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Best Things to do in Hoi An

THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN

Hoi An (Hội An), one of Vietnam’s most unique cities, is an old town which is a UNESCO heritage site. The old architecture here is well preserved and displayed. Nowadays, Hoi An is among extremely popular destinations for tourists, both domestic and international, to visit in Vietnam (Việt Nam). However, due to the increasingly number of tourists visiting here, it could be a little overwhelming, particularly during the peak tourist season.

 

Today, Hoi An is resplendent with history and charm in abundance. Having distinctive features that are hardly found anywhere else in Vietnam, along with a lot of rewards from worldwide tourism organizations, Hoi An has been become the first choice for tourists when traveling to Vietnam. For those who are going to visit this old town, a good preparation and prior acknowledgement about the attractions, features and noticeable things of Hoi An are always necessary for a rewarding, memorable trip. So, this is the reason promoting me to make a list of best things to do in Hoi An with the hope that it can help you and other tourists have the best preparation for your upcoming journey.

 

Really, making a list of best things to do in Hoi An is more difficult than I thought because there are a lot of things to do and to see in this area. Yet, this checklist is what I collected and also appreciate the most (basing on my experience and other travelers’). So, let’s check it out!

1. Explore Hoi An Ancient Town

The most important feature of Hoi An is undoubtedly Hoi An Ancient Town which is the most important and well-reserved legacy from a glorious era of Hoi An.

Used to be an international port during the 15th to 17th centuries, Hoi An witnessed a peaceful cultural fusion between Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese cultures. Nowadays, travelers coming to Hoi An still can see the shreds of evidence of this era in the ancient quarter of the town with architecture, cuisine and culture.

 

Hoi An ancient town is a must-see destination, recommended to everyone who’s planning to Hoi An.

Hoi An Museum of History & Culture

To learn more about the history and culture of Hoi An, visit this museum for more insights of the time when Hoi An was still a major Asian trading port, attracting merchants from all across the globe – France, Portugal, and the Netherlands mingled with Japan, China, Thailand, India and Vietnam.

The gate of Hoi An Museum of History & Culture

The museum offers a full display of the objects through the years of Hoi An’s history like ceramics and pottery items, historical photographs and drawings. Visiting the museum also gives you a look at the influence of Cham culture in the central region of Vietnam.

 

  • Location: 13 Nguyen Hue Street
  • Opening Hours: 8:00 – 17:00
Tan Ky Old House

Tan Ky Old House

Tan Ky Old House at no.101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street is a brilliant example of the architecture of 18th merchant’s residence in Hoi An. The name “Tan Ky” expresses the wish of the owner for a more prosperous business just like any merchant that used to live on the streets of this town. House’s decoration represents an oriental philosophy with triple-beam structure, five round blocks, many distichs….

Fujian Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Phuc Kien)

Fujian Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Phuc Kien)

Built by merchants from Fujian, the assembly hall is a gathering place of Chinese community in Hoi An back in the day. Just look at how grand and colorful the architecture and decoration are, you can easily imagine the merry, busy atmosphere of the hall during its heyday. Typical mythological figures of Chinese culture in the very impressive courtyard will catch your eyes from the very first moments.
Nowadays, local people come to Fujian Assembly Hall to wish for children. There are also 12 ‘midwives’ figures on the ground of the Hall.

 

  • Location: 46 Tran Phu Street
The Japanese Covered Bridge

Dated back to 18th century, Japanese Covered Bridge is the iconic construction of Hoi An which was featured on the 20,000dong. Built by the Japanese merchants living in Hoi An back in the day, the bridge was made to connect the Japanese quarter with the Chinese quarter. The most important features of Japanese Covered Bridge are the sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys, representing the birth years of prominent Japanese Emperors.

 

  • Location: West end of Tran Phu Street.

