SUN HATS & UMBRELLAS
WHAT TO PACK
For a culture packed, festive city break, there's no better time to visit - although you might want to bring an umbrella, Têt Trung Thu also marks the beginning of central Vietnam's monsoon season.
Hoi An chills out (weather-wise) and dons its neon-hued party hat for the duration of September, when the vivid mid-autumn festival (Têt Trung Thu) brings technicolour dreamscapes of light, a carnival atmosphere and a motley crew of lion dancers to the old town streets in celebration of the final rice harvest of the year.
The days swing between hot and humid, and stormy with a chance of a monsoon. At the beginning of the month the wet weather tends to keep itself to late afternoon/evening, then towards the end, it's not unusual to lose a day or two to downpours. Floods in September rarely happen.
September is also the start of the western pacific typhoon season, though (touch wood) Hoi An rarely sits in their aim.
TIP: There is a very distinct rain boundary midway between the old town and beach. It can be raining cats and dogs in the old town and sunny and dry at An Bang (or vice-versa). Let the skies be your weather forecaster and don't cancel a pre-booked tour because it's raining where you are. It's likely to pass quickly and if not, your tour guide will have made wet weather arrangements.
Accommodation - Where to Stay
There really are more sunny days than wet, so it's still worth considering staying at the beach if that's your thing. In fact, that old question 'Hoi An - town or beach'? really comes into its own during September, if there is a sudden downpour it's better to be staying within walking distance of the action as taxis can be scarce and if your hotel is several kilometres from your planned destination. It's too easy to hanker down for an average meal at your digs than to venture further afield when the heavens open.
If you haven't mastered your camera settings yet your priority should be procuring a place on one of Hoi An Photo Walks excellent tours. The tours are run by the ever patient Pieter who's talents include a natural affinity and understanding of local customs and culture, an uncanny talent at unravelling (and breaking down) the mysteries of manual settings, along with tips on composition, light, how to see photographically.. all the ingredients that set you up with the confidence, swagger and gift of the gab to capture picture perfect memories of your adventure. Book the Heart of the City tour and you'll also be privy to some of the best secret shortcuts to avoid the festival crowds.
While it can feel like every day is a festival in the build-up to Têt Trung Thu, the main event is held in the old town - but be warned, it's also a big draw for locals so things can get hectic. The party gets started at around 15:00 with a colourful kids procession that disperses at dusk to make way for the professional lion and dragon dancing crews, providing pop-up street entertainment with a traditional dance off between lion and fan wielding tamers (expect bamboo pole scaling acrobatics and fire-breathing to a rhythmic drum beat) bestowing luck upon local business venues. The best photo ops are with the mini lion dance performances provided by cute local kids on the streets and in some restaurants, Line their pro-offered fan with a few dong and you'll be rewarded with a good luck dance of your own.
If you don't want the party to end, head out on Vietnam Vespa Adventures Streets and Eats night tour. It's a food lovers paradise with an aperitif of La Rue, a fun fuelled adventure for the culinary curious - taking you on a journey filled with softly glowing lanterns, secret hot pot hot spots with your very own chauffeur and a knowledgeable guide to introduce you to Hoi An's lesser known (but incredibly talented) pavement and patio chefs.
In prime position for drinking in the view, the newly refurbed (it’ll knock your socks off, and then some) Mango Mango, serves up some of the most exciting contemporary cuisine in Central Vietnam. We're focusing on Chef Duc's creative cocktails (three words - Sangria Del Passion) served up in the colourful dining room or on the elegant river-view terrace, which is particularly spectacular as the Hoi An horizon sparkles into life and locals light candles in lotus-shaped hoa dang (ceremonial paper lanterns) to float down the Thu Bon River.
45 Nguyen Phuc Chu, An Hoi
For family fun consider taking to Hoi An's waterways with Hoi An Kayak Tours or make the most of the less humid climes on an action-packed detective adventure with Urban Tales. Eat Hoi An offer a great street food tour where kids under six go free (and under twelves for half-price). Rainy days are made for testing out your knife skills (maybe not so for the kids) with a cooking class - our favourite is with Herbs & Spices who have a beautiful cooking school a two-minute walk from the old town.
Further afield, the Marble Mountains offer a good half day of Indiana Jones worthy cave explorations, My Son is at its greenest and should the rain come and the kids complain, Bana Hills is armed with some good underground theme park action.