Dollar-Friendly Destinations 2008
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The Place: Hoi An, Vietnam
It's a poor man's: Phuket
The financial analysis: Everything—from the street food to the hotels to the scooter rentals—is cheaper in Vietnam than in resortier Thai locales like Phuket or Koh Samui. It can be expensive to arrive, but once you do, you'll thrive.
Price of a beer: 60 cents for a Bia Hoi beer
What to do: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An is as quaint, historical, and charming as any tiny beachside town in Southeast Asia can be. But another treasure is the abundance of talented tailors, who will copy or create pretty much any garment you can think of. Just stop by on the way to the beach, and by dinnertime, an army of invisible sewing gnomes will have whipped the thing up. You can have couture knockoffs for a few hundred bucks at a place like ADong Silk.
Hotel: The Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa (from $135) has all the amenities that come with Asian beachside resorts—a pool, tennis courts, private balconies, a white sand beach, and a shuttle bus to central Hoi An—and some that don't, like the elephant that wanders around the property.
Cheap eats: Vietnam's best street food may be at Bale Well. It's an outdoor restaurant (OK, food stall) where you sit on flimsy plastic chairs and eat nem nuong—chicken, pork, or beef; fresh greens; and sprouts rolled in a thin sheet of rice paper. A filling dinner for two is about $5. The catch? You assemble the spring rolls yourself. But if you stare at the platter of ingredients long enough, the proprietor will take pity on you, pull up a chair, and do it for you, you big baby.
How to get there: No matter what, it will take at least three flights to get to Hoi An. Most major airlines fly to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. From there, fly Vietnam Airlines to Danang. Then it's a 30-minute drive to Hoi An.
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
Tel: 84 510 927 040
Tel: 84 510 864 443