Hoi An Basket Boat Ride

Nowhere else outside of Hoi An Coconut Village, travelers can find a basket boat ride across the immense palm forests. It’s an experience that allows the passengers to know better about the life of local fishermans, explore the communist base in the Vietnam War and unique ecosystems after boarding. It’s fun, stunning and gives adventuring vibes. Someone says they do a round boat ride in the Mekong Delta (South Vietnam) and think shouldn’t try again. But travel experts indicate that each has its own special features and highlights. The Hoi An’s stands out because it includes different “hands-on” activities in which travelers do what locals do daily.

This article focuses on the basket boat ride in Hoi An Coconut Village and things around it such as relations to local culture, history, tours, etc. Tips, advice and recommendations are also provided, aiming for both self-guided and guided travelers. We suggest reading our travel guide to Cam Thanh Water Coconut Village, the surroundings of where the ride departs. Things to see and do here are perfectly fitted to an escape from hustle and bustle, especially for traveling with family. It’s a favourite place of nature lovers, ecotourism visitors, cyclists and responsible visitors.

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Contents

What is the Basket Boat (Round Boat)?

Basket Boat and its Uses

Basket boat (round boat or coracle) is a Central Vietnamese signature watercraft, an own invention of fishermans. It features a circle shape, waterproofed and made of interwoven bamboo. Local people propel it by a paddle while sitting inside or on bamboo seating. The size of the boat is tailored to the conditions of the area. In Hoi An, its owners use it to access small, shallow and interlaced waterways that were hard or inaccessible for common boats. They aim to catch fish, shrimp, crab, etc and cut and collect the palm leaf to buy (for house roofing). On the beach, it’s also helpful to assist fishers to move across the shallow sea, to approach the big boats. In recent decades, locals have encouraged tourists to visit their hometown’s palm forests.

Another distinction of Central Vietnamese fisherman culture is worship of the whale (Ca ong). Its origin is still unclear, and in 19th century, a king requested to venerate the god because the mammal once saved him. 

History of Basket Boat

When the basket boat was invented is still not answered yet. The most popular story to explain its origin indicates that people made and used it for the first time in 19th century. At that time, French colonists taxed everything, including boats. So, fishermans created a smaller one to reduce or not pay the charge. They designed a round-shaped craft to be flexible but continue being helpful.

Basket Boat Handicraft Tradition

Hoi An Coconut Village’s inhabitants still continue their tradition in making basket boats. Like anywhere in the country, this is handed down from father to son. The main material, bamboo, is collected and selected in the spring when the quality reaches the best. Only mature culms with a thick wall and without much branch stubs are chosen for the next step. A complete boat requires about 25 culms. Nowadays, bamboo is imported from other villages.  

Each culm will be saw into smaller strips with the width depending on size of the boat. Strips are interwoven at right angles to make the outer. Meanwhile, other artisans form the mouth with 3 to 5 bamboos, and some manual tools. This step is seen as being hardest, therefore only experienced people with good eyes are in charge of. After the frame is completed, cow shit and cajeput oil are brushed on the outer wall to make it waterproofed. Then, the boat is in the sun for 3 to 4 days before being sold. The buyers will pay some millions dongs to bring home one.

 

 

About Bay Mau Coconut Forest

The Forest and Relations to Local Life

Bay Mau Coconut Forest (or Bay Mau Nipa Palm Forest, Bay Mau Revolutionary Base) is a well-protected, nearly pristine nipa palm reserve in the centre and the east of Hoi An Coconut Village. It’s 6 km from the Old town and easy to get from every corner of the city. Spreading over a vast area at the confluence of 4 rivers, its name means “7 hectares”. Since 19th century, this has been playing an important role in the life of local inhabitants. It provides an abundance of fish, fronds, fruits and other resources that never run out. Not only catching fish to earn for living, fishers also collect fronds to build thatch roofs for houses and restaurants. The fresh fruits can be sold as a food. All accesses are made by the basket boat here. During the two decades of the Vietnam war, the forest was the hiding place of Vietcong communists. Nickname of Bay Mau Coconut Forest is the Little Mekong Delta.

Bay Mau Coconut Forest’s opening hours are from 7 a.m to 5 p.m daily.

Bay Mau Coconut Forest Entrance Fee

Bay Mau Coconut Forest entrance fee is 30,000 VND. It covers entry to two hamlets Van Lang and Thanh Tam, aiming to raise funds for management and conservation activities. The ticket kiosks are placed before the tour organizers and harbours. Local drivers all know their location to drop off the travelers, to pay the charge. Then, only a short walk is needed to see the first tour sellers and start the ride. Before 7 a.m or later than 5 p.m, the entrance ticket is not required.

