20 Best Things to do in Hoi An – Historic Vietnam
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20 Best Things to do in Hoi An – Historic Vietnam

Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that blends history, culture, and natural beauty and is a must-visit if you are traveling to Vietnam. This charming town offers a unique experience with its lantern-lit old town, tasty street foods, specialty coffees, and lively markets. We have created the ultimate guide including things to do when visiting Hoi An, the best time and how to get here, ensuring you make the most out of your trip.

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Things to do in Hoi An

We cannot wait for you to explore Hoi An - hope you will love it as much as we did! So without further delay, let’s look at the best things to do in Hoi An:

1. Explore Hoi An Ancient Town

The main attraction in Hoi An is the Ancient Town or Old Town. Here you can wander through the historic buildings lined with colorful lanterns. You can find several tailor shops, cafes, dining spots and opportunities for shopping here. For a more romantic charm, walk around the Ancient Town at night where you'll find lanterns being placed along the river, producing some magical views.

Technically, a ticket is necessary to explore the Ancient Town of Hoi An and is valid for 24 hours. However, this is not enforced, and in reality just about every tourist will buy a single ticket for the duration of their stay. This ticket comes with 5 entry tickets to a number of historic sites, so if you use up your 5 entries then you'll have to buy another Old Town Ticket. They cost 120,000 VND ($5 USD) and can be purchased in person from a number of booths in the area.

Some spots in the Old Town of Hanoi that you shouldn't miss include traditional houses such as Tan Ky House and Duc An House; Hội quán Quảng Đông (Cantonese Assembly Hall), Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien (Fukien Assembly Hall), Quan Cong Temple, Chùa Pháp Bảo (Bảo Pagoda), and the iconic Gong Chua Ba Mu (Ba Mu Temple Gates) to name a few. To help you further plan your trip, check out their website for any upcoming events, points of interest and to view the sightseeing map.

2. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge

Cau Pagoda, also known as the Japanese Covered Bridge, is one of the most famous attractions of the city. Built by the Japanese businessmen starting in the 17th century, it is one of the symbols of Hoi An and displays of a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese culture.

3. Hoi An Traditional Art Performance House

Performers dancing at a cultural show in Museum of Folk Culture or Bảo tàng Văn hoá Dân, one of the things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam
Museum of Folk Culture (Bảo tàng Văn hoá Dân), Hoi An

Your visit to the Ancient Town will not be complete without watching a traditional performance. Shows are everyday at 10:15 AM, 3:15 PM, and 4:15 PM at the Museum of Folk Culture or Bảo tàng Văn hoá Dân with no additional fee. Make sure to be early to get a good seat and to partake in a quick game that they do during each show.

4. Hoi An Night Market

Located on Nguyen Hoang Street, this bustling market comes alive after sunset. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, sample street food, and shop for souvenirs and local handicrafts. Escape the hustle and bustle for a minute to sit by the nearby Bon Thu river to watch the colourful boats and lanterns pass by.

5. Shop for Tailored Clothes

One of the things that surprised us in Hoi An is the number of tailor shops offering custom made clothing - it's one of the best destinations in the world to do so. Some people even travel to Hoi An for their special events (like weddings) to get high quality tailoring at a fraction of the cost. There are several tailor shops around - Tuong Tailor, A Dong Silk and Bebe Taylor to name a few. We got 2 suits and a trench coat for our spring trip to Japan.

6. Enjoy a traditional coffee at Faifo

cake with egg coffee at Faifo Coffee, one of the things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam
Faifo Coffee, Hoi An

Vietnam is known for their coffee and having traveled to Costa Rica and Indonesia prior, we didn’t expect it to be any different - but the coffee game in Vietnam is really something else! Vietnam not only has quality beans, but the recipes are unlike anywhere else - coconut coffee, egg coffee, and cacao cream coffees were all incredible. Faifo Coffee is one of our favourite cafés in all of Vietnam.

