Ever wanted to try living in an entirely different country with a completely opposite culture? Even if it was just for a couple of months?
After backpacking for ten months I decided I needed a break. I wanted to settle down somewhere for a month or two. Somewhere I could get back into a nice routine for a while, eat good vegetarian food, be close to a beach, and focus on my online work. Ultimately choosing to live in Hoi An, Vietnam.
I have been living in Hoi An for about a month and a half now. With only half a month left on my house’s rental lease. “Living” might not be the correct term when it is only for two months, but still, when you rent a house, have long-term friendships, and know the town inside and out, it does feel like I really am living here.
1. Right Place, Right Time
The first reason I chose to live in Hoi An was because I was backpacking through South-East Asia. I wanted somewhere close by to where I started getting tired of backpacking. I had already backpacked through Thailand for two months, Malaysia for one month, and lastly Laos for one month. So, it was between either Cambodia or Vietnam. I knew Cambodia wouldn’t interest me too much because I was getting quite tired of city life and visiting temples. Something Cambodia and the famous Angkor Wat town of Siem Reap is known for.
I had heard many other backpackers suggest how amazing Vietnam was and how you should spend at least one or two months there to get the full experience. I applied for a three-month tourist visa and would be heading there with the hopes of staying in one place for one or two months and using the last month or so to backpack through the country.
2. Hoi An is Often Referred to as the Best Place in Vietnam
After deciding on Vietnam, I did some research on the best places to stay long-term. As it is currently March, the North of Vietnam is a bit cold right now for my liking. With temperatures focused around the higher elevation and surrounding mountains.
I knew I wanted somewhere that was warm and with a beach. Both Da Nang and Hoi An kept coming up. I did further Googling and found out that people are raving about how amazing Hoi An is. Da Nang, the more local, commercialized big city was said to also be good and a bit cheaper than Hoi An. Whereas Hoi An was the more touristy and expensive option, but said to be much more beautiful.
3. Best Vegetarian and Vegan Food
As a vegetarian it was extremely important to me to be able to get good food in a place I would be staying for two months. Once again, Da Nang and Hoi An were consistently coming up as the top places in Vietnam for vegetarian and vegan food. However, Hoi An has almost ten times more options than Da Nang, despite it being almost ten times smaller.
Thankfully, this has proven to be 100% true. I will write a post soon about all of the amazing vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Hoi An because there are so many good ones you will not want to miss out on if you ever visit here. As I am writing this I just finished an amazing braised eggplant and vegetarian sausage lunch in a strictly vegetarian restaurant that my friend is currently working at.
4. A Ton of Digital Nomad Expats
As many of you know, I am able to work online from my laptop. I have a marketing degree as well as experience with search engine optimization (helping company’s website’s rank higher on Google), search engine marketing (creating Google search and display advertisements) and doing freelance article and blog writing for other bloggers and companies.
Once again, both Da Nang and Hoi An were the highest rated cities for this in Vietnam. With many expats choosing the slightly cheaper option of Da Nang. Where you can get a nice studio apartment for $300 USD/month, whereas Hoi An is around $350 USD/month for a studio.
Funnily enough, I ended up renting a house with a friend I met in Hoi An and we each only pay $215 USD/month. So it ended up being cheaper here, and for a bigger place. Plus I love the company of having a roommate who also happens to work online.
5. Perfect Sized Town
Personally, I love smaller places that are walkable, cycle able, and yet still have all of the amenities and activities you need to not have to go to a bigger city to get them.
Da Nang has over one million population, a lot of big fancy hotels lining the beaches, big night time city lights including fire that spits out of the famous dragon bridge, constant heavy traffic and insane amounts of honking. Safe to say it was a bit too busy for my tastes.
Hoi An has just over 100,000 in population, an adorable old town that is UNESCO protected, a couple of really good day and night markets, and a beautiful beach with no big hotels blocking the views along it. What more could you ask for?
Choosing Hoi An
In the end I opted to live in Hoi An because of its beauty, its perfect mixture of town and beaches, the outstanding vegetarian and vegan food options, and its quaint size. Having first stayed 5 nights in Da Nang, I was about to rent a place there and just come visit Hoi An. However, I knew that everyone I met who had already travelled through here said how beautiful Hoi An was, so last minute I decided to come stay here for a couple of nights before deciding where I would rent a place for a month or two.
Safe to say as soon as I got to Hoi An I fell in love at first sight. There was no question in my mind that this would be the perfect spot to unwind, get back into a good routine, and focus on my online work.
Thanks Hoi An for truly being the best city in Vietnam!
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