14 Things To Do in Hoi An, Vietnam
1. Wander down the old streets of Hoi An
Spend hours, wandering slowly through the streets and admiring the French & Asian style houses, shutters, and colors. The architecture provides a real nostalgic feeling and has been perfectly maintained, as a result of its UNESCO status.
Stop off at charming coffee shops, some of which have terraces that provide views over the archaic roofs and the river.
During the night, lantern-lit streets give a charming and romantic feel.
2. Quan Cong Temple
The Quan Cong Pagoda Temple is decorated in bright gold and red, which is typical for Chinese temples. It stands out against the yellow buildings and is a perfect example of the cultural influences. Enjoy the calmness of the inner courtyard but keep an eye on the signs that mention things such as removing shoes when standing in front of the sacred statues.
3. Japanese Bridge
The iconic sight of Hoi An is the majestic Japanese Bridge, that sits over the river. This bridge, built in the late 16th century at the time of Japanese immigration, is one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam.
See the architectural details of the charming and well-preserved bridge by day or see it beautifully lit up by night.
In order to cross the ancient bridge, you will need to have the Hoi An old town ticket. Read about it here.
4. Day trip to Da Nang
Da Nang is a large and developed city located 30 minutes from Hoi An. It has great food hot spots, interesting architecture like the Dragon Bridge, and arguably some of the best beaches of Vietnam. Additionally, visit the Lady Buddha and Marble Mountains.
5. Hoi An Market
Engage in the hectic local life and visit the Hoi An Market (Chợ Hội An). You can find products like fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, spices, baskets, and meat and fish. Experiencing the intense crowds, and beeping motorbikes, during the morning is a thing you must do in Hoi An.
Additionally, visit one of the many tailor shops at the nearby located Hoi An Tailor market and have a high-quality suit, or dress, custom made for a very reasonable price if you’re comfortable with bargaining.
6. Hoi An Night Market
Find hundreds of glowing lanterns strung up along the Hoi An Night Market, where you can find vendors selling clothing and so much more. Different than the daytime market, the Night Market is focused on tourists and located on the other side of the bridge.
It is possibly Vietnam‘s most popular market and, therefore, it tends to get busy after sundown. The Hoi An night market opens at 5 PM until 10 PM.
7. Reaching Out Tea house
Run by men and women who suffer from hearing and speech impairments, this charming tea house is a must-do in Hoi An. It is an incredibly peaceful environment, as silence is respected and orders and communication are all done through the use of speech cubes and body language. Not only the tea, coffee, and biscuits fantastic, but it is a wonderful way to use tourism for good.
8. Hoi An Free Bike Tour
Vietnamese students organize free biking tours in order to practice their English. Get to know Hoi An as the locals do, by cycling along with the rice fields, preparing traditional foods, and visiting the outer parts of Hoi An, which you might not usually see.
9. Ba Mu Temple Gates (Tam Quan)
Only recently has this stunning three gated Pagoda opened its doors to the public. The old temple and beautifully colored complex build in 1626, features a round open circle, flanked by two large doors. This is a prime example of the typical style of Vietnamese architecture.
10. Banh Mi – Taste the best ones in Hoi An!
The French colonial influences have left their mark in Vietnam, through the introduction of the baguette. The Banh Mi sandwich filled with meats, coriander, cucumber, pathé or cheese, chili, and mayonnaise is now a traditional Vietnamese dish.
Hoi An has been dubbed the Banh Mi Capital of Vietnam, so there couldn’t be a better place to try this incredible Vietnamese take on a sandwich. We warn you, these are highly addictive!
11. Hoi An Cooking Classes
Vietnamese cuisine is arguably one of the best in the world, and within Vietnam, Hoi An takes precedent for its explosive flavors. Due to this, cooking classes are extremely popular and there are plenty of options to choose from. Cooking classes usually take 3 to 5 hours.
Thanh Dong organic farm teaches you how they grow organic vegetables and herbs on their farm and how to cook traditional Vietnamese meals. Cycle amongst the rice fields and paddle in a tiny basket boat.
Another option is the Thuan Tinh Island – Cooking Tour, where you get taken to the market to buy the cooking class ingredients. A beautiful boat trip brings you to the cooking class location.
12. Boat Along the river
Take a lazy river ride in one of the traditional Vietnamese basket boats! Thung Chai is the name of this round basket style boat, which is made from bamboo. Try navigating for yourself and you’ll see it’s almost impossible to not spin round in circles, due to the shape of the boat.
There are lots of options to learn this and enjoy an entire morning or afternoon learning about this ancient craft. A must-do experience whilst in Hoi An!
13. An Bang Beach
Although the old town is the main thing to do in Hoi An, another great attraction is its coastline. An Bang Beach is a 4km stretch of sand, lined with deckchairs, and relaxed beach bars. Kick back here with a drink and enjoy the beautiful outlook onto the ocean.
14. Precious Art Gallery
Visit the great gallery of photographer Rehahn, who displays the culture and importance of the ethnic tribes of Vietnam. The series of photos were taken over a period of 8 years, documenting 51 out of the 54 remaining tribes left in Vietnam. New photographs have been added too. Also available to see are some traditional ethnic costumes, all of which provide a real insight into the history of one of the most important cultural aspects of Vietnam.
Getting to & around Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is located centrally in Vietnam, and although it does not have an airport, it is easily connected. The nearest airport is Da Nang, which is only a 45-minute drive away. There is a public bus which runs regularly and only costs 1 USD or there is the option to take a taxi. There are daily flights from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to Danang and more international flights are starting to become available.
Although flying is the quickest option, there are also multiple good sleeper buses running from locations throughout Vietnam or an overnight train which runs from Hanoi to Danang.
Walking or biking is the mode of transport inside Hoi An old town. Pedestrianized streets make it a perfect place for a wander. Hire bikes to cycle to the beach or amongst the rice paddies. Hotels and guesthouses in Hoi An sometimes offer bicycles, so it’s smart to look for a hotel that does this.
Hoi An Old Town Ticket
In order to preserve Hoi An old town, a ticket is required to enter some buildings. Purchase your ticket at one of the counters that surround the outskirts of the city center. The ticket is 120.000 VND (5 USD) and is not needed to walk around in Hoi An.
Restaurants in Hoi An
Hoi An is a place for food lovers with well-established local and international cuisines. These are our favorites:
- Nú eatery (Fusion Vietnamese)
- Nourish eatery (International, Vegan)
- Streets Restaurant (International)
- Vegetarian Ban Mi (Vietnamese)
- Avo’s and Mango (International)
- Quán Cao lầu Bá Lễ (Vietnamese)
- Nhan’s Kitchen (Vietnamese)
- The Espresso Station (Best coffee)
Where to stay in Hoi An
Depending on what kind of trip you are wanting, you can stay either by the beach or situate yourself more centrally by the old town. It’s best to stay just outside of the old town, as the accommodation will be cheaper and both the beach and the old town will still be easy to reach.
Best time to visit Hoi An
The climate in Hoi An is warm year-round but is particularly dry from February to July. Make sure to avoid Vietnamese public holidays, especially TET, which is the biggest holiday of the year and causes shops and restaurants to close.
Recommendation: The monthly, and extremely popular, Hoi An Lantern Festival is beautiful but causes an insane amount of rubbish in its rivers. We recommend not attending.