Vietnam is a beautiful country with a fascinating history, beaches, mountains and vibrant cities. Of all the places I’d choose to go back to in Vietnam, Hoi An would be right at the top of my list. Why? Not only are there many intriguing things to do in Hoi An, but there are also fabulous beaches and an atmospheric old town.
Hoi An is located in the province of Quang Nam on the south-central coast of Vietnam. A vibrant Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries, one of the best reasons to visit Hoi An is to soak up the historic ambience and explore it’s a UNESCO World Heritage architecture and many of Vietnam’s best landmarks.
Hoi An’s culture is a blend of Chinese, Japanese, Dutch and Indian brought to the region by traders and sailors who settled in the area as far back as the 16th century.
For more things to do in Vietnam read:
- 20 Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City
- 15 Things To Do In Hanoi
- 15 Things To Do In Hoi An
- Things To Do In Hue
- Vung Tau Travel Guide
- Vietnam River Cruise
- Hanoi vs Ho Chi Minh City
- Hoi An
- Things To Do In Hoi An
- 1- Spend Time On The Beach
- 2- Tour Hoi An’s Old Town
- 3- Visit Fu Jian Temple
- 4- Order a Tailormade Suit
- 5- Take a cyclo ride around Hoi An
- 6- Try local Hoi An Food
- 7- Visit Hoi An’s Markets
- 8- Take a cooking class
- 9- Explore World Heritage My Son
- 10- Cruise The River
- 11- Snorkel The Cham Islands
- 11- Visit Ba Na Hills
- 12- Visit A Fishing Village or Farm
- 13- Take A Tour of Marble Mountain
- 14- Ride A Scooter Around The Countryside
- 15- Go Biking And Kayaking
- Where To Stay In Hoi An
- Things To Do In Hoi An
Things To Do In Hoi An
1- Spend Time On The Beach
As Hoi An is on the east coast, going to the beach is a great way to watch the sunrise.
Hoi An’s beaches are great spots to escape the humidity and enjoy a breeze.
The most famous beach in the area is China Beach, for its starring role in the movie Apocalypse Now, where American ground combat units waded ashore to establish a base in Vietnam.
Cua Dai Beach is a quieter beach, with an alluring stretch of white sand and a locally-owned four-star hotel Palm Gardens Resort has direct access to the beach.
The resort’s garden has a great setup, with timber deck chairs, thatch parasols, shady palms and hammocks.
An Bang Beach is at the end of the main road leading out of Hoi An and has access to bars, restaurants, watersports and beach lounges for hire.
Not far from An Bang Beach is An Bang South and there’s Hidden Beach, where you can order a seafood meal on the beach at Hidden Beach restaurant.
Check the latest prices of hotels in Hoi An here
2- Tour Hoi An’s Old Town
As you wander around UNESCO World Heritage the historic quarter, admiring the Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese houses, you can picture the bustling trading port if must have once been.
Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An was a busy spice trading centre.
The historic merchants’ houses have been converted into galleries, antique stores, restaurants and bars.
Explore Chinese assembly halls and take a photo at the Japanese Bridge, which is a recognisable landmark of Hoi An.
After 10 am, Hoi An’s Old Town is a pedestrian zone.
A 120,000 dong ($6) pass from the Hoi An Office of Tourist Services offers entry to 22 historic temples, museums and assembly halls or if you prefer to delve deeper into history book a walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town.
3- Visit Fu Jian Temple
Fu Jian temple was built in 1967 by the Chinese who came to Hoi An from China to escape the tyranny of the Ming Emperors.
The Ming Dynasty’s long arm reached Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, shaping the lives and direction of the local people.
Initially, the temple was used as an assembly hall by the clan.
Later, it was turned into a temple dedicated to Lady Jing Hao who was believed to have the power of rescuing fishermen from calamities at sea. Even today, Vietnamese sailors and their descendants continue to worship the Lady of the Sea.
The temple has Chinese lion statues and shrines.
4- Order a Tailormade Suit
With over 400 tailor shops and rows of shoemakers, even if you don’t have any intention of going shopping, it’ll be hard to resist.
The Old Town is a shopping nirvana packed with galleries, souvenir, craft, clothing and shoe shops.
You can have shoes and clothes custom made for a lot less than it would cost to buy off the rack at home.
Tran Hung Dao Street is packed with tailors and shoemakers who work quickly and can sew an entire wardrobe in less than 24 hours.
Expect to pay around USD$150 for a suit and about USD$90 for a dress.
How to select a tailor
- It’s a good idea to bring a favourite suit or dress for the tailor to copy.
- Make sure you negotiate as the initial price is likely to be much higher than you need to pay.
- Shop around and compare prices and quality before deciding.
5- Take a cyclo ride around Hoi An
Get off your feet and into a cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle pedalled by a hard-working cyclo driver).
It’s a relaxing way to get around, and you’ll be helping the economy and keeping a local in a job.
Make sure you don’t pay the cyclo driver the asking price as these fellas are known for overcharging.
Alternatively, you can hire a bicycle for around $2 a day.
6- Try local Hoi An Food
Local food in Hoi An is fresh, inexpensive and delicious.
Hoi An is famous for Cau Lau, which are special noodles made from water drawn from the Ba Le Well, Com Ga chicken rice, and white rose dumplings made at the White Rose restaurant (533 Hai Ba Trung) with a secret family recipe.
