Hoi An is one of the 25 most favorite travel destinations in the world in 2017 according to Tripadvisor. It is a small town in central Vietnam, 140km south of Hue and 30km south of Da Nang Airport. With only 130 000 inhabitants, most of whom live on tourism; however, on the other hand, Hoi An hides a lot of charm.
There are definitely many hotels in the Hoi An Ancient Town but we recommend you to stay at a hotel located 1 or 2km from the old town where you can avoid noise and especially floods in November. As most hotels and guesthouses lend you a bike for free, the distance between your hotel and the old town will not be a problem. For example, the hotels a little out of the way:
• Siesta Hoi An
• Hoi An Rustic Homestay
Life in Hoi An is relatively peaceful, but there are many interesting activities to do, so you can spend a week without boredom.
- 1 Top 12 Things To Do In Hoi An Ancient Town
- 1.1 Discovery in Hoi An Ancient Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 1.2 Night walk in the old town
- 1.3 Buying custom-made clothes
- 1.4 Get custom-made shoes or leather bags
- 1.5 Enjoying culinary specialties
- 1.6 Having a drink at Reach out Vietnam
- 1.7 Visit the exhibition of photographer Réhahn
- 2 Activities outside the old town
- 2.1 Relaxing on the beautiful An Bang Beach
- 2.2 Dinner and live music at Soul Kitchen Beach Bar & Restaurant
- 2.3 Bike ride on Cam Kim Island
- 2.4 Crab fishing in the coconut forest on Cam Thanh Island
- 2.5 Farming activities in Tra Que Vegetable Village
- 2.6 Thanh Ha Terracotta Park at Thanh Ha Pottery Village
- 2.7 Visiting Cham Island in summer
- 2.8 Visiting My Son Sanctuary
Top 12 Things To Do In Hoi An Ancient Town
Discovery in Hoi An Ancient Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Hoi An Old Town is well preserved and is the only place in Vietnam where the culture is a mix of many different cultures: Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and European. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
The fusion of cultures in Hoi An can be found in its original architecture of houses, temples, bridges, communal houses; the lifestyle of the inhabitants and its varied gastronomy.
All the sightseeing sites in the old town are closed after 5pm. You will have to start your visit in the morning or around 14h.
Here are the emblematic sites:
- The Japanese Covered Bridge
- The Old House of Tan Ky: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc street. It is one of the most beautiful and oldest architectural structures in Hoi An.
- The common house of the Fujian Chinese congregation: at 46 Tran Phu street, 7 minutes walk from the ancient Tan Ky house.
Moreover, if you want, you can visit a museum, a chapel of families, the handicraft workshop at 9 Nguyen Thai Hoc street or participate in a show of traditional art.
You will have to pay 120 000 VND for the entrance ticket with the map of the old town. One can only choose to visit 5 out of 22 sites. The ticket is valid in 24 hours. The old town is small, you can visit it on foot.
Night walk in the old town
Illuminated by the light of thousands of lanterns, Hoi An is much more beautiful in the evening. Moreover, the light is reflected in the Hoai River that surrounds the city, turning Hoi An into a magical landscape. That’s why Hoi An is on the list of “world’s best nightlife destinations” – according to The Rough Guide.
A night stroll in the alleys, illuminated by thousands of lanterns is superb.
You can cross the bridge to visit the lively night market and take nice photos in front of lantern shops. Besides, you can also:
- Releasing the paper lanterns on the river which is is said to bring good fortune and love.
- Romantic dinner in a restaurant by the river.
Buying custom-made clothes
Hoi An is one of the best places in Asia to make tailor-made clothes at affordable prices. There are about 400 tailor-made clothing stores in Hoi An, the best of which are:
- Yaly couture – at 47 Trần Phú street and at 358 Nguyễn Duy Hiệu street: high-end, known for 20 years, high price
- At Dong silk – at 62 Trần Hưng Đạo Street, at 40 Lê Lợi Street: good quality, high price
- Bebe Tailor Hoi An – at 40 Tran Hung Dao Street: perfect for an evening dress, wedding dress, or a luxury suit, high-end, high price
- Tony The Tailor – at 294 Nguyen Duy Hieu Street – perfect for an affordable costume
- Lana tailor – 90 Le Loi: affordable and non-negotiable, good quality.
