What to do in Hoi An: ALL the Best Things You Should Do

With its narrow ochre alleys and lantern-lit lanes, it’s easy to see why Hội An is a town that has quickly stolen the hearts of many around the world. Located on the banks of the Thu Bon River in central Vietnam, this ancient trading city is best known for its colorful architectural styles which reflect the many influences and residents it has held over time. Here is my list of all the wonderful things this charming town has to offer.

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WHERE TO STAY
WHAT TO SEE
WHERE TO EAT

Where to stay in Hoi An

 

Where you stay in Hoi An has a lot to do with what type of trip you are taking. You essentially have three options: staying close to the Ancient Town, a bit further from the town, and at the beach.

 

Close to the Ancient Town:

Staying close to the city is what many travelers opt to do. This cuts down on travel time going in and out of the Ancient Town for meals or sightseeing. Though this does make it quite a bit busier and hotel prices tend to be a bit higher.

The Hoi An Historic Hotel has been a favorite of mine for its location and price. Check it out here!

 

Outside of the city:

Here you’ll see prices come way down without sacrificing quality. This is a wonderful option if you are seeking a bit more of a peaceful holiday. Unless you drive a motorbike, expect to pay for taxis in and out of the city.

 

The beach:

Staying by the ocean comes with all its own pros and very few cons. Experience a quieter side of Hoi An with a sea view. Similar to the prior point – being outside of the city means you will have to travel about 10-20 minutes into it for meals and things to do.

The Victoria Hoi An is a fantastic beach property. Check it out here!

 

What to do in Hoi An

 

Wander around the night market

On the island portion of Hoi An’s ancient town is the buzzing night market. As the sun sets the hundreds of lanterns which are sold in the market start to glow. Along with the enchanting lanterns, there are also all the fun elements of a night market – food stalls, goods for sale etc. making it an excellent evening excursion.

 

Relax with a massage

There are tons of different places you can get a massage, but my favorite is Palmarosa Spa. Located in a fantastic location, just minutes from the ancient town they have a wide variety of high-quality services offered at reasonable prices.

Adventure to the Cham Islands

Located about 30 minutes off the coast of Hoi An are the Cham Islands. These islands boast some of the best beaches in Vietnam. For domestic tourists, these islands have been on their radar for years but it is relatively unknown with foreign tourists. There are a few small homestays which you can stay at on the larger of the Cham islands but there is also the option to camp there.

 

Visit An Bang Beach

Just ten minutes from the Ancient Town and you’ll be at the beach! An Bang beach is lined with restaurants and small beach bars making it super easy to stay there for hours. I am happy to report that on my last visit there wasn’t much pollution making it a wonderful beach experience. Get cocktails and food at Soul Kitchen to keep you fueled between sunbathing stints.

Take a day trip to the My Son Sanctuary

During the reign of the Champapura Kingdom (4th to 13th centuries) the capital city of this ancient civilization was established just outside of modern day Hoi An. Ruins of the kingdom’s great monuments are now listed as a UNESCO heritage site.

 

Rent a bicycle

Most hotels and homestays will rent you a bicycle upon your arrival. This is the preferred mode of transport throughout the Ancient town. Wake up early and cycle through the lanes while it’s quiet and cool.

 

Visit the Historic house of Tan Ky and Phung Hung

These well-preserved houses offer a look into the grand reality of Hoi An’s ancient trading families. With impressive carvings, unique architectural design and delicate mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture, this is a stop that you won’t want to miss.

 

Take a boat tour in the water coconut groves

Tour operators offer half day excursions to visit the dense coconut groves just outside of the Ancient Town. These tours can be private or public but with the city bending under the weight of tourism these canals can be packed with basket boats.

