9 Things to Do in Hoi An, Vietnam – A Complete Hoi An Guide
If you’re heading to Hoi An in Vietnam soon, I hope you’re ready for a real adventure! Scroll down to find my recommended list of things to do in Hoi An, as well as a complete Hoi An guide that includes the best accommodation options for all types of travellers, as well as the best places to eat and precious information about how to get around the city – and more!
Hoi An (Hội An) is a charming town located on the central coast of Vietnam and an underrated tourist destination – that’s if you ask me, of course. Stepping into Hoi An is like stepping into another world. In fact, it’s more like stepping back in time to when there were no skyscrapers, electronics and traffic full of cars. Old temples, a Japanese bridge, An Bang beach, night markets… Hoi An has it all – and my heart, too!
There is a simplicity to Hoi An. And this simplicity creates a charm and magic that make this town the most loved destination in all of Vietnam.
Are you ready to find out everything you need to know about the best things to do in Hoi An? Let’s get going:
9 Best things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam
There are countless unique things to do in Hoi An, but I did my best and made a special selection below with some of the most exciting places and activities that turned my vacation into an unforgettable experience:
1 - Hoi An Old Town
Hoi An Old Town is one of the most special places in this town – and in all of Vietnam, if you ask me. The reason is pretty simple: the Old Town of Hoi An wasn’t bombarded during the Vietnam War, so all the beautiful, ancient buildings are still well-preserved here. Taking a walk around Hoi An Ancient Town is a top activity here; while you’re there, take your time and admire the unique architecture of this place and maybe stop for a coffee in one of the numerous coffee places. By the way, did you know that Hoi An Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
2 - Hoi An Central Market
If you’ll take a stroll down the banks of the Thu Bon River, you’ll discover one of the gems of the city right there: I’m talking about Hoi An local market, of course, also known as Chợ Hội An! This is a great place to buy some handmade souvenirs to bring back home to your loved ones. You’ll find everything you wish for there, from silk dresses to spices and, of course, a lot of amazing street food stalls!
TIP #1: The best time to visit is after 8 PM when there are fewer crowds around.
TIP #2: If you have the time, make sure to visit Hoi An Night Market as well!
3 - Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge is one of the most interesting Hoi An attractions in the centre of the city. Its ornaments are simply stunning and it’s the perfect place to take some superb photos!
TIP #1: If you want to enter the bridge, you’ll need a Hoi An Old Town Ticket – a basic ticket worth 120.000 VND (5,20$). This was created as an initiative to preserve the old, precious buildings of this city – you’ll often be required to present it when entering parts of the historic centre, so it’s best to have it on you at all times. You can buy it at numerous attractions throughout the centre of the city.
TIP #2: If you’re already close to the Japanese Bridge, make sure to visit Phung Hung Old House as well, as they’re very close to each other!
4 - Fujian Assembly Hall / Phuc Kien
This gorgeous building (spoiler alert: it’s PINK!) dates from the 17th century and it’s one of the most beautiful things to see in Hoi An. It’s actually a sacred place built by the Fujian Chinese community and it has a gorgeous gate full of carvings of Chinese figures.
Fujian Assembly Hall entrance fee: you can enter using your Hoi An Old Town Ticket (more info above).
RELATED READ: 12 Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – A Complete Guide
5 - My Son Sanctuary
Okaaay, I’m cheating a bit here (but it’s worth it!), as My Son Sanctuary is not technically inside Hoi An, but a bit outside of it. No worries, nothing that can’t be managed during a day trip from the city. Why am I saying that My Son Ruins are worth visiting (despite the weird name, lol)? Well, because this sanctuary hosts beautiful, ancient temples dating from the 4th to the 13th century – that’s a LONG time ago! Plus, My Son ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so if this doesn’t convince you, then you just need to take a look at some pictures!
My Son Sanctuary entrance fee: 150,000 VND (6,50 US$). I recommend visiting with an organised tour and a professional guide so that you can learn the history.
RELATED READ: Da Nang Marble Mountain, Vietnam – Everything You Need to Know Before You Go
6 - Get tailor-made clothes just for you
This is SUCH a thing to do in Hoi An! Vietnam is well-known for its textile industry and going back home with a custom made suit or dress might just be the highlight of your trip!
