Hoi An Tours: A Day Out on the Hoi An Eco Green Tour

Heather and Lyla in a Coconut Basket

Visiting Hoi An for a Travel Writing and Photography Retreat, I ran into an old friend that I met on a previous vacation to Alaska to photograph the Northern lights. Lyla was another attendee, and we both wanted to go on some Hoi An tours. She arranged for us to go on the Hoi An Eco Green Tour. The tour consists of riding a water buffalo, exploring the coconut forest in a basket boat, and enjoying a wonderful Vietnamese meal with locals. Here is everything you need to know about basket boat Hoi An tours.

Hoi An Eco Green Tour InformationPalm frond in front of water farm

You can schedule the Hoi An eco-tour through your hotel, or you can contact them online here. Tho, your tour guide will pick you up in a van at your hotel and drive your group to the first stop, which is meeting Luc, the water buffalo. You will need a minimum of two people to schedule this tour. The total duration of the trip is 3.5 hours.

Riding a Water BuffaloLuc the water buffalo on the Hoi An Eco Green Tour

Meet Luc! He is seven years old and is retired already. Luc used to work in the fields. Now he lives a life of leisure and occasionally takes visitors for a ride. Before everyone gets on my case for riding on an animal, I did ask if it hurts them. Riding water buffalo is different than riding elephants. Whether an animal is safe to ride has to do with the skeletal structure and the musculature of the animal, not just their size. They need to have sufficient muscle strength to support their spine under the downward pressure of the rider and still move ahead at a steady pace. People have been riding domesticated water buffalo in Asia for years.

Water buffaloes are particularly suitable for plowing the rice fields because they like water and are stronger than cattle or oxen. They are often referred to as “the living tractor of the East.” Plus, Asian farmers like water buffalos because their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of the dairy cow. And supposedly Buffalo Mozerella is the best Mozerella cheese out there. Heather next to Luc in Hoi An

Coconut Basket BoatHeather and Lyla in the coconut basket boat

The highlight of the tour is on the Thu Bồn River in a coconut basket boat. Each basket boat is made from 20 bamboo trees and last 3 to 4 years. Our guide showed us around the coconut woods, which is seven-hectares large. If you happen to look on youtube, you might see them twirling the basket boats around in a circle fast. Yep, he did that to us. We were spinning and laughing our heads off. We even had some fun with our guide, Manh. He jumped out a couple of times to show us how they fish and to step on the beach, and Lyla and I were stinkers. We rowed the basket away and told him to swim. Don’t worry; we eventually went back to get him.Floating in a Coconut basket in Hoi An

Fishing on Thu Bồn RiverFishing Net in Thu Bồn River

Watching our guide fish in Hoi An is fascinating. Instead of using rods and bait, they lower this huge net down into the river with a simple pully system. After a certain time, they raise the net up, and hopefully, you have caught a lot of fish in the net. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any fish while we were on our basket ride cruise through the coconut forest. Fishing net in the water in the Thu Bồn River

Finding Coconut Trees and OystersCoconut Tree in Hoi An

Coconut trees are unusual plants growing out of the water. We saw brown and orange looking things that looked like a flower from far away. We found out that it is a coconut and when they are ripe, you can eat them. Although the ones we found were old and past their expiration date.Bright orange coconut in the Coconut treesCoconuts from Coconut trees

While riding in our basket boat, we noticed something on the bottom of the bamboo shoots. Oysters attach themselves to the cut bamboo shoots right at the waterline. You can go and collect them for food, although the ones we saw were very tiny.Oysters growing on Coconut TreesOysters in Hoi An

Lunch with the LocalsSpring Rolls - Lunch on Hoi An Eco Green Tour

After a fabulous ride on the basket boats that started in the rain, but ended with laughter and sunshine. We were treated to a home-cooked meal by our basket boat guide’s family. His wife kept bringing out food, plate after plate. We started with spring rolls, then moved to rice crackers with a noodle dish. Next was the banana flower salad with shrimp and chicken). This is the first time I tasted this salad, and I love it! We even tried a Vietnamese Pancake called Banh xeo. Banana Flower Salad - Lunch on Hoi An Eco Green Tour

SummaryHeather laughing that Luc swat Lyla in the face with his tail

We had so much fun on this trip enjoying our basket boat ride with Manh singing ‘Heather and Lyla’ over and over again even though he couldn’t say ‘Heather.’ And getting smacked in the face by Luc’s tail is a bit shocking when it happens but you can’t help but laugh. Luc did that to me when I was trying to get on him and Lyla got it when we were all standing next to him.

Spending an afternoon on the Hoi An Eco Green Tour is a great way to experience local Vietnamese culture. You can have a spirited boat ride in a coconut basket, have a thrilling ride on a water buffalo, try many tasty Vietnamese dishes all while spending time with wonderful Vietnamese people. I enjoyed this tour and would go on it again when I return to Hoi An.

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Asia for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

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