Hoi An, located in the Quảng Nam Province in Central Vietnam and a little bit south of Da Nang, is definitely a beautiful city worth being marvelled at. It’s full of life and rich Vietnamese culture which comes at no surprise given that it’s been titled a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Compared to the other cities in vietnam, Hoi An really does a good job of sticking to its roots – it’s more traditional and has a very interesting history behind it – a history over 2 milleniums rich!
At night, the lanterns light up the night sky which accentuates the old colonial buildings and cute little streets, tailor shops, sidewalks, and night markets, making for a wonderful – and very Instagrammable – scene.
Must See in Hoi An
Walk the Old Quarters.
Walking along the old quarters, I noticed the streets themselves were really pretty – we felt like taking photos every now and then. Explore along the path and you’ll find there are lots to see, like small tailor shops, leather and clothing stores, as well as silk items and lots and lots of yummy Vietnamese street food and restaurants. What’s more, the old quarters look particularly dazzling at night when all of the colorful lanterns hung up on the buildings come to life – you can even buy your own at the many shops selling them on the street. They come in different sizes and styles, so you can take your pick and even take some home with you.
Buy tickets to see the UNESCO preserved area.
In the ancient town, you’ll find people selling tickets for entry inside 5 preserved areas, including the Japanese bridge. Aside from these five areas, there are also 5 additional tickets to grant you entry to the temples nestled within the town. The tickets are good for a total of 24 hours (meaning you can buy one in the afternoon and then go back in the morning). Each ticket will set you back 120,000 VND which is around 280 PHP or 5 US dollars. The proceeds from the tickets are used in order to maintain and improve the preserved state of the UNESCO World Heritage area. It’s a good buy if you’re a first time in the area and want to know about the history and culture of the city.
In our case, however, we opted out of paying the fee and decided to continue walking around the ancient town. We were still able to see the bridge and the heritage houses from the outside, however – we saw similar sights while we were in Hanoi which is why we didn’t think that the 5 dollars was worth it for the payment. But if you want to give what you can for the efforts to preserve the area – perhaps you should buy a ticket. We happened to visit on a particularly crowded day, hence the reason we decided to forego the purchase.
If you do want to purchase the ticket and explore the five sights, here are the establishments which will be included in your payment:
– This bridge dates back to as old as the 1950s, constructed by the Japanese community – a fact which is made evident by their unique architecture and design. It’s a very iconic attraction and looks the best in photos at night, when all of the streetlights and lanterns are reflecting off the waters below.2.
– Another great place to see the old colonial architecture.
c. Tran Ancestor Worship House –
This is where members of the Tran family come to worship their ancestors – a very common practice in Vietnamese society.
d.Phung Hung Ancient House
– An ancestral house which is a great example of old Vietnamese architecture, ebbing with culture and artefacts.
The things inside this store were very cute! It’s a great place to shop for minimalist homewares. Plus, they had a very Instagrammable wall inside the store. You can find directions to the Sunday Store here.
The Hoi An Night Market located on Nguyen Hoang Street is an absolute shopper’s galore, consisting of dozens upon dozens of stalls and vendors selling pretty much anything you can think of, ranging from clothes, trinkets and souvenirs, to even street food and groceries – all at very affordable price points. Haggling is the norm at the night market, so you don’t need to be afraid to negotiate a little with the vendors. The night market is also a great place to purchase, as well as get some nice shots of the beautiful lanterns.
For those who prefer to get their shopping done during the day, the Central Market in Hoi An is another great alternative. It’s cramped and filled with motorbikes in these busy market streets, and you can find mostly clothing as well as product like fish and fruits – again, haggling is perfectly allowed here! Tip: Prices are usually higher at the stalls nearest the entrance so be sure to walk in deeper for the best deals, at the best price point. The Central Market begins its business daily from 6:30 in the morning.
Hoi An is historically a popular trading port, attracting lots of international traders in the 15th – 18th century. Here, you can enjoy the pretty views at night of the lanterns’ lights being reflected against the waters, or you can pay to take a boat ride and snap pictures of the riversides of Hoi An while on the ride. For a more unique experience you can even ride a Coconut Basket Boat – though it’ll cost you around 300,000 VND per person, or around 13 US dollars. There are coconut basket boat tours available, but they tend to be more expensive than when you book through the locals directly.
7.The Assembly Hall of the Fijian Chinese Congregation in Hoi An
This temple in Hoi An is another beautiful – and very picturesque – place to visit while in the city. It was built in the 1960s for the Chinese from Fukien to worship. The gate and entrance are stunning and very intricately designed and the red dragons on either side of the gate make it even prettier. When you go inside, you’ll find lots of halls filled with even more traditional statues and architecture made of precious metals, as well as worshipping areas for the locals. The hall is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
8. Go diving in Cham Island
At Hoi An’s UNESCO Biosphere reserve, you can enjoy swimming alongside the reefs and other underwater life. Cham Island is an hour away from the mainland via boat and there are plenty of diving centres on the island to help you along the way. A dive with tour and instructions usually costs around 60 to 70 USD per person.