The process is pretty simple and fun: you’ll first have to find the ideal tailor for you and your needs (some of them are more expensive, with high-quality materials, while others offer more regular services), show them the item you want made (Pinterest boards are ideal for inspiration!), pick your fabrics, get fitted (so the final piece will perfectly suit your body and preferences) and then pick up your custom-made items.
When I was in Hoi An, I actually had 3 identical dresses made across 3 different tailors of different budgets, as a fun little experiment. It was a very interesting experience seeing how the quality varied! If you want to read more about it, I recommend checking out this post.
7 - Beaches near Hoi An
I know I said that Hoi An is a superb ancient town, but let’s not forget that it’s also located on the coast of Vietnam, which can only mean one thing: cool beaches! Sunbathing! Fun in the water! Yep, all of the above is possible, and you’re even spoiled with choices when it comes to Hoi An, as there are more than a couple of beaches to choose from. Here are two of the best options:
8 - Hoi An’s countryside and the rice paddies
If you ever get bored of roaming around the city, head over to the rice paddy fields near Hoi An for a taste of traditional Vietnam!
The best way to visit the rice paddies is by renting a bike. There are many little paths that you can take while exploring the area, and you’ll quickly see that there are also lots of buffalos around the fields that you cycle through. We even made friends with a super friendly one and I got a buffalo ride (don’t even ask… travelling Vietnam was an unforgettable experience, haha!). If you’re up for a longer ride, you can even arrive at An Bang beach at the end of Hai Ba Trung Street for a complete experience in Hoi An.
Alternatively, you can visit with a guided tour such as this 5-hour small group countryside tour. It includes the Japanese Bridge and some local food tasting as well!
RELATED READ: Travel Guide to Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Tours VS Visiting By Yourself
9 - Hoi An Lantern Festival
Compared to other festivals around the world, Hoi An Lantern Festival has one amazing perk: it takes place once every month, on a specific day. The dates differ each month, so I recommend checking the upcoming events here.
I think this is one of the most fun things to do in Hoi An and a unique activity; in fact, many travellers visit the town only for this festival! The lantern festival takes place in the Old Town when hundreds of candle lit lanterns are released into the water.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget your camera for this one!
BONUS: Extra things to do in Hoi An
Except for the 7 Hoi An tourist attractions above, here are some extra things to add to your itinerary if you have more time:
- Quan Cong Temple – pretty Chinese temple that stands as an example for the different cultural influences of Hoi An;
- Take a cooking class and learn about traditional Vietnamese cuisine – Vietnamese cuisine is one of the richest and most delicious in the world, so why not spend a couple of hours cooking some authentic dishes? There are so many good cooking classes out there!
- Get a Vietnamese massage – perfect way to relax at the end of a full day exploring the city;
- Hoi An Museum – if you’re a history lover, here you’ll learn a lot of things about this charming town;
- Hoi An Silk Village – this place is not located in the city centre, but it’s well worth getting there (it’s in Quang Nam, no more than 1km from the Old Town) if you want to learn more about silk weaving and the local artisans;
- Tan Ky Family House – historically speaking, this is one of the most important buildings in the city, with beautiful Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese architecture and antique furniture;
- Explore the nightlife of An Hoi – Hoi An… An Hoi… I think things can get a bit confusing here, right? No, I didn’t misspell anything – An Hoi is a small island right near Hoi An, where Hoi An Night Market is located and it’s also known as the nightlife hotspot sound the area;
- Lantern Market – a cute, colourful market where you can buy different types of lanterns. For a small fee, you can pose within the lanterns for a photo;
- Tra Que Village – Go there to indulge in yummy exotic fruits and vegetables, right from the source;
- Day trip to Da Nang – located only 45 minutes away from Hoi An, this large city offers plenty of things to do and see and a unique mix of traditional and modern. If you’re interested, I recommend my dedicated article: 10 Unmissable Da Nang Tourist Attractions
- Marble Mountains – another day trip idea close to Da Nang – 5 limestone and marble mountains with natural caves and temples. I’m telling you all about this place here: Da Nang Marble Mountain – Everything You Need to Know Before You Go
Best tours of Hoi An by type of traveller
If your bucket list for Hoi An is becoming longer and longer after reading this article and you want to make sure you don’t miss anything interesting from your itinerary, I got you! You don’t have to stress over creating the ideal trip – a great way to visit all the highlights of Hoi An is to book some tours of the city where you’ll be guided by a professional guide. It’s a win-win situation! Here are some of the best options I could find:
- Hoi An walking tour in the Old Town – for those that want to see the highlights;
- Free bike tour of Hoi An – for backpackers and those on a budget;
- Market Tour, Basket Boat Ride and Cooking Class – for travellers that want to get a glimpse of Vietnamese rural life;
- Local cooking class – for foodies interested in learning how to cook authentic traditional dishes;
- Sunset dinner cruise – for all the romantics out there;
- Day trip to Cham Islands – for active travellers that want to do some snorkelling.
