We had a chance to sit down with Ly, our favorite local guide in Hoi An. Enthusiastically, he gave us a list of the best things to do in Hoi An that he would give to any new expats he met in town. It’s a long list, yet worth keeping in your mind pocket along… Continue reading 15 Things to Do in Hoi An Revealed by Local Guide
We had a chance to sit down with Ly, our favorite local guide in Hoi An. Enthusiastically, he gave us a list of the best things to do in Hoi An that he would give to any new expats he met in town.
It’s a long list, yet worth keeping in your mind pocket along the trip. We luckily spent enough time exploring all of them in 5 days. Not just overwhelmed by the town’s tranquil beauty, we’re truly amazed by the local food, people, and history of Hoi An.
About 30 kilometers south of Da Nang city, there’s a charming ancient town with a history dating back over 2,000 years. Hoi An lies quietly in the central coast of Vietnam as a symbol of cultural overlap through international trading business.
It was once a major port in Southeast Asia. From the 15th to the 19th centuries, merchants from all over the world came here to trade in silk, spices, and other goods. The rich cultural exchange is reflected in Hoi An’s architecture, which is a unique blend of Vietnamese, French, Chinese, and Japanese styles.
Many more reasons turn Hoi An Ancient Town into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unsurprisingly, the city is a popular tourist destination today, known for its atmospheric streets, colorful lanterns, and sacred temples.
Visitors can wander the narrow roads, admire the well-preserved architecture, and shop for souvenirs in the local markets. Those are typical activities that one can do if he has only one or two days in Hoi An.
If you’re going to spend more time, below are the best things to do in Hoi An.
We describe Hoi An as the heart of Vietnam because it’s right at the country’s center and has been welcoming guests from afar for hundreds of years. The town wasn’t affected by wars and the 19th-century urbanization. It’s living and breathing authenticity until today.
You’ll get awed by this timeless beauty. Narrow streets, French-inspired yellow buildings, temples, colorful lanterns, bougainvillea trees, yin-yang rooftops, tranquilt rivers, boats, the smiles from people in town, etc. are all we love about Hoi An.
Though cycling in the Ancient Town would give you a dreamy sense of travel, it’s best to walk. Hoi An has a slow vibe that we bet you rarely feel in hustling cities like Ho Chi Minh or HaNoi.
Visiting heritages inside the Hoi An Ancient Town requires tickets. One such costs only VND 120,000 per visitor, and it allows you to visit up to five spots. To actually widen your horizon about the Ancient Town, going with a tour guide is highly recommended!
Sounds weird? Not at all.
Hoi An was the busiest port city in SEA, and many traders coming to the city were Chinese. Several of them settled down and built a community there.
The five Chinese Assemble Halls on Tran Phu Street are founded and run by different ethnic groups from China. The Fujian Assembly Hall is the most famous one you should look at.
It’s not just an assembly hall; it’s also a temple where the Fujian descendants practice their sacred beliefs. There, you’ll learn an important part of Hoi An culture through the spirituality and temple’s vibrant designs.
The Japanese Covered Bridge was made by the Japanese businessmen in Hoi An about five hundred years ago. It is a must visit for being the Hoi An’s symbol.
The bridge serves as a boundary between the Japanese and Chinese who lived in the town back then. People from both sides used it as a way to trade things and visit their business partners regardless of culture.
There’s also a temple atop to worship Bac De Tran Vu (the weather goddess). That’s why the bridge was later built with a cover above. From the bridge sees a vast scene of the night market across the Thu Bon river.
At this writing moment, the bridge is being restored. It seems that they need a few more years to complete it. Fortunately, visitors are allowed to enter to have a look. There are pictures displayed with enough information about the well-known bridge to learn.
Your Hoi An trip can start from here. You might get a bit overwhelmed by the noisy atmosphere and unfamiliar smells of the market. You’re surely impressed though.