White Rose dumplings are prawn-filled dumplings arranged to resemble a rose, with fried onion topping and a dipping sauce.
A bottle of beer costs between $1 and $2 in a local restaurant, a bowl of pho around $1.50 and a massage in a local parlour between $5 and $10.
7- Visit Hoi An’s Markets
The produce market in Hoi An is a hub of activity but make sure to visit first thing in the morning for the freshest produce.
Keep your eye out for Vietnamese spices, Bot Ngu Vi Huong (five aroma powder), which is sold in sealed packets, as it’s a perfect gift.
You can combine a shopping tour of a local produce market with a cooking class.
Another market to visit is the Hoi An fish market by boat to watch the locals haggle over fresh fish.
8- Take a cooking class
You can learn to cook Vietnamese food anywhere in the world, but there’s nothing more memorable than attending a cooking class in Vietnam.
It’s a fun and inexpensive way to learn new recipes, and it can be very entertaining.
In Hoi An, there are plenty of schools to choose from, including Morning Glory and the Red Bridge Cooking School, which is a short boat trip from the centre.
Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School
Red Bridge has day classes in the countryside and night classes in their cafe in the Old Town.
Learn how to make rice paper rolls during a half-day cooking school at Red Bridge and help the chef pick herbs in the school garden.
Green Bamboo Cooking School
Green Bamboo is a famous cooking school in the Old Town and joining a class is a social event.
Tip: Don’t express your appreciation of the food by saying it’s yummy. You might get more than you’ve bargained for as in the Vietnamese language, “yummy” means you’re feeling sexually aroused!
Check the latest prices of hotels in Hoi An here
9- Explore World Heritage My Son
My Son is a UNESCO World Heritage Site about an hour and a half by road from Hoi An.
Once the capital of the Champa Kingdom, the crumbling remains of 4th to 13th-century Hindu temples sit in a lush valley with views of the surrounding mountains.
The Champa Kingdom was an ancient Indochinese kingdom that in central and southern Vietnam formed in 192AD when a Han Dynasty official from China decided to establish his kingdom.
French archeologist Henri Parmentier discovered the site in 1903.
Although the ruins are falling, there are stunning bas reliefs of snakes, elephants and war scenes.
10- Cruise The River
During the 7th to 10th centuries, Hoi An was a major port of the Cham Kingdom due to its location on the Hoai (or Thu Bon) River.
Today, the colourful waterscape of timber boats and shophouses is a scenic backdrop for a river cruise.
Sipping cocktails as your cruise the river is a relaxing way to end the day then enjoy a romantic dinner while floating around on the water.
A trip in a local boat costs around $3 an hour, and you can book a cocktail and dinner cruise here.
11- Snorkel The Cham Islands
20km to Hoi An’s east, the waters around the eight Cham Islands offer swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving.
The islands have lovely beaches and lush hills covered in forest.
There are fishing villages on one island and diving sites with coral gardens, underwater pinnacles and rock formations.
11- Visit Ba Na Hills
Ba Na Hills is an entertainment complex built and a refreshing mountain escape at 1,500 m (4,921 feet).
It is built to look like a Medieval castle, with a fantasy park with rides, the world’s longest cable car (with views of Danang) and a charming imitation French village with cobblestone streets.
Drink wine at the Debay wine cellar, take a photo at Linh Ung pagoda’s giant Buddha and stroll around the Loc Uyen garden.
Wander around the Ba Na Hills Wax Museum or get your thrills on one of the amusement park rides.
12- Visit A Fishing Village or Farm
Visiting a rice farm complete with water buffalo or a fishing village by boat are great ways to delve into Hoi An’s culture.
Buffaloes are prized by Vietnamese farmers and used to plough the land with their large hooves and strong bodies.
Rice farming has been done this way for centuries and scenes of women picking rice with water buffaloes in the background are classic.
13- Take A Tour of Marble Mountain
Marble Mountain’s caves and grottos are intriguing to explore, and the view from the mountain top is stunning.
The five marble and limestone hills are named for the five elements Kim, Thuy, Moc, Hoa and Tho.
Stone steps lead up to a Buddhist pagoda, and there’s a quaint stone village at the foot of the mountain, where you can watch local sculptors create marble products.
Marble Mountain is at Ngũ Hành Sơn District, which is to the south of Da Nang.
14- Ride A Scooter Around The Countryside
One of the best ways to soak up local life is to hire a scooter and explore the countryside around Hoi An.
A guided tour offers the opportunity to visit local homes, meet local families and experience their way of life.
Ride across bridges, past rice fields and into markets.
Riding a scooter is not that difficult but if you’re unsure about scootering around, another option is to book a motorbike sidecar.
15- Go Biking And Kayaking
Active travellers who love biking and kayaking might want to try exploring the countryside on two wheels and along the river.
Not far from Hoi An’s old town is the rural Hoi region, where you can visit local workshops to see the artisans at work.
Paddling back along the river to Hoi An is a great way to see another side of this UNESCO World Heritage city.
Where To Stay In Hoi An
A room in a budget hotel can cost as little as $20 a night, while a locally owned four-star resort by the beach costs from $120 a night.
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