Best things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam – For first-time visitors to Hoi An

Hoi An, Vietnam

Are you looking for a unique travel destination that is rich in history, culture, and natural beauty? Look no further than Hoi An, Vietnam! Located on the central coast of Vietnam, Hoi An is a charming city that has something to offer every traveler. From exploring the ancient streets of the Old Town to indulging in the local cuisine, there are plenty of things to do in Hoi An. In this travel guide, we’ll explore the top attractions, food, and accommodations in Hoi An, as well as tips for planning your visit.

About Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 15th century. It was once a bustling port town that attracted traders from all over the world, including China, Japan, and Europe. Today, Hoi An is known for its well-preserved old town, which is home to ancient temples, traditional merchant houses, and atmospheric lantern-lit streets. The city is also famous for its tailors, who can create custom-made clothing in just a few hours.

Discover Hoi An Old Town

The Old Town is the heart of Hoi An and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Hoi An. Stroll through the narrow streets and alleyways, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of this ancient city. Here are some top attractions and experiences to discover in Hoi An Old Town:

1. Japanese Covered Bridge (Cau Pagoda): This iconic 17th-century bridge is a symbol of Hoi An and a perfect spot for taking memorable photographs.

2. Ancient Houses: Hoi An is famous for its well-preserved ancient houses that showcase traditional Vietnamese architectural styles. Visit the Tan Ky House, Phung Hung Old House, and Quan Thang Old House, among others.

3. Assembly Halls: Explore the various assembly halls built by Chinese merchant communities to worship their ancestors. The most famous ones are the Fujian Assembly Hall and the Cantonese Assembly Hall.

4. Night Market: Take a stroll through the bustling Night Market, which stretches along Nguyen Hoang Street. Enjoy shopping for souvenirs, sampling delicious street food, and witnessing colorful lantern displays.

5. Lantern Festival: Visit Hoi An during a full moon to experience the enchanting Lantern Festival. The entire Old Town is illuminated with vibrant lanterns, adding to the magical atmosphere.

6. Tailor-made Clothing: Hoi An is renowned for its custom-made clothing. Get measured and have a tailor create a unique outfit for you within a short timeframe.

7. Cuisine: Indulge in Hoi An’s delicious local cuisine, including signature dishes like Cao Lau (noodles with pork and herbs), White Rose (steamed shrimp dumplings), and Banh Mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches).

8. Boat Trips: Take a leisurely ride on a traditional wooden boat along the Thu Bon River. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and catch glimpses of local fishermen going about their daily routines.

9. Cultural Workshops: Engage in various workshops to learn about traditional crafts such as lantern-making, silk weaving, and pottery. You can create your own unique souvenirs under the guidance of skilled artisans.

10. An Bang Beach: Just a short distance from the Old Town lies An Bang Beach. Relax on the sandy shore, swim in the clear blue waters, and savor fresh seafood at beachside restaurants.

Hoi An Old Town offers a vibrant mix of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination for travelers in Vietnam.

Day Trips from Hoi An

There are several great day trip options from Hoi An. Some popular choices include:

1. Da Nang: Just 40 minutes away from Hoi An, Da Nang offers attractions such as the Marble Mountains, the iconic Dragon Bridge, and beautiful beaches like My Khe Beach.

2. My Son Sanctuary: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is around 1.5 hours away from Hoi An and showcases ancient Hindu temples. It’s a great place to explore Vietnam’s rich history.

3. Cham Islands: Located about 15 km off the coast of Hoi An, the Cham Islands offer pristine beaches, snorkeling, and diving opportunities in crystal-clear waters. You can take a boat trip from Hoi An.

4. Hue: Approximately 3 hours from Hoi An, Hue is known for its historical sites, such as the Imperial City, royal tombs, and stunning pagodas. It offers a glimpse into Vietnam’s imperial past.

5. Bach Ma National Park: Located about a 2-hour drive from Hoi An, this national park offers hiking trails, bird-watching, and stunning views of the surrounding area. It’s a great option for nature lovers.

6. Ba Na Hills: A popular tourist destination, Ba Na Hills is around 1.5 hours away from Hoi An. It features a French village, a golden bridge held by giant hands, cable cars, and beautiful gardens.

7. Cua Dai Beach: If you want to relax by the beach, Cua Dai Beach is just 5 km away from Hoi An. It offers a long stretch of sandy shore and beautiful sunsets.

These are just a few suggestions, but there are many more day trip options from Hoi An depending on your interests and preferences.

Food in Hoi An and Where to Eat

Hoi An, a charming city in Vietnam, is known for its delectable cuisine. Here are some popular dishes and places to eat in Hoi An:

1. Cao Lau: This local specialty consists of thick rice noodles, slices of pork, bean sprouts, herbs, and crispy pork rinds. It can be found in various eateries and street food stalls around Hoi An.

2. Banh Mi: Hoi An’s take on the famous Vietnamese sandwich is a must-try. The combination of crispy baguette, pâté, pickled vegetables, herbs, and your choice of fillings such as pork belly or grilled chicken make it a satisfying snack. Try Banh Mi Phuong, which is famous for its flavorful sandwiches.

3. White Rose Dumplings (Banh Bao Vac): These delicate dumplings, made from rice flour filled with shrimp or minced pork, are shaped like a rose. Visit Ms. Vy’s Morning Glory Restaurant for an authentic taste.

