VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Central Vietnam

Demilitarised Zone - Dong Ha - Lao Bao - Quang Tri - Hue - Around Hue - Suoi Voi Bach Ma National Park - Lang Co Beach - Hai Van Pass Tunnel
Ba Na Hill Station - Suoi Mo - Danang - Around Danang - Hoi An - Around Hoi An My Son - Tra Kieu - Tam Ky

AROUND HOI AN

Cam Kim Island
The master woodcarvers, who in previous-centuries produced the fine carvings that graced the homes of Hoi An's merchants and the town's public buildings, came from Kim Bong Village on Cam Kim Island . Most of the woodcarvings on sale in Hoi An are produced here. To reach the island, catch one of the boats that leave from the boat landing at Ð Hoang Van Thu in Hoi An (10,000d, one hour).
Cham Island
Cham Island is 21km from Hoi An in the South China Sea. The island is famous as a source of swiftlet nests. It's also part of the Cu Lao Cham Marine Park - comprising eight islands, it's home to 155 species of coral, 202 species offish, four species of lobster and 84 species of mollusc. Diving trips can be arranged through Rainbow Divers. Permits are needed to visit Cham Island, which still houses a naval base. Public boats leave from the landing on Ð Bach Dang in Hoi An between 7am and Sam and the one-way journey takes three hours, but it's difficult for foreigners to organise the paperwork to travel on one of these boats. It's easiest to book with a travel agency - a day trip costs 18,000d, while an overnighter staying in tents on the beach is around 35,000d. These tours are heavily dependent on the weather.
Thanh Ha
Not so long ago there were many pottery factories in this village, 3km west of Hoi An, but the industry has been in decline. The remaining artisans employed in this hot and sweaty work don't mind if you stop for a gander, though they're happier if you buy something-Many tours to My Son visit here on the way hack to Hoi An. For a more personalised experience, contact Mr Trung (Tell: 922 695), a villager who arranges day tours, including lunch and transport, for around USS10.

CRAVING THAT PERFECT FIT
Caution - having clothes made in Hoi An is extremely addictive. You may be able to walk past the first few tailor stores without wavering but given that you're likely to pass dozens every day you spend here, chances are you'll eventually crack. And when you do, watch out. It's not unusual to see even hardened blokes gleefully ploughing through fabric rolls, trying to pick the perfect satin lining for that second new suit Hoi An's numerous tailors can make anything and usually within a day. They're master copiers -bring in an item of clothing you want duplicated or a picture in a magazine, pick out your fabric and the next day your vision will be brought to life. Many have current fashion catalogues to leaf through. They're also extremely skilled in the art of flattering and pampering. A fitting session can do wonders for the ego - 'You look so -good in that...why not buy another one?' Bargaining has a place here, but basically you get what you pay for. The better tailors and better fabrics are more expensive. One of the hundreds of tailors will probably knock out a men's suit for US$20, but a good-quality, lined woollen suit is more likely to cost US$40 to US$70. Shirts, skirts and casual trousers hover around the US$10 mark. The trick is to pick a shop you're comfortable with know your fabrics, check in advance on the details (thread colour, linings and buttons) and allow plenty of time for fittings and adjustments. When buying silk, it's important to ascertain that it's real and not a synthetic imitation. The only real test is with a cigarette or match (synthetic fibres melt and silk burns), but try not to set the shop on fire. If you're concerned about its authenticity ask for a cut-off sample of the material and go outside to test it. Similarly, don't accept on face value that a fabric is 100% cotton or wool without giving it a good feel and ensuring you're happy with the quality. Remember to check the seams of the finished garment: a single set of stitching along the inside edges will soon cause fraying and, in many cases, big gaping holes. All well-tailored garments have a second set of stitches (known in the trade as blanket stitching), which binds the edge, oversewing the fabric so fraying is impossible. Where possible, also insist on the clothes being lined, as it helps them move and fall in the right direction. There are so many tailors that it's difficult to single out individual stores for mention, and impossible (although tempting) to test them all out. Most use a range of outsourced workers who can vary in quality. If you're planning on getting a lot of stuff made, consider trying out a couple of shops with small items before taking the plunge on your wedding dress. That said, some places we're heard good things about are Phuoc An (Tell: 862 615; 6 Ð Le Loi), Yaly (Tell: 910 474; 47 Ð Nguyen Thai Hoc), A Dong Silk (Tell: 861386; 40 Ð Le Loi) and Faifoo (Tell: 862 566; Ð Tran Hung Dao).