Where to stay in Hoi An, Vietnam
It’s not hard to find a nice place to stay in Hoi An, no matter what your budget is. The trick is to look for a place that’s near the places that you want to visit. And the most popular and best area to stay in Hoi An is, of course, the Old Town.
What’s great about Hoi An is that you actually have the option to either stay near the historical sites or by the beach. Either way, you’ll surely have the most amazing time! Here’s my list of the best hotels in Hoi An:
BIG SPLURGE: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An
BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Lantana Hoi An Boutique Hotel and Spa
BUDGET: Sun Paradise Villa
HOSTEL: Tribee Ede
ENTIRE APARTMENT: Bespoke Villa Hoi An
Best restaurants in Hoi An & what to eat
When it comes to food, Hoi An is THE place to be! It’s well-known that Vietnamese food is bursting with amazing flavours, so you absolutely cannot leave this town (or country) without sampling some of their most popular dishes. Here is my list of the best food in Hoi An, together with the places where you’ll find their best versions:
Eating Banh Mi is a complete must-do in Hoi An! Hoi An has some of the best shops that serve this dish in the entire country – a baguette filled with meats and vegetables. Banh Mi Phoung and The Banh Mi Queen are two of the places in Hoi An where you’ll find the best Banh Mi (the authentic version, of course).
You can’t visit Hoi An city without trying the famous Cao Lau, a hearty noodle dish with Char Siu pork or shrimp, bean sprouts, fresh greens and local herbs. You can find this dish in most stalls in Hoi An, but we sampled ours at a local place called Thanh Cao Lau, which still follows the traditional way of making this dish.
WHITE ROSE DUMPLINGS
Named because of their resemblance to the flower, the white rose dumplings, also known as Banh Bao Banh Vac, are another must-try in Hoi An. They are made with rice flour and stuffed with a shrimp filling and you can enjoy them on many stalls around the Central Market Hoi An. But if you want a truly authentic experience, dine at White Rose Restaurant – the place where these dumplings originally came from!
OTHER MUST-TRY VIETNAMESE DISHES: egg coffee (more like a custard dessert than a coffee, don’t get scared!), spring rolls, Banh Xeo.
Getting around Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is not a big town, and all of its top attractions are located inside or super close to the Old Town. Which can only mean one thing, my friends! Getting around the city can be easily done by walking or by biking. If you opt for biking, make sure to ask your hotel first; often they offer free bikes so you’ll save some money this way!
HOW TO GET TO HOI AN:
Sadly, Hoi An doesn’t have its own airport, but don’t be sad! You can easily reach this town if you fly to Da Nang Airport, then take the public bus for 1 US$ (45-minute ride). Or you can take a taxi. Or a private transfer.
All right you guys, this was my COMPLETE Hoi An travel guide! As I mentioned at the beginning of this article (and I’m sure that I’ve 100% convinced you by now), Hoi An has something to offer to all types of travellers out there. Regardless if you choose to get some custom made dresses made or if you just want to lay on An Bang beach, indulge in yummy food, light some lanterns at the festival, take a Vietnamese cooking class or spend your night exploring a local market, Hoi An is your destination.
Hoi An may be an incredible place in Vietnam, but it’s not the only worthy destination in the country. If you want to read more about my adventures in this incredible country, I recommend checking out all my articles here.