I was at my hostel in Hoi An, having breakfast with two Swedish girls. They had been Hoi An for a few days and were telling me about this basket boat tour they had taken here. They told me it was possible to get there by bicycle and that it was a really nice ride. Taking you around the Hoi An countryside on the way to get there. So me and a Korean girl, who was sharing a room with me in the hostel, decided to rent bicycles out and make our way three. They kindly marked the route for us on the map and with help of good old technology from our smart phones, we were all set to go.
We set off on the bikes, in search of our destination. Admittedly we did get lost a couple of times, but thanks to some fellow tourists walking by, they were able to point us in the right direction. We ended up making a stop a quick stop, at a beach, we came across, on route to the place. We parked the bikes and went to check it out.
Cua Dai Beach
The beach is called Cua Dai Beach. There are sandbags all along the beach, between the sea and water. I later found out that they are put here to stop erosion problems, that seems to be a big issue here sadly. It was fairly quiet while we were there. There was a place to have food there and of course there is always someone selling something. This lady was very insistent on selling us some buddha necklaces. “You get one for your mum, your sister” Which seem’s to be a common selling technique here. After we took a few pictures, we headed back to the bikes, along with a green emerald Buddha necklace. It was pretty cheap anyway and the Vietnamese sellers are very persistent.
Back on the bikes, we rode of along for a while and once again we were kind of lost. We stopped by the side of the road, looking at the route on the phone, when a guy riding a motorcycle, approached us. He said don’t worry I will show you the way, follow me. I was very wary about this, as sadly I know, most people want to help you, but they want something in return.
We stopped after a few minutes and the guy was asking us what was going on. My friend told him that, we would find our own way there . He then tells us he can give us a boat basket tour, on the water coconut forest. Which Is what we were looking to do. So we told him how much we wanted to pay and he was telling us this higher price. We said we were not paying this and carried on riding. As we got closer to the place, a woman suddenly appeared, who seemed to be a friend of his. He got her to help negotiate the price with us and eventually agreed on the price we wanted.
All aboard the basket boats
The woman led us down to the entrance of the place, when we got there we could see several other tourists there for the same thing. We kept following her and ended up at her friends restaurant and said we could eat there and have beer. We declined, as we were just there for the boat ride. I’m not sure if she get’s commission for leading tourists there, but it seems like the thing in Asia. We told her to take us to the boats and we parked the bikes and headed to the boats. After eventually getting to the boats, I had the feeling these guys were not very professional, but we went with it. We had to pester them to give us hats, like all the other tours had on, which they initially promised us anyway.
Finally onto the boats, our captain (the guy who initially talked to us on his motorcycle) took us out into the coconut water forest, with hats and lifejackets secured. He stopped along side the trees, to show us the bunches of water coconuts, growing amongst the forest. I’ve never tasted the water coconut variety, only the coconut’s from the trees. So I’m not sure how these taste in comparison.
Going further down the river, we were soon surrounded by multiple other people, floating along in the baskets. Everyone else attired in hats and life Jackets. Where they were happily pointing the cameras at themselves, to show off their current trendy look. There was even a Korean party, who were accompanied by a loud speaker, blasting out gangnam style, as they went down the river. It was pretty amusing, to watch the Korean party, dancing away to this on their boats.
Our captain made his own entertainment for us. He showed off his Impressive origami skills, from the reeds, at the side of the river. He was not able to communicate, what he was making to well. So we came to our own conclusions, what they could be. The one in picture, we decided was a cricket. My friend also got an opportunity, to row the basket boat herself, giving our captain a short rest
As well as this guy, who was making his basket boat spin around, at some crazy speeds, to entertain the tourist groups.
We made our way back towards to boat dock, where more tourists were getting ready to head out themselves. We got off the boat and this is when we had to pay, since we didn’t before hand. Which I am always wary about, when this happens. As expected, the communication between, what the woman told us we would pay and what the captain wanted was different. I expect the women just told us, we could pay that price, just to get us on the boats. But my friend seemed very good with dealing with this situation. She wouldn’t back down and told them to find the woman, from before (who never appeared again) So after a while of trying to communicate this, they took what ever money, we wanted to pay and did not appear happy.
My advise would be, to either try and arrange a tour before hand, or ensure you pay up front for the tour, so no misunderstandings afterwards can happen.
The ride around the coconut forest is very interesting and of course very beautiful. Also the ride around countryside (which I wish, I had gotten some pictures of) was also very beautiful. I would highly recommend to either hire bikes out, or go on a cycling tour if you can. You get a much better experience, rather than going via bus or car. The roads around Hoi An are fairly quiet and it is pretty bicycle friendly. The ride from the town is roughly 4-5km, but it is an easy ride along flat rodes. My advise though, is to bike in the morning, before it starts getting to hot.
We both enjoyed the bicycle ride to the forest and the boat ride around the forest. It’s a nice activity to do whilst in Hoi An. You get to see another side of Hoi An, away from the old town area. If you have time, I highly recommend doing this. Your hostel/hotel should be able to give you details of how to get there, if making your own way. Or it is probably easy to get on one of the tours that run to here.