A tailor-made garment normally takes 24 hours but it takes more time to retouch, so if you’d better schedule 2-3 days in advance if you want to get custom-made clothes in Hoi An.
However, most shops can send your purchases to your hotel in Vietnam or even in your country, by boat with an additional fee.
Get custom-made shoes or leather bags
The Friendly Leather Bag store in Hoi An exports its bags and shoes to 170 countries around the world. Does this surprise you?
You can then buy a bag or leather shoes of excellent quality in the store. Moreover, if you like to have a pair of shoes or bags on your own design, you can ask them.
Price ranges from $60 for a pair of custom leather sandals and more for a bag.
- Friendly Leather Bag, at 44 Phan Boi Chau Street.
- Friendly Shoe Shop at 18 Trần Phú Street.
Enjoying culinary specialties
The cuisine of Hoi An is very varied and delicious. You can savor some typical dishes of Hoi An such as:
Cơm gà – Hoi An chicken rice
There are several restaurants to taste the Hoi An chicken rice but the most well-known restaurant is Cơm Gà Bà Buội at 22 Phan Châu Trinh Street.
Here are some other good places:
- 47/2 Trần Hưng Đạo Street
- Cô Hương at 56 Lê Lợi Street
- Bà Lâm at 51 Phan Chu Trinh Street.
Mì Quảng – Noodle with Pork and Shrimp of Quang Nam Province
You can find this dish in small sidewalk restaurants. Mi Quang is an iconic dish of Central Vietnamese cuisine. It is a rice noodle soup with shrimp, pork, eggs, chicken. You can eat “mì Quảng” and “cao lầu” in almost every restaurant in Hoi An and Hoi An Central Market as well.
Cao lầu is a culinary specialty of Hoi An that consists of noodles, pork, soy, aromatic herbs.
The best place to enjoy it is at “Cao lầu Thanh” at 26 Thái Phiên Street. This 25-year-old restaurant is simple but really good.
Bánh mì – the vietnamese sandwich
Bánh mì of Hoi An is really good and must be enjoyed. It is different from that of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
“Bánh mì Phượng” is the most famous and most popular bánh mì restaurant in Hoi An. Horeover, the price is a bit expensive which costs 30.000 VND per one, while in other stalls, it costs 8.000 – 20.000 VND. Here are other stalls that offer bánh mì in Hoi An:
- Ms. Khanh at 115 Trần Cao Vân
The best addresses for a cooking class in Hoi An
It is very easy to find a cooking class with reviews on tripadvisor. But if you want to save time, we advise you the course “My Grandma’s Home Cooking”. It’s very interesting to learn “dishes in the Hoi An families”. This cooking class costs $30 without visiting the local market and $37.5 including the market visit.
Moreover, the Red Bridge Cooking School is also a very good cooking school. A group class costs $33/person.
Having a drink at Reach out Vietnam
Address: 131 Trần Phú Street
Reach out Vietnam is an atypical teahouse, a place where sound is absent, in the heart of the busy Hoi An Old Town.
In 2000, Nguyen Binh Le, a person with reduced mobility, founded Reach Out, a fair trade association that supports handicapped artisans. The products are very well sold and he then created the Reach Out Tea Room, with the aim of honoring the art of tea and coffee.
All employees of Reaching Out are deaf and dumb. Here you will learn the art of silence.
It is a very nice place to enjoy a tea with dried coconut or coffee, biscuits …
Visit the exhibition of photographer Réhahn
The photos of Réhahn are very impressive.
Réhahn is a French expatriate photographer in Hoi An since 2011. His works have been published in international media such as the BBC, Travel Live, Elle, Paris Match, Geo, Forbes etc.
He likes to travel on a motorbike with his backpack, which gives him the opportunity to stop wherever he wants and to meet all the ethnic groups in Vietnam.
Once in Hoi An, you can not miss his photos at the museum of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities at 06 Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoi An.
Activities outside the old town
Relaxing on the beautiful An Bang Beach
An Bang is the most beautiful beach in Hoi An, which is just 5km from the old town. You can go by bike or motorbike taking the Hai Bà Trưng street through the rice fields.
There are several restaurants and bars on An Bang beach but the beach is relatively wild, especially compared to the beaches in Da Nang.
Besides An Bang beach, Cua Dai beach is another beach in Hoi An which is also 5km from the old town.