7. Banh Mi at Madam Khanh

Banh Mi with meat and vegetables in Madam Khanh, one of the things to do in Hoi An, Vietnam
Banh Mi Madam Khanh, Hoi An

Banh Mi is the Vietnamese baguette sandwich, with Hoi An’s version being particularly famous. Depending on your preferred flavor, it usually has meat, coriander, pickled carrot, etc. Madam Khanh’s Banh Mi is a local recommendation and is a great, quick snack while in the Ancient Town. They have a small dining area perfect for you to sit down and have a quick rest. Not only do they taste incredible, but they cost around $2 USD.

8. Try Local Hoi An Cuisine

Speaking of food, take your foodie spirit beyond Banh Mi and try local delicacies at renowned eateries and street vendors throughout the town. Here are some of the other must-try dishes:

  • Cao Lau: Hội An's regional dish; noodle soup with a rich broth, slices of pork, and fresh greens.
  • White Rose Dumplings: Delicate shrimp dumplings shaped like roses.
  • Com Ga (Chicken Rice): A flavorful dish of rice cooked in chicken broth, served with shredded chicken, herbs, and a savory sauce.

If you wanted to take a step further, why not join a cooking class or a coffee-making class?

9. Relax at An Bang Beach

One of the best spots to visit is An Bang Beach. You can enjoy the sandy coast of this beach after a day of exploring or take a day off for a relaxing day by the water.

10. Enjoy a cultural show at Memories Land Hoi An

The first cultural theme park in Vietnam, Memories Land, is a journey back in time with performances depicting the early days in Vietnam and the former kingdom of Champa, and how Hoi An became the hub for trade in Central Vietnam. It's honestly a show like no other - more than 500 performers are involved in putting on this spectacle on its outdoor stage.

The park opens at 4 PM and the show starts at 8 PM, but there are several mini shows around, several dining and shopping spots. If you are booking online, take advantage of the several package options.

11. Feel the excitement in Teh Dar

When in Hoi An, another show that you can’t miss is Teh Dar. It is set in a bamboo dome-shaped theater in the heart of the Old Town. You will be grabbing at the edge of your seat for this thrilling bamboo acrobatic performance. Refreshments are provided prior to entry and taking videos and pictures are highly restricted. There is an opportunity to snap a photo with the performers at the end of the show. Book online as the show often sells out.

12. Take a Lantern-Making Workshop

For all our fellow creatives who want to take a piece of their work home, this is the activity for you. Join a workshop to learn the traditional craft of lantern-making, a beautiful symbol of Hoi An's culture.

We went to The Lantern Lady. You can simply walk in; there are several lantern options to choose from depending on the shape and size of the lantern you want to create. And the best part, the lantern is foldable and fits perfectly in your luggage. Cost of the lantern and the workshop is only $4-8 USD.

13. Take a free bike tour

Discover the countryside of Vietnam in this free 3-hour bike tour cycling through local villages and rice paddies to the carpentry village. Check out more details in this link: Hoi An Free Tours – Your Local Buddy

14. Take a day trip to Da Nang

If you are not staying in Da Nang, then it would be best to take a day trip and explore the area. Some of the best things to do in Da Nang are exploring the Marble Mountains, walking through the Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills and watching the fire show at Dragon Bridge. Check out our guide for all the best things to do in Da Nang.

15. Visit My Son Sanctuary

Located an hour from Hoi An, visit the My Son Sanctuary to learn more about the history of Vietnam and the former kingdom of Champa. My Son, which translates to “beautiful mountain” is an ancient Hindu temple complex and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit this place if you rent a motorbike or take a Grab, however it will be worth it to book it with a tour guide to better understand the remarkable history and cultural significance of the area.

16. Enjoy a Boat Ride on the Thu Bon River

Take a peaceful boat ride on the Thu Bon River, especially at sunset, to enjoy the scenic views and tranquil environment. You can find several locals offering boat rides, or you may find one offered in a package tour.