History of Bay Mau Coconut Forest

When Hoi An was a trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries, many Southern Vietnamese families moved to the land to live. They brought the first nipa palm seeds from their hometown and nowadays, first palms grew into a massive forest. Its total area is up to 55 hectares.

During the French and American wars, the communists hid in Bay Mau Coconut Forest because of its hard accessibility from the outside. Basket boat is the only possible vehicle to come in and move around. In 1948, French colonists with tanks attacked this hiding place but soon ran away against grenades of local guerrillas. To search faster, they cut down the palms. However, this idea quickly became successful before miraculous recovery of the forest. Being supporters of the communists, local inhabitants built many trenches and traps around the village, to fend off French raids.

After the 1954 Geneva Conference, “find and kill communists” policy began by the controllers of the land, South Vietnamese regime. Once again, the wanted people hid in the palm forest. In June 1966, leaders of the American army sent 1,000 soldiers, 28 helicopters, canoes and weapons to here. They aimed to dominate it in a short time. However, they failed to achieve the goal after 3 days. 4 months later, another plan was made, to isolate the villagers who helped the communists a lot in previous battles. A concentration camp was established to serve their new life. As a result, people in hiding faced the hardest time ever because food and medicine supplies, and communication to the outside were cut. Thanks to Mother nature, finally all difficulties were overcome.

In 1967, the first large attacks of communists on nearby American military bastions were carried out. Six years later, 1973, American troops had to return home after the Paris Peace Accords. On 28th March 1975, the Vietcong left the palms and defeated the Saigon-led army in Hoi An.

Visitor Regulations

As a nature reserve, some regulations are made to keep visitors’s safety and maintain the intactness of natural habitats. Firstly, wearing the life vest is a must throughout the basket boat ride and if don’t, the experience is impossible to begin. In the palm forest, travelers can try to catch small crabs and fishes by traditional methods, but have to return them back to nature if caught. Locals also may make folding accessories from palm leaves. Being a responsible traveler, should refuse to pick new leaves. Last but not least, throwing trash like bottles of water into the river is prohibited.

Hoi An Basket Boat Ride in Bay Mau Coconut Forest

Hoi An Basket Boat Ride Experience

Not just a journey to sightsee the palms, Hoi An basket boat ride is an exploration with many interesting experiences. Its first special thing is the boat, seen only in the Central coast region. Keeping balance and propelling it are not easy, and so some skills are required. At the harbour, travelers meet the challenge in standing balance within a swaying boat. After safely sitting, local people will take them further inside the Bay Mau Coconut Forest, a well-protected natural environment. It has grown healthy over 200 years. Being home of communists during the latest war, now this rich wilderness is a part of Unesco world biosphere reserve.

Not just to cruise on calm waterways lined by lush palm groves, the local captain also shows his/her daily works. With a simple rod and insect bait, how to catch cong (fiddler crab) which runs around on the mud and hides in small holes. Then, he/she performs skills in making accessories by folding palm leaf, such as crown, ring, watch, etc. These eco origami are beautiful memories in the childhood of every villager. Due to conservation reasons, a limited number of leaves are allowed to pick up.

“Basket boat dance” is the next interest. In which, skilled men shake and spin his vessel during minutes, to bring the audience fun and wow performances. On another corner, passengers can see how to catch fish by a net and be instructed to do the same. Before landing, a competition in paddling boats may be made.

Hoi An Basket Boat Ride Price

Price of a Hoi An basket boat ride in the Coconut village is diverse, averaging from 150,000 to 350,000 per person. Because only two adult passengers are allowed in one boat, the cost may be from 250,000 to 450,000 VND. During the high seasons, a solo traveler may have to pay a price between this range, but in quieter times, it’s from 150,000 VND. There is no charge for kids going with their parents. Should check in different places between choosing the best offer.

Note: Ask about the entrance fee to the village when booking. If not make sense, a traveler may pay 30,000 VND extra. Tipping is really up to how much he/she enjoys and satisfies the services.  

Options of Hoi An Basket Boat Ride

In the Coconut village, local organizers provide several basket boat combos that combine the palm forest ride with other activities. One of them is learning how to cook Vietnamese foods by traditional recipes. Under the instructions of an English-speaking local chef, travelers directly prepare crispy pancakes, spring rolls or salad with Tra Que village’s herbs. Later, these dishes become a part of the lunch meal. Complementary ones cooked by the host family are also served, just to ensure the learners get full. Some tour selections recommend a local massage or cycling adventure in the nearby countryside.

Note: Many Hoi An Coconut Village-based operators provide all-inclusive packages, with a round trip transfer from hotel. A cruise on Thu Bon River is an inclusion in some of which.