Photo: Richie Chan

To visit the town’s attractions (assembly halls, old houses) you should buy a package ticket:

  • 80,000VND for domestic tourists (3 attractions)
  • 120,000VND for foreign tourists (6 attractions)

2. Get some perspectives in Hoi An Rooftop coffee

Needless to say, Hoi An is the apple of visitor’ eyes. The ancient town in central Vietnam steals the hearts of visitors with a calm and genuine atmosphere that naturally flows through lines of rustic yellow houses standing humbly side by side, challenging a world of rapid change. 

 

Honestly, one of the coolest ways to soak in Hoi An is to see it from above. If you’re a photographer, this is a no brainer, but photographers are often experts at seeking out novel perspectives. The best way to view the different perspectives of the city is to simply wander Old Town and to snag a seat at a rooftops coffeeshop. 

 

When it comes to rooftop coffee house, the rooftops at Faifo Coffee and The Chef Café are a great choice.

 

Make your way to these rooftops to discover Hoi An from another perspective, because sometimes, you should stand back and take a look at the whole picture to find out how each and every single piece plays its part in the mosaic. 

When should I visit Hoi An? What is Hoi An weather?

Typical for the tropical climate of Vietnam, Hoi An city possesses warm weather the whole year with its average temperature of 29 Degree Celsius. The city only has two main seasons: rainy and dry seasons instead of four seasons like in Northern Vietnam.

 

Hoi An’s dry season from February to May is the best time to visit the town, since its weather becomes very mild and beautiful with moderate temperature, low humidity, less rain and warm sunshine
If you are lucky enough to arrive at the town on the 14th day of a lunar month, Hoi An will be much more charming with its Full Moon Festival and “Old Street Night” exclusively available on that day.

3. Hire a Bicycle and See the Countryside

A worthwhile break away from the bustling tourist attractions is a peaceful cycle through Hoi An’s tranquil countryside. It’s a haven amongst white sand beaches and rice paddies. Perfect for restoring some zen after the frantic excitement of the Old Town. The first step is to hire a bike,  almost as easy as finding lunch! It’s hard to walk ten minutes without seeing a sign offering a rentable steed. However, make sure it’s a trusty one too by checking the tires and riding it around a few times. Fixed gear bikes are everywhere but mountain bikes are more limited.

4. Explore Hoi An Nightlife

Hoi An at night is just magical and atmospheric as it can be, especially on the 14th night of lunar month when all the electric lights are turned off and the lanterns are lit. The reflections of the river sets the whole town aglow. 

Enjoy the delicious food at Hoi An

Stroll the streets of Hoi An, you can easily find vendors and stalls selling food on the sidewalks. Or come to the night food market of Hoi An which is located right next to Japanese Covered Bridge. It’s the perfect place to enjoy both the delicacies and the bustling atmosphere of Hoi An.

*Tips:

  • Ask the prices before sitting down the vendors’ stalls
  • Choose the stalls with most locals sitting at, they must be good

Your Hoi An Food List includes: Cao Lau, Spring Rolls, Wonton, Chicken Rice, Quang Noodles, Xi Ma, Kem Ong and Corn Sweet Soup. The prices for these dishes are cheap.

Hoi An Memories Show
  • Experience what it’s like to live in Hoi An by visiting the themed villages that represent its 400-year-old history
  • Be amazed by the world’s largest outdoor show that features more than 500 performers!
  • Enjoy different performances of the Hon Viet Show in Da Nang’s Nguyen Hien Dinh Theatre which includes a lithopone performance of ‘The Origin’, a monochord solo performance, and more
Stroll Hoi An’s night market

On the An Hoi island, the night market of Hoi An is the highlight of Hoi An’s nightlife. Hosting bog crowds of both locals and tourists, the night market is the place for shopping and trying Hoi An’s delicacies. All kinds of products are displayed on the trolleys and tables along the sidewalks such as handicraft items, clothes, accessories, bracelets, necklaces and especially lanterns.

