11 Things to Do in Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam is one of the most vibrant and historically fascinating places you'll ever visit. Seated on the central coast of the country, the city is the perfect intersection between a growing chic scene and wonderfully preserved culture. The food, the people, and the atmosphere are part of the many reasons that exploring the beautiful city will be an adventure of a lifetime. Not to mention it’s a photographer’s dream. If you’re headed to Hoi An, here are 11 things you won’t want to miss:
1. Exploring the Old Town
The center and most popular part of Hoi An is the historic Old Town (also known as Hoi An Ancient Town) which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1999. Here you’ll get a glimpse of the city’s diverse history – the iconic Japanese bridge, the Chinese temples, and the strikingly yellow (and somewhat dilapidated) facades with their French colonial influence. As you wander through winding alleyways, you’ll be in awe of all the hanging lanterns which light up the streets at night.
Exploring the Hoi An Ancient Town does require an entrance fee, which can be bought at kiosks scattered throughout town. The system itself is not very clear, or consistently enforced (some people are never asked for a ticket), but you should be prepared to show your ticket or pay if asked. One ticket covers your entire stay.
2. Ride bikes
Riding bikes is a way of life in Vietnam. While the larger cities like Saigon (Hoi Chi Minh City) and Hanoi have become dominated by scooters and motorbikes, Hoi An remains a bike friendly haven – making it the best mode of transportation for exploring. The Ancient Town closes to motor-traffic between 10am-3pm every day, making it another great place to explore by bike.
3. Hit the beach
On the outskirts of Hoi An, you can get your fix for a lush beach getaway. The closest beach is An Bang, which has a dozen beach-front restaurants and beach clubs that you can rent lounge chairs and umbrellas from.
4. Take a cooking class
Food is one of the best ways to learn about a culture. And it’s no surprise that the food in Vietnam is amazing. Throw on an apron and learn how to cook some delicious local staples, including gỏi cuốn (spring roll), pho ga (chicken rice noodle soup), cao lầu (rice noodle with pork, a Hoi An speciality) and bánh xèo (savory fried pancake).
5. Drinks with a view
While Hoi An isn’t known for its rooftop bars – there are several restaurants and eateries in the Old Town that give you a beautiful view. At sunset, you can watch from above as people light up candles in the river and the lanterns in the alleyways.
6. Pamper yourself for cheap
Enjoy getting pampered but can’t justify spending top dollar to do it? You’re in luck! Sprinkled throughout Hoi An are spas and salons that offer amazing services at bargain prices. Eyelash extensions, manicures/pedicures, waxing, massages – you name it. Don’t be surprised when you pay a fraction of what you pay at home.
7. Get something tailor made
Hoi An is known for its tailoring and bespoke specialty. You’ll see the streets are filled with tailor shops offering custom-made suits and dresses. Some deals are better than others – but if you know you’ll get long-term wear out of it, it’s definitely worth the splurge. Plus, it’s a great way to remember you adventure every time you slip it on.
8. Take a ride along the river
The canals and rivers throughout Hoi An offer yet another unique way to explore the area. Throughout the day you can hop on a river tour or hire a small row boat to take you up and down the water ways. The further away from the old town you float, the more untouched landscape you’ll enjoy.
9. Enjoy a Vietnamese coffee at a local cafe
Vietnamese coffee is unlike coffee anywhere else. Sweet, strong, and an art in and of itself. Plus, the cafes in Hoi An are Instagram-worthy.
10. Go shopping in the local market
Every morning, while the streets and alleyways of the Old Town are still asleep, a corner of the town comes to life – as local merchants wheel in their fresh produce, meat and seafood at the local market.
11. Surprise your palate with international fare
You’d be surprised in a place that feels small and secluded that you’ll find some of the best food from around the world. Italian, Indian, you name it! The number one rated restaurant in town is actually a Greek restaurant, owned and operated by a Greek couple who moved here after visiting for the first time a decade ago.