Hoi An Basket Boat Time

A full ride around the palm forest is from 40 to 60 minutes. About the best times for boarding are the early and late hours of the day in the dry season, from February to August. Not only to avoid high temperatures, but also tourist crowds and noise. Clear sky and without rain are ideal to cruise the rivers and photograph. In the other months, it rains frequently, making the degrees decrease. So, travelers can enjoy a cooler atmosphere while on board. From October to December, tropical typhoons occur and cause floods in the Coconut village. On flooding days, the canals are cloudy, with floating trash, and the palms are tilted by strong winds. Definitely, this is an unsuitable time to visit, not to mention the closing of all outdoor activities to keep visitors safe.

Where to Book Hoi An Basket Boat Ride?

Basket boat rides in Hoi An Coconut Village can be booked online and offline. Both village-based (local) or other organizers can arrange a ride with full experiences. If don’t have much time to research, travelers can go straight to the village and select a tour in one of many provided near the harbours. It’s easy to see their names and public prices. Because of being closest to the palm forest, two hamlets Van Lang and Thanh Tam have the largest concentration of basket boat ride organizers. Information about each is outlined as following below:

  • Van Lang hamlet (blue area in the map): ticket counters, providers and piers are along the cement road from Vo Chi Cong Rd to the Little River Café. Private and small group tours are often recommended to come here because it’s quieter.
  • Thanh Tam hamlet (yellow area in the map): ticket counters near Tran Nhan Tong-Vo Chi Cong crossroad and providers line Tran Nhan Tong Rd until the end. Group tours often choose this hamlet because its main road is accessible for big buses. There are more restaurants and shops followed by. So, the atmosphere here is busier.

Basket boat ride experience is not too different between local organizers, including the selling price. Just make sure that a full tour is made. If touring with a guide, he/she will assist to interact with locals better.

 

Self-Guided Hoi An Basket Boat Tours

Pros and Cons

If just aiming to get a basket boat ride, a self-guided trip is proper. Travelers only need to go to Van Lang or Thanh Tam hamlets, pay an entrance ticket and then find a tour in an organizer nearby. There are lots of people invited to book the ride when moving along the main roads. The last tip is comparing the selling price between some places to avoid picking an overpriced one. Everything is easy. However, because of language barriers and lack of information, self-guided travelers may not fully understand the place they visit. 

Itinerary Recommendations

Distance between the city center, the Coconut village and other attractions is not too far, so travelers can choose to travel by a taxi, bicycle or motorcycle. These are some full-day itineraries we recommend (without the Old town):

  • Duy Hai fish market – Basket boat – Cooking class – Lunch – Marble Mountains hiking (caves, Buddhist temples, local stone carving tradition)
  • Basket boat – Cooking class – Lunch – Vinpearl Amusement Park Nam Hoi An
  • Barket boat – Tra Que vegetable village (visit, farmer experience, cooking class, massage) – Lunch – An Bang beach (swim, sunbathe, water sports, seafood, live music bar)

Hoi An Basket Boat Tours

Pros and Cons

If planning to do more than a basket boat ride and liking to know deeper local history and culture, a guided tour is more suitable than a DIY one. A guide is the first thing to make it necessary. Thanks to his/her knowledge and English skills, travelers will learn a lot. Lots of tour packages include a cycling journey, historical places, households producing handicrafts, and more. When having a guide, he/she will show the best back roads to cycle, hidden gems, what happened in the past at each stop, etc. All allow travelers to get insight into long-standing traditions. However, a personal research is required and the price of the tour often is more expensive.

Featured Tours

Hoi An basket boat tours are many to choose from, on the basis of both half-day and full-day. If just have a morning or afternoon, travelers can do a ride and other activities on the ground (in the same village). It’s feasible to sightsee one of the most famous attractions in the area in a day trip, as a combination. Da Nang and Hoi An departures are all available. These are featured tours you may be interested:

  • Half-day Coconut Village Experience
  • Full-day Coconut Village Experience and Hoi An Ancient Town Tour
  • Full-day Coconut Village Experience and My Son Sanctuary Tour
  • Full-day Coconut Village Experience and Marble Mountains Tour
  • Full-day Coconut Village Experience and Bests of Da Nang Tour

Extra – Hoi An Coconut Village Guide

Basket boat ride is just an experience in Hoi An Coconut Village, a peaceful piece of countryside focusing on ecotourism. Travelers love to tour around it by bicycle to see lovely, undisturbed rural sceneries, farmers and fishers at work, and incredible sunrise and sunset. There are many restaurants and accommodations dotting it too, some of which are in the Hoi An’s top lists. Read details in our comprehensive guide about this land of serenity in centralvietnamguide.com/hoi-an-coconut-village.

 

Hoi An Coconut Village Map

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