4. Com Ga (Chicken Rice): The fragrant, steamed chicken served with rice cooked in chicken broth is a local favorite. Ba Buoi Chicken Rice is a popular eatery where you can enjoy this dish.

5. Mi Quang: Originating from the Quang Nam province, this dish features thick, yellow rice noodles topped with various ingredients such as shrimp, pork, herbs, peanuts, and a flavorful broth. Try Mi Quang Ba Mua, a family-run restaurant famous for this specialty.

6. Fresh Seafood: Hoi An is by the coast, so fresh seafood is abundant. Head to the riverside restaurants or visit the Hoi An Night Market to indulge in a variety of seafood dishes. Be sure to try the grilled squid or prawns.

7. Banh Xeo: These crispy Vietnamese pancakes are made from rice flour and filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts. Wrap them in rice paper along with fresh herbs and dip them in a sweet and sour fish sauce. Banh Xeo Ba Le is a recommended spot to try this dish.

8. Street Food Stalls: Don’t miss exploring the street food scene in Hoi An. Wander around the atmospheric Old Town and sample various local snacks such as banh beo (steamed rice cakes), banh it (sticky rice dumplings), and che (Vietnamese sweet soups).

Remember, Hoi An offers numerous eateries and street food stalls, so don’t be afraid to explore and try different places. Enjoy the culinary delights this city has to offer!

Where to Stay in Hoi An

Hoi An is a beautiful city in Vietnam known for its well-preserved Ancient Town and stunning beaches. There are several areas where you can stay in Hoi An, depending on your preferences and budget. Here are some recommendations:

1. Ancient Town: This is the most popular and charming area to stay in Hoi An. You’ll be surrounded by historic buildings, lantern-lined streets, and various shops and restaurants. Consider staying in a boutique hotel or homestay to fully experience the ambiance of the old town.

2. An Bang Beach: If you’re looking for a beach vacation, An Bang Beach is a great option. It’s a short taxi or bike ride away from the Ancient Town and offers a more laid-back and relaxing atmosphere. There are several beachfront resorts and guesthouses where you can stay.

3. Cam Thanh Village: For a serene rural experience, consider staying in Cam Thanh Village. Located on the outskirts of Hoi An, this area is known for its lush rice paddies and peaceful surroundings. You can find eco-lodges and homestays here, offering a unique local experience.

4. Cua Dai Beach: Another popular beach area in Hoi An is Cua Dai Beach. It’s located about 5 kilometers from the Ancient Town and offers several resorts and hotels with beachfront views. This area is perfect for those who want to enjoy both the beach and the city.

Ultimately, the best place to stay in Hoi An depends on your interests and preferences. Regardless of where you choose to stay, Hoi An is a relatively small city, so most places are easily accessible.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Hoi An, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Here are a few recommendations:

Anantara Hoi An Resort

The Anantara Hoi An Resort is a luxurious 5-star resort located on the banks of the Thu Bon River, just a short walk from the Old Town. It features spacious rooms and suites with traditional Vietnamese decor, as well as a spa, swimming pool, and restaurant.

Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa

The Little Hoi An Boutique Hotel & Spa is a charming boutique hotel located in the heart of the Old Town. It features beautifully decorated rooms and suites with traditional Vietnamese touches, as well as a swimming pool, spa, and restaurant.

Hoi An Rose Garden Hotel

The Hoi An Rose Garden Hotel is a great option for budget-conscious travelers. It is located just a short walk from the Old Town and features clean and comfortable rooms, as well as a rooftop terrace with stunning views.

When is the Best Time to Visit Hoi An?

The best time to visit Hoi An depends on your preferences and travel plans. The city has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons – the dry season and the wet season. Here’s what you need to know:

Dry Season (February – July)

The dry season is the most popular time to visit Hoi An. The weather is warm and sunny, with low humidity and little rainfall. However, this is also peak tourist season, so expect crowds and higher prices.

Wet Season (August – January)

The wet season is characterized by heavy rainfall and occasional typhoons. While this might sound like a deterrent, the rain can actually make the city even more beautiful, with clear skies and lush greenery.

Weather in Hoi An

The weather in Hoi An, Vietnam is generally hot and humid year-round. The average temperature ranges from 22°C (72°F) to 35°C (95°F).

The city experiences two main seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season, which is the best time to visit, lasts from February to early September. During this time, the weather is sunny and rainfall is minimal. Temperatures often reach their peak in June, July, and August.

The wet season in Hoi An occurs from September to January, with October and November being the rainiest months. During this time, you can expect frequent rainfall and occasional typhoons. Despite the rain, the temperatures remain warm.

It is important to note that weather patterns can vary from year to year, so it is advisable to check the forecast closer to your travel dates.

Getting to Hoi An

Hoi An is located about 30 kilometers south of Da Nang, which has an international airport and a railway station. Here’s how to get there:

By Air

Da Nang International Airport is the closest airport to Hoi An, with flights from major cities in Vietnam and Asia. From the airport, you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Hoi An.

By Train

If you’re traveling by train, you can take a train to Da Nang Railway Station and then take a taxi or bus to Hoi An.

By Bus

There are several bus companies that operate between Hoi An and other cities in Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Hue.

Ready to Plan Your Visit to Hoi An?

Hoi An is a unique and beautiful city that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Whether you want to explore the ancient streets of the Old Town, indulge in the local cuisine, or relax on the beach, there are plenty of things to do in Hoi An. Use this travel guide to help plan your visit, and don’t forget to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this charming city.

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