This is also a paradise of street food where you can find the best snacks of Hoi An: water fern cakes, sweet mango cakes, stick ice cream, Banh Mi, Thai crepe, and more.

 

*Tips:

  • On weekend nights, the night markets can be so crowded. Beware of your surroundings and keep your belongings in front and close to your body.
  • Try bargain for the lanterns, you can pay about 75% of the price the seller quoted.
  • Opening hours: 5:00PM – 11:00PM.
Ride a boat on Thu Bon River and put the flower lanterns down on the water

This activity is a favorite thing to do for many travelers to Hoi An which you can experience in nowhere else in Vietnam. When the night falls, you can walk along glimmering streets of the old town and find the little girls holding baskets full of flower lanterns. One flower lantern cost between 5,000VND and 10,000VND. You can just lit and hold the lanterns and come near to the riverbanks to put them down on the river. Or pay 20,000VND to sit on a small boat paddling along the river. Don’t forget to make a wish after releasing the lanterns.

Bars/Pubs/Live Music in Hoi An town

Hoi An might not be as active as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City at night but it has its own charms with quite a number of atmospheric bars and live music restaurants for you to enjoy the drinks and music from local artists. There is a long list of places to enjoy the night:

  • Tam Tam Café – 2nd Floor, 110 Nguyen Thai Hoc
  • Before and Now Bar – 51 Le Loi Street, Hoi An
  • Restaurant Café 96 – 96 Bach Dang Town Centre
  • White Marble Wine Bar – 98 Le Loi Street
  • Q Bar Hoi An – 94 Nguyen Thai Hoc Str.
  • The Hill Station: 321 Nguyen Duy Hieu Str.

5. Walk Over The Japan Bridge

Also known in Vietnamese as Cầu Nhật Bản, Japan Bridge is a particular example of a wooden bridge designed in Japanese style. It is about 60 feet in length and is decorated in a long-faded red with the pagoda located within the actual bridge. Tourists could traverse the bridge and then go to Cau Pagoda (Chùa Cầu) in order to view slabs of monuments or an assortment of stone with inscriptions named Steles. This bridge has been officially reconstructed over time and is surrounded by ancient tombs in Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese styles. Here, you will find four major statues of two monkeys and two dogs flanking the bridge.

6. Enjoy Regional Cuisine Of Hoi An

When it comes to things to do in Hoi An, maybe one of the most favorite activities loved by a large number of tourists are enjoying the local cuisine. The regional cuisine around Hoi An is delicious and unique. It is recommended to try it out by a lot of experienced tourists. Hoi An owns an electric, perfect mix of restaurants, so there are plenty of dining options for you to choose. For example, you can look for Cao Lau on the menu, a noodle soup which is not like Pho or any other soup in Vietnam. Despite Hoi An has both well-known and budget eateries where you could try a lot of dishes and specialties, experienced tourists often recommend people to come to Streets Restaurant Coffee. This is a restaurant that not only serves up tasty food but also is a social enterprise helping disadvantaged youth to learn and develop new skills as well as solid experiences in working and socializing.

7. Visit Hoi An Silk Village

Hoi An is famous for a lot of traditional villages and one of them is Hoi An Silk village. Silk weaving traditions were preserved well in Hoi An over many centuries. Situated down the street from the center of Hoi An, this village offers visitors a unique, but interesting experience of learning the whole production of silk, from silkworm to practical dressmaking. Also, it has some restaurants which serve local cuisines of Quang Nam (Quảng Nam) province along with a showroom of the best collections of silk. Thus, if you are willing to learn something new about Hoi An’s culture, add this village to your list of things to do in Hoi An.

8. Learn to cook Vietnamese food

Hoi An is known for having a number of cooking schools where you can get stuck in and learn all about how to make some local dishes.

 

One of the more famous schools is the Gioan Restaurant and Cooking School and you can choose between either ordering something to eat here in the restaurant or you can sign up for a class.

