In order to best discover a country, you need to live like a local. There are a number of social networks which can allow you to do this. Air BnB and couchsurfing are to name but two.
Another way which may not be the first option considered, is to stay at a homestay.
What are homestays?
Homestays are private rooms within a property, run by a local family. This may sound like quite a daunting expereince, but it need not be. If you are someone who can socialise, and enjoy immersing yourself in the culture of a country, then a homestay is worth considering.
My homestay experience in Vietnam: Riverside Hamlet Homestay, Hoi An
This restricted my ability to fully enjoy all that Hoi An had to offer. So I was determined to return and make some new memories.
This time, I was also returning with my husband in tow. We decided to stay in a homestay to gain a more authentic look at the country.
We choose to stay at the recently opened riverside hamlet homestay and villas. Located 2km from Hoi An old town in Cẩm An. Our homestay was owned by Kiet and his beautiful family.
It was a truly beautiful experience, and one I will remember for years to come. The hospitality, and genuineness of Kiet and his family was a real blessing to us.
Riverside hamlet homestay is approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour from Da Nang International Airport. Kiet arranged a transfer from the airport, and back again a few days later. From Hoi An old town, it is about a 15-20 minute bicycle ride, or you can easily jump in a moto taxi, cyclo or taxi.
One of the great things about the homestay was that it offered free bicycles during our stay, so we used them to go to and from the old town, and further afield.
Hamlet homestay has a range of rooms from poolside villas, to double ensuite rooms.
We stayed at the top of the house with our room overlooking the luscious green countryside.
The room was well equppied and spacious, and the bed was really comfortable. There was a large walk in shower room, with some lovely shampoo and soap.
We also had a small balcony with seats to sit out on, a kettle and some drinks/snacks.
It was perfect.
It is not often that you think of a homestay as having a pool. Riverside Hamlet is the one that does. It also has a jacuzzi and a few sunloungers. So if you don’t want to go and explore, you can relax for a few hours.
Each morning, you are served up with an incredible breakfast. There were so many options to choose from, from pancakes to local noddle dishes.
My advice however is to try the local dishes. For both of the mornings, I choose to have the Cao lầu, which is a regional noddle dish from Hoi An.
It is served with a fruit juice, coffee and pastry or fresh fruit. A filling and delicious meal to set you up for the day.
As with most homestay programmes, it is a requirement to get involved in the local vilage and culture.
Riverside hamlet offers a range of activities to explore, and you will have a local guide.
It is best to ask on arrival what is available when you stay.
Exploring Hoi An Old Town
I love the delighful old town of Hoi An. It has so much charm and colour. The yellow facades of the shops, and incredible lanterns are mesmorising.
One great way to explore it is to cycle in, park your bike up and take a stroll around. There are a number of boutique shops, as well as local clothing, food and souvenir markets.
Make sure you get your hands on some banana roti. They are delicious and my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
During our time in Hoi An, we also visited Palmarosa spa for a few luxury treatments (we were on our honeymoon, so it was totally warranted!)
I had such an incredible time in Hoi An, all made so special by staying in a homestay, and so glad I could make some new and precious memories.