 

Temple-hop around town

Hoi An is home to some absolutely beautiful temples within the Ancient Town. The ticket price for entry into the 22 temples and old houses in the city is 120,000 VND. Many of these temples served as meeting halls or community spaces for residents many years ago, this is reflected in many of their names. Here are some must-see temples: The Japanese Bridge, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, Quan Cong Temple, and the Quang Trieu Cantonese Assembly Hall.

 

And of course… get clothes tailor made!

Depending on where you go the quality will differ but so will the price. Essentially you get what you pay for. Check out Blue Chic for quality pieces!

 

Where to eat in Hoi An

 

Hoi An is the epicenter of amazing Vietnamese foods. With influences from many different cultures throughout the years, and benefiting from culinary influences of Vietnam’s north and south there is a seemingly endless amount of things and places to eat.

 

TIP: As many of the restaurants can get quite busy make sure to call for a reservation.

 

Mango Mango

This fusion Vietnamese restaurant is a must-try while in the city. With an upscale atmosphere and fashionable menu to match it should be on your restaurant hit-list.

 

Nu Eatery/Seashell by Nu

Both of these eateries are visions of Nu – both of which combine fresh ingredients, a homey atmosphere, and excellent dishes making it a one of my favorites in the city.

 

Banh Mi Phuong

This critically acclaimed sandwich was given it’s accolades by the late Anthony Bourdain who visited the small restaurant on a trip to Hoi An years ago. Since it’s international attention this place is constantly packed, and for good reason too. I always go for the cheese and veggie or chicken and cheese banh mi.

 

Banh Mi Queen

Another banh mi joint with a slightly different spin on the Hoi An style sandwich is Banh Mi Queen. This is the feuding stall with Banh Mi Phuong, people will usually have strong opinions on which of these two are better!

 

MIX Greek

Who would have thought that this riverside town is home to some fantastic Greek food? MIX is right in the Ancient Town next to the Japanese Bridge. They serve up greek classics and won me over with their array of hummus and pita options.

 

Mini Mart Greek Souvlaki

This Greek restaurant is ambiguously placed in a mini-mart, they share the space it seems but this doesn’t make the quality of the food any less. The souvlaki wraps are large and ingredients super fresh. Located right by An Bang beach this is the perfect spot for a quick bite after a day at the beach.

 

Le Fe Dining Place

At first, I thought that Le Fe was just an adorable cafe but it also serves a full menu of Vietnamese favorites. The retro decorations and quintessential Hoi An architecture and yellow walls make it a fantastic place to spend an afternoon.

 

Morning Glory

One of the more popular restaurants in the Ancient Town is Morning Glory – but don’t let this put you off! The food here is top notch, just make sure to make a reservation. Make sure to try the banh xeo, cao lau and special crispy spring rolls.

 

Rosies Cafe

To all the brunch lovers, Rosie’s is the place for you. Smoothie bowls and big breakfasts are awaiting you at this charming cafe. Located just across the Japanese bridge and down a sleepy alley, it may be the best-kept secret of Hoi An.

 

Mai Fish

A concept of the Mango Mango restaurant, Mai Fish offers elevated Vietnamese favorites just as Mango Mango does but instead of being super modern, Mai Fish produce dishes which ring true to their roots. Less fusion and more authenticity make Mai Fish the fresh alternative for classic dishes.

 

Reaching out tea house

This tea house is run by the Vietnamese social enterprise Reaching Out. Reaching Out is a company which seeks to train and employ Vietnamese workers who have a disability which makes it difficult for them to attain work elsewhere. At this tea house, the staff are all hard of hearing or deaf making the tea house a silent excursion. There are helpful blocks with messages on them to help you communicate and also patrons can use pen and paper.

 

Faifo Coffee

As Hoi An gets busier so does this iconic rooftop! The premium coffee roasters have capitalized on their epic location with one of the only rooftops in the city. From here you can get a view of all the beautiful terracotta tile rooftops and a view of the busy streets below, you just might also be taking in this view with 30 of your closest friends also.

Continuing your journey to Hanoi? Check out my favorite things to do in the city!

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