The best hotels on An Bang Beach are:
- Cashew Tree Bungalow
- Vina Beach Pool Villas
- Red Flower Cottages Homestay
These hotels are just 2-3 minutes walk from An Bang Beach. Their rooms are spacious and their prices are affordable.
It should be noted that during the winter, which lasts from November until March, the sea water in Hoi An is cold for swimming.
Dinner and live music at Soul Kitchen Beach Bar & Restaurant
It is a very nice place on An Bang beach. Here in the evening you can have dinner or a drink while listening to live music. The price of food and drinks is not expensive. The restaurant is frequented by expatriates. Live music goes from Thursday to Sunday evening.
Bike ride on Cam Kim Island
It’s intersting to take a bike ride in Hoi An. You can borrow bikes for free at most hotels in Hoi An. If not, renting for a day costs only about $ 1.
We strongly recommend a bike ride on Cam Kim Island as the countryside is peaceful and you can see many things there.
Cam Kim is an island 3km from the Hoi An Ancient Town. A few years ago, it was necessary to take a boat to the Bach Dang Pier, very close to the Hoi An Central Market to reach the island but a bridge was built in 2016.
If you are looking for an authentic place to observe the countryside and the daily life of the local people, you absolutely should go to Cam Kim Island where you willl have chance to:
- observe the construction of fishing boats.
- observe the manufacture of mats at a local family.
- meet a gentleman who has been making round bamboo boats for decades.
- cross coconut forests and pretty bamboo bridges.
- cross rice fields, vegetable fields.
- observe the daily life of the locals.
You can get bike tour at your hotel or at a travel agency in Hoi An. A tour costs $18- $25 per person, including lunch.
Crab fishing in the coconut forest on Cam Thanh Island
It is an activity that is quite interesting but very touristy.
Cam Thanh Island is 7km from Hoi An Old Town. A bike ride to Cam Thanh Island is enjoyable. You will cross rice fields, schools, cemeteries, local markets, etc. If you are traveling on your own, you can rent a basket boat: 2 people per boat to visit the Bay Mau coconut forest which is beautiful. You can also try crab fishing and paddling if you want to.
Some tour agents such as Hoi An Rural, offer this type of tours which also includes cooking class in a homestay kitchen and pleasant foot massage. The tour costs about $30 per person for half a day, with a tour guide.
Farming activities in Tra Que Vegetable Village
Tra Que Vegetable Village is located near the path from Hoi An Old Town to An Bang Beach.
You can cycle to this village or buy Tra Que herbs in all travel agencies in Hoi An. During the tours, you will do farming activities, learn how to make some simple dishes and have lunch in the village.
Thanh Ha Terracotta Park at Thanh Ha Pottery Village
The Thanh Ha Pottery Village is located on the Thu Bon River, 3km from Hoi An Old Town. A visit to Thanh Ha Terracotta Park is nice.
The park covers an area of 6000m2, and includes:
- a museum
- terracotta exhibitions
- a pottery workshop
- a pottery oven
- a garden with miniature reproductions of famous monuments in the word such as: Egyptian pyramids, French Arc de Triomphe, Indian Taj Mahal Temple, Sydney Opera House etc.
The ticket price is 30 000 VND/person.
You can learn how to make pottery in the village.
Visiting Cham Island in summer
Cham Island is just 20 minutes by speed boat from Cua Dai pier, Hoi An. If you like snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking, Cham Island is a good place.
The best time to visit the island is from May to September when it is sunny, the water is turquoise and transparent.
Cham island diving center is the best place for scuba diving.
Visiting My Son Sanctuary
Located 35km east of Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom that existed in the central area of Vietnam from the 2nd and 17th centuries.
These are the ruins of Hindu temples and temples of kings scattered in a valley of 540 acres (2 km2).
The My Son Sanctuary is not as big and impressive as the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, that of Borobudur in Indonesia or the temples in Bagan, Burma but a visit to the site is a good opportunity to discover the Champa culture, the amazing architecture of Hindu temples, as well as the history of Vietnam.
You can get there by:
- renting a motorcycle and use google maps to go to My Son.
- taking the bus of The Sinh Tourist which departs at 8am to Hoi An , the ticket costs 100 000 VND one way.
- renting a private car if your group is large.