What to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

What to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

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beach
Cua Dai Beach Photos: Christina Pfeiffer

You love Bali and Thailand but you haven’t made it to Vietnam. Maybe it’s because you’re not sure if you’ll have a good time. Don’t worry. You will. Here are some tips and ideas on what to do in Hoi An, Vietnam.

1-Book a hotel on the beach near Hoi An

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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.

hoi an beach resort

Cua Dai Beach is a quieter beach, with an alluring stretch of white sand. I stayed at locally-owned four-star hotel Palm Gardens Resort and was impressed.

The resort has direct access to the beach and a great setup, with timber deck chairs, thatch parasols, shady palms and hammocks.

Tip: You’ll love the price. Superior rooms cost from $120 a night.

Check the latest prices of hotels in Hoi An here

2-Tour Hoi An’s Old Town

Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Hoi An was a busy spice trading centre.

As you wander around UNESCO World Heritage the historic quarter, admiring the Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese houses, you can just picture the bustling trading port if must have once been.

The historic merchants’ houses have been converted into galleries, antique stores, restaurants and bars.

Vietnam Hoi An dusk lanterns

Tip: A 120,000 dong ($6) pass from the Hoi An Office of Tourist Services offers entry to 22 historic temples, museums and assembly halls.

Want to know if a tour of the Old Town is worth doing? Watch this

3-Bring an empty suitcase to Hoi An

With over 400 tailor shops and rows of shoe makers, 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. Tailors and shoemakers work quickly and can sew an entire wardrobe in less than 24 hours.

what to do in hoi an

Tip: It’s a good idea to bring a favourite suit or dress for the tailor to copy. And make sure you negotiate as the initial price is likely to be much higher than you need to pay.

Want some tips on how to negotiate? Check this out.

4-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. Alternatively, you can hire a bicycle for around $2 a day.

Vietnam Cyclodrivers Hoi An

Tip: Don’t pay the cyclo driver the asking price. If you want to know the going rate, watch this amusing webisode of Vietnam Chronicles.

5-Try local Hoi An Food

Local food is fresh, inexpensive and delicious. 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.

 what to do in hoi an
Vietnam white rose dumpling

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.

Tip: The produce market is a hub of activity. Make sure to visit first thing in the morning for the freshest produce and keep your eye out for Vietnamese spices, Bot Ngu Vi Huong (five aroma powder), which is sold in sealed packets and make perfect gifts.

6-Take a cooking class in Hoi An

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.

what to do in hoi an
Vietnam RedBridge cooking food

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.

A half-day cooking school at Red Bridge costs $29. Not sure if you’ll like it? Let chef Nguyen Nhat Thanh convince you by watching this webisode on how to make rice paper.

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

Discover Vietnam

Planning on staying longer? For more things to do in Vietnam try visiting Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Then there’s the charming city of Hue, which is a delightful destination to see temples and monks.

 

what to do in hoian vietnam

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