Sooner or later you might find yourself wandering around in the busy yet beautiful streets of Hoi An, Vietnam. When this happens, try to remember these few tips, as I surely would have like to have known some of them before visiting Hoi An.
Here they are:
1. Pack a poncho/raincoat:
We visited Hoi An outside of the rainy season and still we found ourselves often running from clothing shop to clothing shop trying to keep out of the rain. The fact that we carried most of our photography equipment with us the whole time did not make things much easier. Luckily the KATA Minibee 120-PL backpack we had brought along had a nifty raincoat installed, which made things a bit easier. If you rather decide to skip the whole rain coat idea, the town is filled with old ladies selling multicoloured ponchos at a reasonable price.
2. Get yourself a suit:
It’s what the guys from Top Gear did while in Hoi An and we felt obliged to do the same. The quality is fairly good and the service is exceptional. How they manage to fully tailor a suit for you in one a day is mind boggling, but somehow they got it done. Our only problem was transporting it back home. Due to us only sporting backpacks, we had to find some way of tightly packing the suit into our bags without damaging it. Some places do offer postal delivery services if you’re planning on having more than one item or a whole wardrobe tailored.
3. Be sure to carry a versatile lens along with you:
You’ll be exploring through the old French colonial town for hours on end and you don’t want to carry a heavy bag filled with lenses and bulky gear along. Use a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 with built in VR or the Canon 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM. Both these lenses help you cover both wide angle and telephoto shots in one lightweight solution. Hoi An is an unbelievable town and you don’t want to miss a perfect photo opportunity due to having to hastily change lenses. Getting up close and personal with some interesting town features, such as friendly street dogs, wedding couples having their picture taken smack bang right in the middle of the road and tourists being pushed around in adult-sized baby carriages requires a versatile lens, so be sure to carry it along with you while wandering around in Hoi An.
4. Watch what you eat:
For lunch one day we made our way across the bridge crossing the river and were quite hastily urged by a restaurant owner to sit down at his establishment. He did look awfully like Ken Jeong, so we decided to give the man a chance, even though he was wearing a “Adididas” jersey. This should have been our first warning sign. We sat down and ordered a drink along with some food. We gobbled up our meals and continued exploring the streets. An hour later we were wishing we had listened to the warning signs and headed the other way.
5. Take the long road:
There is so much material for your photographic pleasure, it can take you a couple of days to capture it all. This includes the famous Japanese Bridge, beautiful old French architecture, candles floating down the river at night, toothless boat vendors persuading tourists to buy strange things or take a trip around town and even the aforementioned street dogs hungry for attention and a little bit of love. If you have a keen eye, you will definitely walk away with a couple of breathtaking shots, and a couple of pretty interesting memories to boot.
That’s all the advice I have for now. I hope these tips come in handy when you end up in Hoi An, and if you don’t plan on visiting this wonderful town soon, then make a plan!