There are many local markets in Hoi An, but the one next to the Ancient Town is the biggest hub for food. You can find just about any local food, ingredients, souvenirs, fashion items, etc. there.
Don’t forget to buy the tropical fruits from the Hoi An Market. They’re fresh and yummy. The retail prices are affordable as well.
Note: Bring your cash.
Looking to boost your morale during a trip that’s too peaceful? Come to the Cam Thanh Coconut Forest Village. It is about 5 km from the Ancient Town. You can go there by bike or car.
It looks like a typical area of nipa palm trees growing on a river. The village people’s spirits and fun activities make it a favorite destination.
You’ll enjoy paddling through the river forest by a round-shaped boat while drinking fresh coconut water. It doesn’t stop there. The boat rider will show you the traditional boat dance you’ve never seen or experienced before. (Tie your hair, ladies)
How long haven’t you caught the smell of paddies? Or, have you ever had that experience before?
As you leave the town behind, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by lush rice paddies. The narrow paths between the fields are perfect for cycling, and the pace is leisurely enough to allow you to take in all the sights and sounds.
You’ll see farmers working in the fields, water buffalo grazing peacefully, and birds soaring overhead. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few fishermen casting their nets in the ponds and canals.
Riding water buffaloes is worth experiencing as well — just ask any buffalo owner you spot along the way. They’re all friendly.
You can easily enter Hoi An’s breathtaking paddy fields from the Hai Ba Trung or Cua Dai street. Note that the paths are not wide enough for cars to go in.
As you explore the beauty of paddy fields, you can come to visit the Tra Que Vegetable Village. Spend more than one hour there and you’ll learn about Vietnamese farming.
Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by local farmers. They’ll give you a tour of the village and show you how they grow vegetables using traditional methods.
We bet you don’t know the names of some Vietnamese-popular vegetables you ate. In Tra Que, you’ll learn about them and the importance of organic farming.
After touring around, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in some hands-on activities. You can help to plough, plant, water, and harvest vegetables.
Take as many photos as you can. The sunlight and greenery in Tra Que are definitely helpful for creating vivid photos you’d love forever.
Tip: The Hoi An Countryside tour will give you an all-in-one experience for cycling to paddies, visiting the Tra Que Village and Cam Thanh Coconut Forest.
A local street food tour in Hoi An is a great way to experience the authentic flavors and culture of this charming Vietnamese town.
On a typical tour, you’ll visit a variety of street food stalls, sampling some of the most popular and delicious dishes such as Cao Lau, Banh Mi, Banh Can, Xi Ma, Che (Bean Soup), etc.
It’s not exaggerating when we say it’s a must to book a Hoi An street food tour with a local guide. You might know where to go with Google’s recommendations, but trust us, you wouldn’t know what’s really there when going by yourself.
Tired of walking around? Save this short list:
In fact, Hoi An has many restaurants specialized for oversea visitors. The list above includes places locals trust and visit regularly because of its quality and age. We went there. Felt like a true local!
Why damn not?
Eating alone isn’t enough to expand your culinary horizons. As you travel, you want to be practically involved in that brand new culture. Learning how to cook local dishes from local chefs is a good way to go.
Cooking classes in Hoi An are taught by experienced chefs who are passionate about their cuisine. They will teach you the secrets to making your favorite Hoi An dishes, as well as some basic Vietnamese cooking techniques.
They use the best fresh ingredients collected from the Tra Que Vegetable Village to create the dishes. This means that you’ll be tasting the best that Hoi An has to offer.
After your cooking class, you’ll be able to take home the skills and recipes that you learned. This means that you can recreate your favorite Hoi An dishes at home.
No beating around the bush anymore. Hang Dung Lantern Workshop is what we recommend. It’s just a unique and unforgettable moment!
The class starts with a brief introduction to the history and culture of Vietnamese lanterns. You’ll learn about the different types of lanterns that are made in Vietnam and the different materials used.
