After visiting the early morning floating markets on the Mekong Delta our guide took us down the small canals that filter off of the main river – we had the best time stopping for watermelon juice and wandering through the rice fields!
The Mekong Delta region in Vietnam is known for the early morning floating markets. I decided the best bet was to wake up before dawn (aka 4AM) and head off with a local tour guide to see the floating markets. We saw two types of markets – the first market started while it was still dark outside and sold vegetables that had a longer shelf life – such as potatoes, onions and garlic. The second market which begins around 6/7AM sells more day to day items that are fresh daily – such as bananas and pineapples. The boats travel from one canal to another until their boats are empty and the customers have fully bellys!
Ho Chi Minh City has been the most Westernized location in my South East Asia travels and it was unique to see a bustling street complete with Gucci and Hermes only to turn the corner and spot street food stalls and barbers on the road! I spent the morning wandering around with my hotel map in hand finding the hot spots of the city.
With less than 24 hours to spend in Ho Chi Minh City I was in quite the rush to see the city and take in all of the top sights in one morning. After passing by the markets, the Opera House, and the famous post office (family have you received your letters??) I met Manh on the side of the road selling his sight seeing tours by motorbike. Pressed for time, I made a quick decision and jumped on back of his bike for 2-3 hours of quick traveling! We rounded out the tour with a local beer in one of his favorite watering holes before he dropped me off at bus stop for my ride down south!
After my cooking class and having a bit of a rest I jumped on a bicycle and headed out around a few of the islands surrounding the town of Hoi An. The cycle tour had an emphasis on local craftsmanship so I had the chance to visit a rice wine factory and the homes of local families making bed mats and basket fishing boats. We made it back to Hoi An just as the sun was coming down over the river!
I have a new found love affair with Vietnamese food and I am so glad I decided to go into a locals home and try their cooking styles out for myself! After looking over many options for cooking classes in Hoi An, ones that were mostly in restaurants, I decided to do something a bit different and travel by boat to a local island to take a cooking class in someones back yard – yes it was outside! Over the course of four hours we made four dishes including beef satay spring rolls, clay pot tuna, papaya and carrot salad, and pork and shrimp pancakes!
Starting my morning at the Hoi An food market was quite the experience and going with a local lady made it that much better! Thom showed me many unique fruits and veggies and she explained their purpose for both food and medicine – such as lemon grass, which is used in meat marinades and can also be dropped into boiling water for a soothing vapor to cure a sore throat. We stopped to taste the most exotic foods which I had never tried before too!
The Ancient Town of Hoi An is more than just beautiful buildings and temples … there are amazing places to eat, unlimited tailors, fresh produce and many street side vendors selling everything from delicious mango cakes to jewelry!
Hoi An’s ancient town is located just within the town center and is the perfect destination while visiting the city. The Ancient Town is a wonderfully preserved example of traditional South-East Asia architecture dating back to the 15th – 19th centuries. I spent my first full day in Hoi An exploring the ancient town by foot – visiting a few of the temples and homes and just wandering down all of the little alleyways.
An Bang Beach is a small slice of heaven in Central Vietnam … just 5km away from Hoi An’s Ancient Town. I am so thankful that I planned to spend my first 24 hours in Hoi An at An Bang Beach, where sipping on coconut milk straight from the coconut is the typical day – to – day. The little home stay where I resided is quiet until Christmas Eve, so I was the only guest for the evening. The Avocado House, complete with a day bed outside the window, was the perfect place to relax and plan my adventures in Hoi An!