Hoi An is synonymous with yellow buildings full of character, coloured lanterns lighting up the streets, and amongst the best food and shopping in the country.
This quaint town is located on the central coast of Vietnam, and the town itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hoi An is filled with amazing things to see and unforgettable things to do. Read on to find out the top things to do in Hoi An.
How to Get to Hoi An
The vast majority of travellers start their trip in Vietnam in either Hanoi in the north of Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh City, in the south of Vietnam.
For those who are travelling the country by plane, Da Nang International Airport is the closest airport to Hoi An. The most convenient ways to get from Da Nang Airport to Hoi An are by either a private taxi or a shared shuttle bus.
A private taxi should cost you less than 500,000 VND. Take Vina Sun or Mai Linh, the trusted taxi companies in Vietnam. A shuttle bus will cost around 120,000 VND. You can book this online.
For those who are travelling to Hoi An from Da Nang City, private taxis and shuttle buses can also be booked. The #1 public bus can also be taken from the town. This will cost 30,000, including a suitcase or large backpack.
Where to Stay in Hoi An
Hoi An is a tourist hotspot in Vietnam, so there are countless choices for hotels in Hoi An. For first-timers to Hoi An, staying in the Old Town is your best bet.
Many of the best things to see in Hoi An are located in the Old Town. The Old Town is incredibly walkable, with amazing food within a few minutes of walking.
Another popular area to stay in Hoi An is near the beach. There is a selection of beachfront resorts at An Bang and Cua Dai beaches.
Top Things to Do in Hoi An
Get Clothing Tailored.
Getting clothing tailored is one of the best things to buy in Vietnam. It’s not every day you come across clothing that fits you perfectly.
Vietnam is known for its tailored clothing, especially in the town of Hoi An. There are (literally) hundreds of tailor shops in the old town itself.
It’ll take an average of 48 hours to get garments made – yes, the tailors work very fast! If you’ve planned two to three days in Hoi An, I’d suggest visiting a tailor the first day you arrive.
You’ll need at least three visits – one for the consultation, and two fittings. It’s likely you’ll get to pick up the completed garment during the second fitting.
It’ll pay to have designs in mind; then you can discuss the materials and other finer details on your first visit.
Yaly is my pick for a high-end tailor, as well as Tuong Lai Future.
Japanese Covered Bridge.
The Japanese Covered Bridge marks a defining moment in Hoi An’s history. The bridge, located near the water’s edge of the Thu Bon River, bridged the Japanese and Chinese communities who lived at either side.
This bridge was built in the 16th Century, and the detail in the architecture is stunning.
Visit the Old House of Tan Ky.
Preserved through seven generations, the Old House of Tan Ky is a must-see in Hoi An. Like the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Old House of Tan Ky incorporates both Japanese and Chinese architecture.
Be sure to look up to see the most impressive parts of the house. There are stacked beams to hold the veiling up and ornate carvings.
Eat at Banh Mi Phuong.
A banh mi is a Vietnamese spin on the classic French baguette. Pate is the secret ingredient, along with meats such as BBQ pork, with salad and fresh herbs.
Banh Mi Phuong is the most popular place to buy a banh mi in Hoi An. Anthony Bourdain once visited, and the eatery featured on his tv show, No Reservations.
My favourite flavour of banh mi comes from here. Try the chicken and cheese flavour during your next visit!
Grab a Drink by the Thu Bon River.
The heart of the Old Town boasts a picturesque, riverfront setting. The yellow buildings within the town extend out to the waterfront, with lanterns hanging in between the buildings.
The bridge of lights, as its name suggests, is lit up at night, along with the lanterns in the water.
Cross the bridge to find a selection of bars to grab a drink at as you watch the sunset. Once the sun has set, take a boat ride down the river. Definitely put this on your list if you’re travelling with your significant other!
Go to An Bang Beach.
After becoming immersed in Hoi An Old Town’s charm, you’ll start to forget Hoi An is a coastal town with beaches and resorts. Just five kilometres away, An Bang Beach is a great place for a swim.
There are beachfront restaurants lining the coast, and they all make the most refreshing fruit smoothies.
Aim to spend half a day here which will give you time to take a dip in the ocean, relax on the sun loungers, and dine at their restaurants.
The sun loungers in front of the restaurants are usually free as long as you dine there afterwards.
Cua Dai Beach is another popular beach nearby which is often frequented by resort-dwellers.
Bike to the Rice Fields.
Under four kilometres from the Old Town lies a small stretch of rice paddy fields and an organic vegetable farm. There are tours available, as well as cooking classes to teach you how to cook amazing Vietnamese dishes.
Rent a bike from a store in Hoi An Old Town and cycle here. It should only take 15 to 20 minutes to do so. Bike hire for a day should only cost $1 USD to $2 USD.
Eat Cao Lau Noodles.
The last time I settled in Hoi An for a while, I ate Cao Lau noodles every day! I became addicted to these delicious noodles that had first been fried, then steamed.
Whereas many Vietnamese dishes incorporate rice noodles, Cao Lau uses yellow noodles. The noodles are complemented with vegetables and herbs, as well as a broth. The pork served with the noodles is typically marinated in Chinese five-spice to give a full-flavoured dish.
Cao Lau is native to Hoi An, making it a great place to find Cao Lau noodles. They’re served at most restaurants around the Old Town.
Walk by the Central Market.
Come to the Central Market for a cultural experience. You’ll find locals visiting the markets in the morning to buy their fresh produce for their restaurants or homes.
The best things to buy there are fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are of abundance here, as well as herbs and spices. Like the other stalls within the Old Town, you’ll also find clothing.
The Central Market is also an affordable place to buy silk if you’re a keen sewer or are looking for a particular material to bring to the tailors, head here for reasonable prices.
If you do make purchases at Central Market, remember to barter. If you ‘look’ like a tourist, prices will be inflated and haggling is encouraged and the norm in Vietnam.
Take a Half-Day Tour to My Son Sanctuary.
My Son Sanctuary is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vietnam and is regarded as one of the longest inhabited archaeological sites in Indochina.
These Hindu ruins are located one hour from Hoi An Old Town, making it a great place to visit as a half-day trip. My Son runs daily tours at their site.
I would recommend visiting My Son if you haven’t had a chance to visit Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. My Son is of a much smaller scale, so you may not find My Son as impressive if you’ve already seen Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples.
Take a Cooking Class.
If you’re yet to try Vietnamese cuisine, you’re in for a treat. The thing I love most about Vietnamese food is how fresh and light everything is. Fresh herbs add to each meal, which usually contains lots of salads and rice noodles.
Learning how to cook these dishes means you’ll be able to take these skills back home with you and be able to feast on these meals even when you’re not on holiday.
My friends and I went to Vy’s Market Restaurant and Cooking School. We learned how to make goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), Banh xeo (savoury, crispy pancake), Cao Lau noodles, and a papaya salad.
Visit Thanh Ha Terracotta Park.
Thanh Ha Terracotta Park gives an overview of the history of terracotta in Vietnam and other countries around the world.
There’s an art gallery displaying contemporary art, as well as various terracotta sculptures.
Famous buildings from around the globe, such as the Search, are presented in terracotta.
They also offer a hands-on experience – try your hand in pottery.
Located three kilometres from the main town, Terracotta Park is just a short trip away.
Bio: Delilah Hart is an avid traveller and writer for her travel blog. When travelling, you’ll find her with a camera on hand taking photographs of landscapes.
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