of their delicious cold pressed juices, a traditional Vietnamese coffee, or satisfy your sweet tooth with one of their milkshakes!

  • Vegetarian Friendly ✓

  • Hours: 9am-5pm Monday - Friday, 8am-3pm Saturday, closed Sunday

  • Location: 8/6 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai

  • Website: Rosie’s Cafe Facebook


MORNING GLORY

Opened in 2006 by Ms. Vy, local celebrity and author of the cookbook Taste Vietnam, this restaurant takes its name from the morning glory vegetable. Known for its resilience, the morning glory is able to thrive and survive in the harshest conditions, and (after rice) is the second most commonly eaten food in Vietnam. According to Ms. Vy, it symbolically represents Vietnamese character.

Morning Glory, the fourth restaurant opened by Ms. Vy, aims to give guests a broader view of Vietnamese cuisine by also featuring dishes from outside of Hoi An. Some of their most popular dishes among guests are their Banh Xeo (crispy pancakes) - and Cao lầu (YUM).

Check out the original Morning Glory restaurant, the Morning Glory cooking school, or one of Ms. Vy’s many other restaurant locations in Hoi An for a delicious spin on local favorites. You can also take advantage of their delivery service on their website!


HOI AN CENTRAL MARKET

For a truly unique experience, do as the locals do and trade your western brekky for a bowl of pho or Cau Lau at the Hoi An Central Market.

As the name suggests, this market is literally located in the center of town, making it the perfect place to grab a bite before a day of exploring the Old Town.

Though you will likely end up paying a bit of a foreigner tax on anything you buy here, a visit to the market still guarantees you a delicious meal and an experience you won’t forget - all for less than a couple bucks!

Don’t forget your camera! The sights and sounds of the market and its food hall are something you’ll definitely want to write home about.

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  • Hours: Open daily from 5am

  • Location: 73 Phan Boi Chau Son Phong


THE DECK HOUSE

For a delicious brekky on the beach, head to An Bang Beach’s Deck House.

From 7-11 everyday, they offer a variety of breakfast entrees ranging from veggie omelettes and breakfast bowls to avo toasts and traditional cau lau.

The prices are a bit higher here than some of the other spots on the list, but the beach views more than made up for it.

We loved beginning our day with a run to the beach, grabbing a bite here, then taking advantage of the Deck House’s lounge chairs to soak up some rays on the beach.

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  • Hours: 7am-11pm

  • Location: When you arrive at An Bang Beach, take a left at the end of the street. The Deck house will be located on your right.

  • Website: The Deck House


FISHERMAN

To all my vegan, Instagram lovin’ readers - this last one is for you.

The Fisherman is an affordable, sustainable, and vegan restaurant also located on An Bang beach. They serve up a delicious healthy breakfast all day, and boast one of the most insta-worthy interiors and restaurant patios that I have ever seen.

The Fisherman also has happy hour specials and hosts the occasional full moon party, so if you’re visiting Hoi An, be on the lookout for that, too!

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  • Vegetarian Friendly ✓

  • Hours: 7:30am - 11pm

  • Location: Head to An Bang beach via Hai Ba Trung Street. When you reach the end of the street, turn right. Continue down the path until you see The Fisherman on your left.

  • Website: The Fisherman Vegan Restaurant Facebook


MAP


Did I miss any?

Where is your favorite place to brunch in Hoi An? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Best Beach Spot in Hoi An (& How to Get There)

If you're heading to Hoi An, you're undoubtedly planning to spend some time by the beach… but with such a lengthy coastline you might wondering where exactly to go.

Well, when you look at the map, you’ll see you've got two main choices - Cua Dai and An Bang beach... but if you look a bit closer, you’ll see a littleeee spot between the two called Coconut Beach - a name I had hardly seen on the "go to the beach" sign by the main road.

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Located at the northern end of Cua Dai, just by the Boutique Hoi An Resort, this quiet little beach spot was my favorite escape from the hustle and bustle of Hoi An.

In the three weeks I was there, I can count on one hand the number of other foreigners I saw on the beach here, making it the ideal spot for me and my sometimes reclusive tendencies.

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By some stroke of luck, Andrew found this cozy little spot for the first time one afternoon while I was getting some work done at Hub Hoi An.

He was on a mission to find a cool spot at the beach, and discovered this absolute gem.

Coconut Beach was our go-to spot for the rest of our time in Hoi An. 

Prior to finding Coconut Beach, we spent our beach time by the two major beach accesses, and they were both always packed with tourists... more so An Bang than Cua Dai.

Andrew and I much preferred the local vibe, and peace and quiet of "Coconut Beach."

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Though it lacks the restaurants, bars, and shops found at the major beach spots, it does have a charming little snack bar bungalow.

At this little family owned bungalow, you can pay a small amount to rent beach chairs for the day, buy beer, icecream and other snacks.

The ladies who owned it were so friendly, and their kids were adorable.

As the sun went down that first day, we had successfully befriended the shop owner’s daughters. Though they didn’t speak much English, they played in the waves with us, and laughed hysterically every time Andrew intentionally wiped out in one.

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This is also a fishing hotspot, so the beach is lined with several bamboo boats. In the early morning, and as the sun goes down, lots of local fishermen could be seen heading out into the water and preparing their fishing nets.

Each time we came to Coconut Beach we were greeted with warm welcoming smiles… which is always nice when you’re in a new, unfamiliar place. By the third time we went there, the ladies stopped charging us to use the chairs, so we just had to pay for our beach beers.

Though there isn’t as much going on, I found the cozy “Coconut Beach” to be much more enjoyable than the larger beach accesses. If a quiet beach beach day is what you’re after, definitely head to this lesser known area of Hoi An’s coastline.

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LOCATION