If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you absolutely must add the charming city of Hoi An to your list of must-visit destinations. One of the most unique experiences you can have in this city is taking a basket boat ride in Hoi An, locally known as “Thúng chài”. In this article, we will delve into everything you need to know about the basket boat in Hoi An, including its fascinating history, construction, and how to best enjoy the boat ride.
I. The History and Cultural Significance of Basket Boat in Hoi An
1. Introduction to Hoi An basket boat
Basket boat in Hoi An, also known as coracles, are crafted from bamboo and palm leaves using a meticulous process that is truly an art form. It can take several days of skilled labour to construct just one of these circular vessels.
The secret to their buoyancy lies in the application of a special mixture of resin and tar, which not only waterproofs the boat but also shields it from the harsh elements of the water.
2. Historical and Cultural Importance of Hoi An Basket Boat
The history of the basket boat in Hoi An dates back over 2,000 years to the Cham people who settled in the area. Originally designed for fishing in shallow waters, the circular shape of these boats allowed fishermen to easily move around and collect fish from their nets.
Interestingly, some people said that the Hoi An basket boat was first introduced in Vietnam during the French colonial period as a way to avoid excessive boat ownership taxes. The French believed that a basket boat was not a boat but a basket, and therefore did not tax the owner of the basket boat.
Nowadays, basket boats have become an integral part of Vietnamese fishing culture and are still used by local fishermen in Hoi An.
However, they have also become increasingly popular among tourists as a means to explore the area. While it may feel unstable at first, do not be deterred from trying out a basket boat in Hoi An. It is a unique and exciting way to experience the beauty of Hoi An and its surrounding waters.
II. Riding a Basket Boat in Hoi An
1. Best Places and Times for Basket Boat Rides in Hoi An
The best place for you to experience riding a basket boat in Hoi An is the Bay Mau coconut forest. Located in Cam Thanh village, just 7 km from the town centre, this forest is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of Vietnam. The name “Bay Mau” comes from the fact that this coconut forest was originally only seven acres in size.
To make the most of your basket boat rides in Hoi An, it’s best to visit during the dry season, which runs from February to July. However, if you’re planning a trip to Hoi An during the festival season, you can still enjoy this unique experience by planning ahead and combining it with other exciting activities.
To find out more about the best time to visit Hoi An and plan your perfect trip, be sure to check out our guide.
2. Price of Basket Boat Tour in Hoi An
To enter the Coconut Boat Village, visitors are required to pay a fee of 30,000 VND (equivalent to 1.30 USD). The charge is mandatory for the purpose of preserving the Cam Thanh Nipa Palm Site. Prices for riding a basket boat in Hoi An vary greatly, ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 VND (equivalent to 5 – 9 USD) per person. A few operators may deduct the entry fee from the boat ride price.
3. Experiencing Riding a Basket Boat in Hoi An
The boats have a diameter of approximately two meters, providing ample space for your belongings, footwear, camera, and other essentials. However, most boat operators only allow a maximum of two adult passengers on board, although they may make exceptions for a toddler or two.
- Feeling the Float: Riding on an All-Natural Vessel
Experience the beauty of a local guide leading you through an eight-hectare network of water coconut palms on a sturdy, all-natural vessel. You can rest assured that the boat won’t leak, capsize, or leave you swimming for shore. Despite the use of a small, single paddle, the boats move surprisingly fast through the calm waters.
When riding a basket boat in Hoi An, as you float down the coconut forest, you’ll be enveloped in a romantic and peaceful atmosphere. Let the tranquillity of the surroundings wash over you as you take in the stunning scenery. With a knowledgeable guide at the helm, you’ll learn about the history and ecology of the area, making this an educational and enriching experience. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore the beauty of nature in a safe and comfortable way.
- Exploring Vietnam’s Water Coconut Ecosystem
As you embark on a serene journey down the river by riding a basket boat in Hoi An, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking views of this city and its picturesque countryside. After boarding at the river bank, you’ll meander through a natural maze of canals and coconut palms. Along the way, you’ll encounter the unique nipa palm tree, the only member of the palm family that has successfully adapted to mangrove ecosystems.
As you weave through the lush coconut groves, you’ll hear the harmonious chirping of birds perched on the branches and the gentle sound of the paddle dipping into the water. Beneath the surface, you’ll catch glimpses of fish, crabs, and snails leisurely moving about.
The water is calm and tranquil, and your “captain” will make stops along the way to showcase some entertaining tricks with a basket boat. This is an experience that will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and in awe of the natural beauty that surrounds you.
- Experiencing the Basket Boat Dance
Participating in the Basket Boat Dance is an absolute must for visitors exploring Bai Mau forest and Hoi An as a whole. This exhilarating game is packed with surprises and endless fun for all participants.
The skilled boat drivers expertly navigate their vessels, shaking and twirling them with precision to deliver a truly immersive performance that will leave audiences in awe.
As the rowers join hands, they create waves of excitement that propel the basket boat to spin faster and faster, providing a thrilling experience for all who witness it. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable adventure!
- Duration of Basket Boat Rides
When embarking on a journey by basket boat in Hoi An, one can expect the journey to last approximately 45-60 minutes. However, the experience doesn’t end there. Visitors are often captivated by the stunning scenery and are compelled to explore the seven-acre forest, where they can engage in a variety of activities such as fishing, crabbing, and even learning the art of folding coconut leaves. It’s no wonder that many choose to linger and soak up all that this enchanting destination has to offer.
4. Safety Tips for Basket Boat Rides in Hoi An
Upon first glance, a basket boat may seem unstable, but appearances can be deceiving. The unique spherical shape of these boats actually distributes weight evenly, providing a stable and safe ride. However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience when booking a riding basket boat in Hoi An, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- While life jackets are mandatory, they may not always be strictly enforced. However, it is highly recommended that you wear one for your own safety.
- Comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting wet in is a must for this adventure. Additionally, don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and a hat. The weather in Hoi An can be quite sunny, so it’s important to take precautions.
- Lastly, it’s a good idea to bring a waterproof bag to keep your belongings dry.
III. Other Activities to Enjoy in Hoi An’s Coconut Forest
In addition to the iconic basket boat in Hoi An, the skilled fishermen of Bay Mau have another trick up their sleeves. You’ll have the opportunity to experience the art of trawling with a special fishing net. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch anything, as this technique takes a lifetime to master. Alternatively, you can try your hand at catching crabs or snails along the riverside.
But the excitement doesn’t end there. Your guide will also showcase their quick and creative hands by transforming palm stem strips into stunning leaf origami creations. It’s a true testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people of Bay Mau.
Although riding a basket boat in Hoi An is a popular activity, there are a plethora of other exciting experiences to be had in this vibrant city. In addition to exploring the town’s rich history, visitors can also indulge in a cooking class, peruse the local markets, or sample the delectable local cuisine. For more ideas on how to make the most of your time in Hoi An, check out our list of the top things to do in the area.
A basket boat ride in Hoi An is an exceptional and unforgettable experience that provides a glimpse into the traditional way of life of Vietnamese fishermen. These boats, crafted using natural materials and a centuries-old technique, are a symbol of Vietnamese culture and a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people who built them. If you’re planning a trip to Hoi An, make sure to add a basket boat ride to your itinerary for an adventure that you will cherish forever.