 

These usually include a trip to the local market where you will learn all about the ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking and some of the dishes that you will get to prepare include pho noodles as well as spring rolls and banh xeo which is a kind of Vietnamese pancake.

9. Shop For a Custom-Made Suit or Dress

Pho Bo Vietnamese Soup with Beef

Feeling like shopping? If you must pick a place for splurging on clothes, shoes and bags, make it Hoi An, Vietnam. There is an endless number of tailor shops (over 400!) , so many that you really won’t know which one to choose, so this is really a must do in Hoi An.

 

Some of the shops are really cheap, but remember that you usually get what you pay for. I’ve asked around and these seem to be the best tailor shops in Hoi An when it comes to good quality and reasonable prices:

 

BeBe: It started as a small family business and expanded to the point where BeBe is one of the most famous shops in Hoi An. Bebe has 3 showrooms in town, where you’ll be greeted with cordiality. You’ll notice teh attention to the details right away. The prices are very reasonable too. [11 Hoang Dieu St. Hoi An,  open 8am to 9.30pm every day].

 

Yaly Couture: This is probably the most expensive tailor shop in Hoi An, but if you’re looking for the highest quality, Yaly Couture is where you want to go. The tailors are highly skilled and will be able to make very elaborated items. Yaly Couture has 4 showrooms in town. [47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An Town, open 8am to 9.30pm every day]

 

Bao Khan Silk: Once featured in The Sunday Time Travel as the best tailor shop in all of Vietnam, Bao Khan Silk provides good quality and it’s also incredibly cheap! You can even find dresses for $20 here! So, this shop is definitely worth a visit. [101 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phường Minh An, Hội An, open 9am to 9pm every day].

10. Go For a Day-Trip to the My Son Ruins

My Son sunset

One of the great things about Vietnam is the fact that this part of the world has an incredibly rich history. In fact, you’re never too far away from some amazing ruins, and if you’re staying in Hoi An, it would be a shame to miss out on one of the most spectacular sites in the country: the My Son ruins.

 

This complex of abandoned Hindu temples dates back to the fourth century, and for hundreds of years it was the temple of choice for the kings of the Champa dynasty, as well as the final resting place for many of them.

 

While it’s not as well known as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, My Son is very much the Vietnamese equivalent, and the sense of peace and tranquility to be found here is something that will stay with you for a very long time.

 

Sadly, a significant chunk of the architecture at My Son was destroyed by carpet bombing during the Vietnam War, but the remaining ruins are still a sight to be beheld. Best of all, the site is only about an hour away from Hoi An, so a visit to the ruins it’s definitely one of the best day trips from Hoi An.

 

The easiest way to tour the ruins, and the one I suggest, is definitely joining a tour. Luckily, there are million options out there to visit them. You can join a classic (and super affordable) half-day tour, or get up at 4.30am for watching sunrise over the countryside and visit My Son before the crowds arrive.

 

Other cool tours to My Son include:

 

If you are staying in Da Nang, some Hoi An tours also include a visit to My Son: highly recommended.

11. Experience Scuba Diving

Because East Sea is a popular place for scuba diving as well as other types of underwater activities, so you may not want to miss your opportunity of seeing the beauty of underwater life with your eyes. Go to the Cham (Chàm) Island Diving Center, about 30 km away from Hoi An, and book a speedboat tour to Cham Island for snorkeling and scuba diving activities. There are different activity packages for all types of divers, with various preferences and experiences available.

Suggested tour:

You can try this wonderful tour to go snorkeling in the waters around Cham Island and discover its amazing sea life. Then enjoy a traditional Vietnamese seafood lunch.

 

SEE ALSO: Best Boutique Hotel in Hoi An

Hidden Hoi An Walking Tour

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Cham Islands Day Tour

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My Son Sanctuary Day Tour from Hoi An

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Hoi An Memories Show

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A O Show Ticket in Hoi An

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