17. Take a Coconut Basket Boat Ride

Boat tour at coconut forest in Hoi An can be done from Da Nang
boat tour at coconut forest

You probably have seen this one on social media where you can ride a bamboo basket and be spun in circles until you're dizzy, but don't worry this is totally optional. Take a boat ride down the coconut forest enjoying the scenery and the vibe. Halfway of the boat ride, you will see people singing and dancing on their coconut basket boat. You can also try throwing a fishing net with a local fisherman.

You can go here by yourself and purchase an entrance ticket, or you can book it as a combination with Hoi An City Tour or a Vietnamese Cooking Class.

18. Visit Cam Kim Island

Only a short bike ride from the Old Town and after crossing Thu Bon river, you will reach Cam Kim Island. Have a glimpse of rural life, traditional crafts, and scenic bike rides away from the busy streets of Hoi An. You can check out this link to learn more: Hoi An Now | Attractions | Cam Kim Island

19. Spa and Wellness Treatments

Man sitting at the lobby of a spa in Hoi An
Hoi An Spa and Wellness

Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment or massage at one of Hoi An’s many wellness centers to unwind after a day of exploration (and shopping). You will find that there are plenty of spas offering a "happy hour" massage towards the end of the day. Truly every price tag you see in Vietnam is negotiable.

20. Experience Lantern Festival

If you're visiting during a full moon, don't miss the Lantern Festival, where the town is illuminated with colorful lanterns, creating a magical atmosphere.

Getting to Hoi An

Most people get to Hoi An from Da Nang International Airport (DAD) and then take a taxi or Grab for 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can reach Hoi An from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City by train, which takes around 16 hours.

How long to stay in Hoi An

We recommend staying for 5 days, though 3 would be enough to enjoy the city’s highlights. The best time to visit Hoi An is from February to April when the weather is warm and dry. May to August is also a good time, however these months are hotter than the prior months. The monsoon season from September to January can bring heavy rains and flooding, and few travelers opt to visit Vietnam during this season.

Where to Stay in Hoi An

Where to stay? Hoi An or Da Nang?

We stayed in both and our only regret is not staying longer! If you are only choosing one, it would be hard to decide. Both Hoi An and Da Nang are worth visiting and have their own unique attractions. Da Nang is a larger city with more to do, while Hoi An is a smaller historic town with more cultural appeal. If you are choosing to stay one over the other, you can always do a day trip to visit Da Nang or a day trip to visit Hoi An. You can also check out our guide to the things to do in Da Nang to help you decide.

If you are staying in Hoi An, here are our recommendations:

Sol An Bang Beach Resort & Spa - A beachfront hotel with cozy rooms and free breakfast. You can borrow bikes to explore the Ancient town or rent a motorbike.

Hari Villa - Casamia Hoi An - For a fancier stay, why not stay in a villa with view of the river and have your own kitchen and private pool? This is perfect for a big family or a group of friends.

Legend Charm Boutique Hoi An Hotel - This hotel located at Cam Nam Island is close to several attractions in the Old Town. It is a budget-friendly option and with an outdoor pool.

An Bang Stilt House Villa - A charming stay close to An Bang Beach and you can access the bikes for free to visit the Old Town.

Nam An Mama Villa Hoi An - A beautiful stay with garden and rooftop pool. Somewhat between An Bang Beach and the Old Town, you can conveniently reach both with their free bikes. The staff are friendly and gave a couple recommendations for our stay in Hoi An. And did I mention, we had one of the best Banh Mi here for (our free) breakfast? Yup.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, we hope that this guide helps you with your trip planning. Hoi An is more than just a destination; it’s an experience that will linger in your memory long after you leave. The charming Ancient Town, beautiful beaches, lively markets and delicious food, Hoi An is truly a place you would fall in love with. So pack your bags and get ready to explore this beautiful gem of Vietnam!

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