If I have one piece of advice for you when travelling to Vietnam, it’s don’t skip Hoi An! This charming little town is filled with stunning and well preserved historical sites, beaches (yes, you read that right) some of the best dishes in the country and all the shopping you could ever want.
Hoi An is located in the middle of the country along the coast and is an excellent place to break up a trip through Vietnam. Or it is easily accessible from the nearest airport in Da Nang which you can take a cheap shuttle from the airport directly to Hoi An.
Hoi An is the perfect break from all of the chaos that is Vietnam and will make for a refreshing stop. You may spend too much money getting clothes tailor made but you’ll fall in love with the picturesque views and mouthwatering dishes.
Things to do in Hoi An
Custom Made Clothes
You may think this is pricey, but it’s not. Welcome to Vietnam! The top things to do in Hoi An are shop and get things custom made. From rompers and shorts, leather handbags and shoes to wedding dresses and suits, pretty much anything you think of can be made in one of the many talented tailor shops.
Your best bet is to check out the Cloth Market on the corner of Tran Phu and Hoang Dieu Streets. Here you can pick fabrics from one of the many open shops and have a tailor make your dream outfit.
One of the best things to do in Vietnam is not what you’d expect, having a day on the beach. Not far from the main part of town are two beautiful beaches that are among the best beaches in Vietnam. An Bang beach is 3k away and Cua Dai is 4km, both offer white sand and beachside restaurants. Hop on a bike or take a quick taxi to one for a day of relaxation. Cua Dai is one of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I know you probably see this a lot in Asia but seriously Hoi An is one of the top places on the continent to take a cooking class. What’s so great is that you make dishes that are special to the region such as cao lau and other Vietnamese favourites like fresh spring rolls. And since food is so amazing in Hoi An, don’t skip on these delicious vegan restaurants.
Historical Sites in the Ancient Town
The Old Town is an absolutely stunning area of Hoi An that is filled with colourful buildings that have been converted into shops for souvenirs, tailors and restaurants. The buildings have been very well preserved and among the shops you’ll find sites influenced by the Chinese such as the Japanese covered bridge, the Chinese assembly halls and Guan Yin Temple.
Make the Ancient Town one of your top things to see in Hoi An as the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which you could easily spend days wandering around, enjoying the cafes and quiet streets that limit the amount of traffic allowed in.
One of the main Hoi An attractions is the Central Market. This market is easily one of the best in Vietnam. It is along the river where locals run their daily errands and where you can find delicious food, more tailor shops and souvenirs.
Cruise or paddle your way down the river to see more of the country side of Hoi An. Find a row of boats available on Bach Dang street or choose to book a tour. Most tours come with lunch and are more adventurous. Remember to haggle the price down, don’t always say yes to the first price someone offers you!
Bike Around the City
Most people only explore the Hoi An Ancient Town but one of the best Hoi An activities is a bicycle trip lead by a local who will get you out and explore all that the city has to offer. Ride through rice fields, ask questions and see the relaxing side of Hoi An. Many accommodations also offer bicycle rentals, some even for free.
Day Trip to Da Nang
Da Nang is a larger coastal city just north of Hoi An that is one of the perfect day trips from Hoi An as it’s close, only 30km away. It’s most famous for the Marble Mountains, limestone formations that are topped with pagodas and caves that are filled with shrines. It also has more beaches, is good for surfing and is more of a party place than Hoi An.
My Son Ruins
Its been referred to as the Angkor Wat of Vietnam but don’t compare it or you will be disappointed. It is still a site well worth seeing as the ruins are an important part of Vietnam’s history both religiously and culturally as they were the main site of the Champa Kingdom. The ruins are also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Water Puppet Show
Unique to Vietnam are water puppet shows where the puppets dance across the water and perform skits that depict Vietnamese life and culture. It is a fascinating cultural activity to witness that shouldn’t be missed during a trip to Vietnam.
Just off the coast is Cham Island, a group of eight islands with pristine white beaches. Here you’ll find plenty of seafood and very cheap diving. It is encouraged to take a day tour though some people do stay the night and camp out.
That pretty much covers all of what to see in Hoi An and will easily help you make a Hoi An itinerary for 2-4 days. Trust me, you’re going to want to relax and wander around when you get here!
Hoi An Accommodation
Check out the detailed guide on where to stay in Hoi An for all budgets.