Considered the most charming and romantic town in Vietnam, Hoi An is one of the most visited places and a must for travelers. Don’t be scared by the amount of tourists in the town centre, there’s much to do also around Hoi An, don’t just stick to the main road!
Hoi An is easy to reach and well serviced, especially via Da Nang city just 25 km north. You can fly to Da Nang or get there by train from Hanoi/Hue, and then continue to Hoi An by bus or taxi. Coming from south, there are also direct buses, if you are up for a long long journey. We always suggest train traveling!
HERE’S WHAT TO DO&SEE IN HOI AN
Hoi An town lies 4 km from the seaside. The ideal day is spent at the beach until 4-5 pm, and back in town for dinner; however, despite hitting Hoi An in the morning may not be as charming as it is by night, it’ll be way more relaxing to have a stroll around without bumping into the crowds.
1. GET LOST IN THE CHARMING ALLEYS OF THE OLD TOWN
As said Hoi An is a very romantic town, once there you’ll know why! Especially at night when the lanterns switch on, it feels like being in a fairy-tale.
Be careful, some people might tell you have to pay an entrance ticket, but you DON’T have to! Since it’s a public town, you can walk anywhere for free of course; on the contrary you need to buy a ticket in order to visit the interior of some historical houses.
Tip: you’ll find many handicraft shops selling expensive souvenirs. Before buying anything, visit the local market: there you’ll be able to find most of the products at a much cheaper price!
Extra Tip: if they ask you to show tickets in front of the famous Japanese Bridge, tell them you are just walking through and not entering the small house halfway, or otherwise cross the small wooden bridge in front of it and reach the Japanese Bridge from behind!
2. JOIN A CYCLE TOUR AMONG THE RICE FIELDS
Exploring the lush green surroundings of Hoi An is one of the activities you can’t miss out! You’ll find a wide offer of tours. A great option are free bicycle tours guided by Vietnamese students who want to practice their English. You’ll ride among the rice fields, learn about Vietnamese rural life and cuisine, having an unforgettable experience!
3. GET TAILOR-MADE CLOTHES
Hoi An is a famous destination for handmade tailored clothes and shoes. Why? Because it’s crazy cheap and great quality!
After choosing the shop with the most suitable style and agreeing for a price, you’ll be able to decide your preferred design and fabric. In one day, sometimes even less, you’ll have your brand new tailor-made clothes! For a fee you can even have them sent back home to your country, same goes for big items as paintings or handicraft.
4. RELAX AT AN BANG BEACH
Head to An Bang for some chill out time at one of the many restaurants and cafes on the beach. You’ll have free beach chairs if you order food.
Keep calm when you approach the beach: as all the most touristy sights, scams are around the corner! Many local people will wave you to stop and park where they say, sometimes asking absurd prices for Vietnamese standards. Try to negotiate for 5,000-10,000 Dong max, never accept to pay more!
5. TAKE A COOKING CLASS
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most appreciated in Southeast Asia. How cool is it to come back home mastering the noble art of cooking Spring Rolls and Ban Xeo?!
Hoi An is the perfect place to attend a cooking class and learn how to prepare an entire Vietnamese meal, including choosing the ingredients at the local market. Besides, Hoi An is home to unique dishes in Vietnam as Cao Lầu Noodles and White Rose Dumplings.
Once there, you’ll find many restaurants offering this service, but to have an idea you can check out Cookly and book your cooking class in Hoi An!
6. EXPLORE MY SON CHAM TEMPLE COMPLEX
Dating back from the 4th to the 13th centuries, My Son Sanctuary was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom. Today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and its towers remind of the Cambodian Angkor ones, only in a much quieter area. Trust us, you will love it!
7. LIGHT UP A LANTERN DURING FULL MOON CELEBRATIONS
Every 14th day of each lunar month, Full Moon Lantern Festival is celebrated in Hoi An. In the old town the lighting is kept to a minimum level, and thousands of colorful candlelit lanterns will guide you around. For only 10,000 dong you can buy your own small paper lantern and release it into the river: one of the most magical shows ever!
8. SNORKEL IN CHAM ISLANDS
Not everybody knows there’s a cluster of eight islands known as Cham Islands, or Cu Lao Cham, just off Hoi An coast. By private or public boat, you can reach the main island in about 40 minutes: white sands and crystal clear waters will be waiting for you. Private tours usually include pick you up at your hotel, private speed boat, snorkeling and lunch.
9. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO DA NANG
Only 30 min away from Hoi An, Da Nang is a much bigger city with more services and less tourists. You’ll probably arrive in Da Nang Airport or train station on your way to Hoi An. In Da Nang you can find your tranquil spot on My Khe Beach, go and see monkeys at Son Tra Peninsula, and see the Dragon Bridge Fire Show! Read our post “Top 10 must see places in Da Nang” here.
Tip: half way between Hoi An and Da Nang you can stop at the Marble Mountains, whose caves will leave you breathless!
WHERE TO STAY IN HOI AN:
- Great value for money at Jade Hotel Hoi An: a nice 3-star hotel room with swimming pool in a lovely garden, all from 20$!
- Vietnam Backpacker Hostels Hoi An: a hostel with a big swimming pool? Hell yeah!
- Hoi An Emerald Waters Hotel & Spa: check out this hotel for a luxury dream stay in Hoi An, at walking distance from the town centre!
- Need more hotel inspiration? You can pre-book all your stays in Hoi An and in Vietnam with free cancellation here.
WHERE TO EAT IN HOI AN:
- Old Garden Restaurant (Vườn Xưa), 33 Phan Châu Trinh: a sweet alley small restaurant, bamboo-themed. Great Wonton and White Rose.
- Hồ Lô quán, 20 Trần Cao Vân: typical family run place, super kind staff. Excellent Hoi An delicacies, try Cao Lau and Wonton.
- Bánh Mì Phượng, 2B Phan Châu Trinh: known as the best Banh Mi Sandwich seller in Vietnam. Better sit inside rather than standing in the long take-away queue!
HOW TO REACH HOI AN:
- Sleeper train from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang+bus transfer: a 15+hour long journey, but very interesting and good fun, info and prices here;
- Hue-DaNang train+bus transfer, the most famous train route in Vietnam;
- Pre-book your bus ticket from major cities here;
- Flights to Da Nang from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and from all Southeast Asia.
- Book your tickets to travel in Vietnam on amt.12go.asia
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.