A visit to Hoi An in Vietnam will make any traveller feel like they have gone back in time to another world. This town is magical, delightful, full of beautiful architecture, nature and people. Hoi An Old Town is full of colourful buildings, hanging lanterns, and winding paved laneways filled with Chinese-styled small shops and houses. If enjoyed my stay and here is my list of things to do in Hoi An.
Hoi An ancient town
Hoi An has been converted towards tourism after Hoi An Ancient Town was given UNESCO World Heritage Status, therefore a lot of the culture and heritage has been replaced in the town with shops aimed at the tourist market. Restaurants catering to any preference of cuisine can easily be found, as can souvenir shops, art galleries and the many clothing tailor shops are plentiful.
How to Get to Hoi An
Hoi An does not have an airport (or a train station) although the nearby city of Da Nang does have an airport catering to domestic flights from Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam Airlines and VietJet Air), and only a few international flights from Bangkok, Singapore, and Siem Reap. A taxi will cost around US$22 dollars from the Da Nang Airport to Hoi An.
There are buses to Hoi An, and if travelling with an open ticket, Hoi An is one destination I highly recommend you choose to visit. If coming from Nha Trang, expect a 9-10 hour trip (this is usually done overnight), and if coming from the North, Hue is around a 4-hour trip.
Depending on what company you have gone with, you can be dropped at either a travel agent or the bus stop. If travelling by public bus, there is a bus station in the old town itself, as well as one that is approximately 2km north of the city.
If dropped off at a bus stop and you are not sure of direction or are at the bus stop a little out of the centre, it is only too easy to get a tuk-tuk, taxi or bike taxi to take you to the centre of town, and from there you can easily get your bearings or ask for directions (Hoi An is quite small, full of tourists and the locals all speak English very well so you’ll have no problem if you get lost).
Exploring the Streets
Things to Do in Hoi An – Transport
Hoi An is best explored on foot, and by bicycle. You can easily hire a bicycle for US$2 a day and reach Hoi Ans beach, markets, temples, and some of the more remote hotels. And don’t stress, Hoi An has very minimal traffic, so you won’t be weaving through crazy wild traffic as you would on a bicycle in Ho Chi Minh City.
There are also motorbike rentals in Hoi An and these are also very easily found, BUT please remember that wearing a helmet is the law in Vietnam, unlike other countries, you can be fined around US$80 and have the motorbike confiscated. So, remember that helmet! There are also motorbike taxis and a small number of car taxis in the town (these can usually be found around the middle of Le Loi St, and I am sure any hotel or hostel would be fine to call you one if preferred.
Unesco Old Town
Certain historical sites in Hoi An old town (UNESCO Site), such as a museum, old house, hall, handicraft workshop, traditional theatre, the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Quan Cong Temple require a ticket to enter. Visitors to the town will have to purchase a ticket that allows individuals to visit five of these attractions, and this costs around US$6.
It is requested to dress respectfully at these sites, so throw a t-shirt on over your bikini if you are planning to hit the beach at An Bang after seeing the historical sites.
Japanese Covered Bridge
This bridge is easily seen if you head towards the riverfront, and was built in the early 1600s by the Japanese community. You will notice that there is a pig statue at one end of the bridge, and a dog statue at the other, and these were created to stand guard of the bridge.
Museum of Folk Culture
This museum is worth a look if you have any interest in the history or culture of Vietnam. It houses some strange plaster sculptures and focuses on the traditional clothing and culture of rural Vietnam.
Thu Bon River cruise takes around an hour and costs approximately US$5. This is a nice option at sunset. A visit to Tra Que Village is also a nice option if looking for cycling tours, cooking classes, or just wanting to experience Vietnam farming life. The Village is approximately 2kms from Hoi An town. Grab a map or ask a local for directions if riding a bicycle there, or simply catch a motorbike taxi.
For the scuba divers out there, Cham Island Diving operates in Hoi An and takes divers, snorkellers, or those looking for a boat tour, out to Cham Island.
Clothing, Suits, Dresses, Jackets, Make to Measure, Tailors
For those who love to shop, or are simply looking to add some pieces to the wardrobe back home, there are many tailors in Hoi An, all looking for business and visitors can haggle with the shop owners, browse through the many stores, or have clothing made to their measurements or specific preferences.
A few girls staying at the same hotel as I was had planned ahead, and brought magazine cut-outs from their home country, with dresses and jackets that they wanted copied. This is a good idea if you have seen a high fashion piece in a magazine but would never pay the high price tag for the clothing item (because you are saving to travel Vietnam, thats why!), you can simply get a copy of the specific piece made to measure for a fraction of the price !
There are many restaurants aimed at tourists, with most cuisines catered to. Cheaper restaurants in the Old Town can be found, with meals from US$1, as well as more expensive restaurants with prices around $3-7. Indian, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Vegetarian, Vegan, Bakeries, Australian Steaks and French restaurants can all be found in Hoi An Central. There are many pubs along the riverfront, with beer and cocktail prices much cheaper than western bars.
Another option for food is to head to the local market. Here you will find heaps of fruit, vegetables, as well as many types of raw meat and fish being cut up right in front of you! I can recommend eating at Vy’s Market Restaurant & Cooking School, they do an amazing range of food.
Most of the accommodation is around Hai Ba Trung St and Cua Dai Street. Although many high-end hotels are found along the beach around Cua Dai Beach (which is around 5kms away from Hou An. As I always recommend and do myself, is to look up trip advisor, and read some of the reviews to see what accommodation options suit your needs. You can expect to pay around US$5-US$10 for a dorm bed or a private small hotel room with an ensuite.
Hoi An has a magical and peaceful atmosphere, biking the cobblestone roads around the beautiful buildings and under coloured lanterns that pass over the traffic, you will find yourself with a smile on your face, the wind through your hair, waving and saying hello to the locals as your pass by. Bliss.