In the aftermath of November 2017's biblical floods we're still pounding out advice to future visitors concerned about their hotel choices post flood - it's complicated. However to help future visitors we have taken this as an opportunity to explain why it's so important to put a little bit of extra thought into your flood season hotel booking choices from the offset.
Image: Stolen from the Chi Villa Hoi An's FB page, it's just too perfect for this post
THE FLOOD SEASON - WHEN
Except in the event of a typhoon (a rarity here), Hoi An's floods are very much governed by the full moon tides in the monsoonal months of October through to December, and though October brings Hoi An's highest rainfall - unless the full moon falls towards the end of the month, it's very rare for the town to flood during this time.
Though historically Hoi An has been subjected to many floods, it's only in recent times that they have become an almost annual event. The reason for the increase in frequency? Deforestation and heavy rains in the mountains and the resulting build up of water in the hydroelectric dams and reservoirs that feed Hoi An's rivers. That water has to go somewhere and what the last few years have taught us is that Hoi An doesn't need a lot of rain to flood.
CHOOSING A HOTEL DURING FLOOD SEASON
If like many visitors you're hoping to time your visit with the lantern festival (the eve of the full moon) choose a hotel outside of the flood zone (or at least ensure you have a flexible booking that allows free cancellation). This removes any concern should the flood levels rise and there is still plenty to do outside of the old town should the worst happen.
Image: The Almanity Hoi An Wellness Resort, our readers choice for best flood season hotel
DURING A FLOOD
Rather concerning is that as a general rule, hotel staff (with the exception of a good five-star) are useless in the event of rising flood waters - in some cases to the point of putting their guests in danger. It's quite common that most will still be assuring their guests that everything is fine despite their reception desk disappearing underwater. By the time the call to evacuate happens the surrounding flood waters are moving extremely fast, making transfers in a small sampan boat frightening at best. No one seems capable of giving any information; we actually called a few popular hotels located in the worst areas of the flood zone asking to book a room for that evening, an hour after the government had issued evacuation orders for the islands and old town - all of them were happy to offer us a room. One on Cam Nam island even offered us a boat to get to the hotel as the flood waters were so high at this point the bridge was inaccessible.
We've also been stranded in an old town hotel that decided it was safer to keep all the guests locked up for a few days while the flood waters went down than to evacuate as soon as the flooding began. It turned out that 100 meters from the hotel was dry land and despite staff coming and going on boats and being aware that normal life had resumed a five-minute paddle away, they decided on the guests behalf that they would be happier on lockdown, even to the point where guests were forced to cancel and rebook ongoing transportation.
With no electricity and no WiFi you are completely at the mercy of staff to pass on information.
Image: The best riverside wild card and our readers award for best customer care during (and after) a flood - The Hotel Royal M Gallery
POST FLOOD: HOTELS IN GENERAL
It takes approximately 12 hours for a hotel to clean-up and start welcoming guests after the flood has left the building. When you consider that these same hotels were forced to evacuate as flood levels lapped around their knees in the lobby, it's sensible to assume that it's going to be a bit damp for a wee while yet. If you value your health, cancel and book somewhere else that wasn't affected during the flooding.
POST FLOOD: FIVE STARS
All of Hoi An's five-stars are incredible during (and after) a flood - you are in safe hands. A great example of this is the M'Gallery Hotel Royal which is located in the flood zone. They were quick to evacuate and organise alternative accommodation for their guests and will not reopen until the 16th November. That's seven days of cleaning and industrial dehumidifiers pumping out all the damp air throughout the building before they will even consider it is safe for guests to check-in.
FLOOD SEASON TIPS:
Our best advice would be to take advantage of the low season discounts on hotels, villas and home stays at An Bang beach. It doesn't flood and you are surrounded by restaurants, cafes, shops - even small tailors that remain open regardless of what is happening in the old town.
Nearer the old town (an eight-minute stroll) and well out of the flood zone, The Almanity Hoi An gets our vote based on our readers feedback during what we will now name 'The Big Flood of 2017'. Many guests relocated here having been evacuated from their original hotels and the general consensus was that they went above and beyond to save guests valuable vacation time - the daily complimentary spa treatment was mentioned more than a few times here.
Image: The Chi Villa An Bang beach (because it's beautiful). For slightly less dollar, An Bang Beach Hideaway Villas or Beachside Boutique both ranked well in our readers poll
For more hotels and a guide to the flood zones, use this link