Next, you’ll choose the type of lantern you want to make. There are a variety of different shapes and sizes to choose from. Once you’ve chosen your lantern, you’ll be provided with all of the necessary materials and tools.
The instructors at Hang Dung Lantern Workshop are very experienced and patient. They will guide you through the entire process step-by-step. You’ll learn how to cut and shape the bamboo frame, how to attach the silk fabric, and how to decorate your lantern with tassels and other embellishments.
By the end of the class, you’ll have created your own beautiful Vietnamese lantern that you can take home with you as a souvenir.
If we have to humanize Hoi An, we’d call it a living fashion icon. The city flips and changes its “clothes” from day to night just like a pro. And it’s beautiful no matter what way.
But here’s the fact: Hoi An becomes more gorgeous and fun after dusk.
A boat ride on the Thu Bon River at night is a magical experience. The river is lined with colorful lanterns, and the city lights twinkle in the distance. The air is filled with the sound of music and laughter as people enjoy a relaxing evening on the water.
As your boat glides down the river, you’ll pass by jazzy restaurants and people ashore. You’ll also spot many street vendors from the river bank.
At the end of the boat ride, you’ll be able to release your own lantern into the river. This is a beautiful and symbolic gesture, and it’s a great way to end your evening in Hoi An.
Beaches are common, yet we love to include the An Bang beach for special reasons. Taking just a short taxi ride or cycling from Hoi An Ancient Town, it’s easy to visit the beach and the town on the same day.
An Bang Beach has a very laid-back atmosphere. There are no high-rise hotels or resorts on the beach, so it’s a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Of course, everyone is allowed to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water sports. The locals here love volleyball and football. If these sports are among your favorites, feel free to join the local players.
The best thing about An Bang is that it has excellent restaurants and outdoor bars along the coast. You can find everything from traditional Vietnamese cuisine and international fare. Plus, they serve mouth-watering seafood here.
Chao Ngheu (Clam Rice Soup) is the best Asian dish we’ve ever tasted! There are dozens of stalls that only serve this dish right on the beach; you can order from any. So if you’re already there, please do yourself such a favor!
Do you know that silk-making and tailoring are among Hoi An’s famous traditional crafts? They’ve had them for hundreds of years. Thus, the city is home to many professional tailors.
Having new outfits customized and made by Ms. Tam Tam from Blue Shop is a rewarding experience. The tailors are highly skilled and experienced, and they take time to understand your needs.
Walking into the shop, you’re shown with a catalog of popular and unique designs. Feel free to show them your preferences, and they will give you fabrics and styles to choose from.
Once the tailor has taken your measurements, they will begin to make your new clothes. This process typically takes no more than 24 hours, depending on how much you order.
Once the clothes are finished, you will return to the tailor shop for a fitting. The tailor will make any necessary adjustment to ensure they fit you perfectly.
Once you’re satisfied with the fit and everything else, you can take home and enjoy them! Note that Ms. Tam Tam can send the clothes to your hotel upon request.
The Hoi An Memories Show is a spectacular outdoor performance that tells the story of Hoi An’s 400-year history. With over 500 performers, including dancers, acrobats, and musicians, the show is performed on a 25,000-square-meter stage. And it features stunning costumes, elaborate sets, music and gorgeous lights.
Throughout the show, you’ll get a clear picture of how Hoi An was formed and developed. It’s one of the best shows in the world you must see.
The ticket costs VND550,000/visitor. The show starts at 7:30 pm, but you may want to arrive at the Memories Land at 4 pm for additional activities apart from the main show.
Trust us. It’s absolutely worth your time and money!
Yes, Hoi An is generally an affordable place to visit. Accommodation, food, and activities are all relatively cheap, especially compared to other popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia.
Here are some tips for saving money on your trip to Hoi An:
We hope you enjoy this article on the 15 best things to do in Hoi An. No matter what your interests are, there is a tour in Hoi An that is perfect for you. So book a tour today and experience the magic of the city for yourself!
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