9.Explore the Beach
Aside from its rich history and terrific cultural spots, Hoi An also boasts beautiful sandy beaches with pleasant white sand that’s great for sinking your toes into – there are lots of hotels and resorts around the area too. One of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Hoi an is the An Bang Beach with a full 4 kilometre coastline to explore.
Must Do Experiences in Hoi An:
Vietnamese delicious is cuisine known worldwide for its taste – so it only makes sense to want to take some of that unique flavor home with you. There are many different cooking classes available in Hoi An We took the Sabirama cooking tour via Cookly and I can assure you, this tour offers more than just a cooking class. It includes more experiences as well.
Read our experience about Sabirama cooking school here.
Basket fishing is another great experience while in Hoi An. There are plenty of tours in the area to choose from, ranging around the price of 30 USD. You get to ride in an adorable looking woven basket boat and take a ride along the Cua Dai Bay, all while catching the fish in the water – most tours even offer fresh lunches during the ride.
Pro Tip: If you take the Sabirama cooking class, you can do this for 10 minutes and its included in the tour.
Floating Lantern by the river.
It’s a fun experience, releasing lanterns into the water, but be warned: They will try to overcharge you, they will ask for so many things. The day before we were charged 200K VND but the following day we were able to get it for 100K VND – it’s like 50K VND per person including the lantern that you release into the water.
Have a tailor made dress
Hoi An is very well known for all of the tailoring shops and stalls littered about the streets. A lot of people think it’s cheap but personally, I thought it was rather expensive. Yes, it is tailor made – but shopping in the Philippines is cheaper and it just didn’t feel right for me to get anything tailor made in Hoi An. But when it comes to dresses and formal wear and all – others may find it cheap and worth it.
Explore Danang, Monkey Mountain or My Son with Motorbike Tours.
Vietnam is known for motorbikes so what’s a trip to Vietnam without having a motorbike tour. In Ho Chi Minh, we did a food tour with Vespa Adventures. In Hoi-An, we took a tour to the offbeat sides of Hoi An and Da Nang with Motorbike Tours. This was nice as it took us to less touristy stuff, it was scenic and the whole tour is very informative and based on our pace. Definitely recommend that you do it. You can book the tour here
Must Eat in Hoi An Vietnam
Madam Queen Banh MI
Banh Mi, a type of Vietnamese sandwich, is the primary meal being sold here. Aside from being very cheap, they are also very delicious, filling, and more than worth their price. They go for around 4 US dollars per sandwich. The small restaurant also sells beers to help wash down your food. It’s a fast food restaurant so expect to wine and dine very quickly – tourists and locals alike tend to flock to this area quite often.
Address: 115 Tran Cao Van Street, Hoi An 065, Vietnam
Banh Mi Phoung made famous by Bourdain
This is another prominent Banh Mi place made famous by Anthony Bourdain, who was a popular food critic and adventurer. I loved it a lot. Given its popularity, there is a queue – but it went by quite fast, since the Banh Mi production was relatively quick.
Address: Phan Chu Trinh, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Reaching Out Tea House
This is a social enterprise where silence from customers is encouraged. They sell primarily tea and coffee here. In addition, they employ people with disabilities – which is why they request that the visitors be silent. It was a different experience. I wish we took the seat by the garden but unfortunately it was really hot that day, so we decided to sit by the window instead. Another negative was that there was construction ongoing at the store across from Reaching Out – but still, I could see how this experience could be really nice and reflective.
Address: 131 Trần Phú, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Must Try: Local Food
- White Rose Dumpling
- Cau Lau
- Fried Wonton
- Chicken Rice
- Banh MI
Itinerary in Hoi An Vietnam
- Explore Old Town and Night Market
- Eat in Banh Mi Phuong
- Cooking Class with Cookly (Sabirama)
- Basket Fishing
- Eat in Banh MI Queen
- Have a massage
- Take a motorbike Adventure through the paddys and go up Monkey Mountain
- Explore Da Nang
- Day trip to My Son
Other things to do at Hoi An Vietnam:
- Go diving in Cham Island
- Explore the Beach
How to Get to Hoi An
- Take a plane to Da Nang and then take a 25 minute cab ride to Hoi An.
- Do what we did – we took the 13 hour sleeper bus from Da Lat that leaves at 5 PM and gets there at 5:30 AM.
It was a new route to take, and we met a lot of people. It was a pretty okay ride since we were only a few people but the bathroom of the sleeper bus wasn’t good at all – but if you really need to go…there’s that.
Hoi An Tips :
- It’s more expensive in Hoi An than in other Vietnamese cities due to the tourist popularity.
- You can use Grab Bike – it’s an easier mode of transportation, and you won’t have to deal with the crowds and traffic.
- Cabs are charged per kilometre – 16 VNS per 1 km.
- Parking scams are prevalent – if you’re going to be going by car, be careful of the scams of the locals who will charge you a hefty price for parking in a public area.