Hoi An Ancient Town is a place you should have on your Vietnam travel list. Not only because of many rave reviews from travelers about it but also because of its charm and beauty. In our Hoi An Travel Guide packed with local recommendations on when to visit, what to do, and foods to eat, you will find it is worth to visit and discover all of its traditions, ancient buildings, lovely streets, the sightseeing, and of course delicious Vietnamese food.
WHEN TO GO TO HOI AN
From February to April, there is less rain, and the heat is not as intense as in the summer. On the 15th day of each month in the Lunar Calendar, when visiting Hoi An, you will get a chance to see the iconic symbol of Hoi An Ancient Town: red lanterns. The color of those paper lanterns lights up the whole streets at night, bringing a little excitement and a little traditional vibe.
HOW TO GET TO HOI AN
The nearest airport is Danang International Airport, which is 30 km from Hoi An. Because both Danang and Hoi An have become famous attractions for the local and international tourists as well, it would be more expensive to book a flight last minute. You should book as early as three to six months in advance for cheap flight deals.
Major transit airport to Hoi An is Danang International Airport.
It will take between 18 to 20 hours to get to Danang using the bus departing from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). From Danang bus station, you can easily find a bus or a taxi taking you to Hoi An bus station in about 2 hours. And it is another 1 km from Hoi An bus station to get to the center of Hoi An Ancient Town.
From Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Danang:
Price: From VND 400,000 to VND 500,000/ticket
You can inquire about the information about booking and scheduling on the bus service providers recommended below.
Tel: (+84) 22 5392 0920
Tel: (+84) 1900 6067 or (+84) 28 3838 6852
From Danang to Hoi An:
The bus from Danang bus station to Hoi An bus station runs from 5:30 AM to 5:50 PM every day; you can catch one every 20 minutes.
Price: VND 16,000/ticket
It will take you 14 to 20 hours using a train that goes from Hanoi (North-South route) or Ho Chi Minh City to Danang (South-Nouth route), respectively. The price depends on the train and cabin’s class.
Seating Cabin: From VND 400,000 to VND 600,000/ticket
Bunk Bed Cabin: From VND 650,000 to VND 900,000/ticket
Seating Cabin: From VND 250,000 to VND 500,000/ticket
Bunk Bed Cabin: From VND 550,000 to VND 750,000/ticket
For more information on tickets and train schedules, check out Vietnam Railways.
Book your tickets on 12Go Asia
HOW TO GET AROUND IN HOI AN
There are many means of transportation to travel around Hoi An Ancient Town such as the bus, taxi, motorbike taxi, or rickshaw. But strolling down small streets or getting on a bicycle to wander around town is the best way to get into every corner of this beautiful old town and leisurely enjoy the views.
Bicycle rent fee: VND 30,000/day
Motorbike is another alternative. However, if you want to use a motorbike on your trip in Hoi An Ancient Town, you need to notice that there are curfews for this transportation on some streets. The limit is applied every day, from 9 AM to 11 AM in the morning and from 3 PM to 9:30 PM. You will need to leave your passport as collateral unless you rent directly from your hotel.
Motorbike rent fee: From VND 120,000 to VND 150,000/day
There are many rivers in Hoi An, so you can also choose a boat tour to see Hoi An Ancient Town from another perspective. For information on booking and scheduling this waterway exploration, refer to the contacts below:
Hoi An Waterway Transportation Association: (+84) 235 386 1240
Song Hoi Transportation: (+84) 235 386 1332
Hoi An Tourist Guide Office: (+84) 235 386 2715
WHERE TO GO IN HOI AN
Hoi An Attractions
Hoi An Ancient Town is the best place to explore old buildings, traditional crafts, and lifestyle. You will also get to see the colorful fabrics, vivid red lanterns, and royal yellow painted on the walls of many temples here.
Note: You don’t have to buy tickets to explore Hoi An Ancient Town. However, if you wish to enter some of the ancient houses on the street, tickets are required. There are two types of entrance tickets:
- VND 80,000: you can see 3 out of 21 sightseeing places
- VND 120,000: you can see 5 out of 21 sightseeing places
You can choose any of the listed 21 places, include Japanese Covered Bridge, Fujian Assembly Hall, Phung Hung Old House…, and join in on the art activities, folk games, and night market. See Hoi An World Heritage for more information on ticket price and promotion policy.
There are ticket booths on every entrance and street in Hoi An Ancient Town. It’s quite small so you may have to ask for directions but the locals are more than willing to help.
Japanese Covered Bridge
Japanese Covered Bridge is one of the crowdest attractions in Hoi An.
Hoi An view from Japanese Covered Bridge.
The Japanese Covered Bridge is the most iconic symbol located in Hoi An. The bridge was built at the end of the 16th century and named the Japanese Bridge (Cau Nhat Ban). It has a roof that is not often built for Vietnamese bridges with design and patterns combined between that of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and French. In the middle of the bridge, there is a small shrine that worships the Black Tortoise God, so this place is called “Chua Cau” in Vietnamese.
Location: The bridge connects the two streets: Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Tran Phu – across a channel that leads to Thu Bon River.
Fujian Assembly Hall
Fujian Assembly Hall entrance.
Fujian Assembly Hall exemplifies Chinese architecture.
Incense hanging on Fujian Assembly Hall’s ceiling.
It used to be a small shrine worshipping Mazu, a sea Goddess. It was reinforced many times with the sponsor from the Fujian community in Vietnam and became more and more magnificent. There are also some other assembly halls of the Chinese community in Hoi An such as Chaozhou Assembly Hall and Guangdong Assembly Hall.
Fujian Assembly Hall
Location: 46 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Chaozhou Assembly Hall/Trieu Chau Assembly Hall
Built in 1846 to worship General Ma Yuan by the Chaozhou community in Vietnam.
Location: 92B Nguyen Duy Hieu Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Cantonese Assembly Hall
It was built in 1885 to worship Mazu and Confucius at first and later in 1911 to worship Guan Yu and the Cantonese pioneers in Vietnam. Every year on the 15th day of Tet and on the 24th day of June of the Lunar Calendar, there are many religious events held here that attract a lot of people joining in.
Location: 176 Tran Phu Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Tran Family Chapel
The Tran is a family from China who migrated to Hoi An in the 1700s. The Tran Family Chapel is built by a Tran official in 1802 based on the Vietnamese and Chinese feng shui principles. It was one of the oldest family chapels from hundreds of years ago that remains the old architecture.
Location: 21 Le Loi Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5:30 PM
Hoi An Museum of History and Culture
The museum was established in 1989. It displays 212 original exhibits and historically valuable documents, such as terracotta pottery, porcelain, metals like iron and copper, papers, and woods that reflect the developmental stages of Hoi An commercial port from Sa Huynh culture period (from 200 AD) to Cham culture period (from 200 AD to 15th century) and to Dai Viet – Dai Nam culture period (from 15th century to 19th century).
Location: 13 Nguyen Hue Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5:30 PM
Old House of Tan Ky
This house was built about 200 years ago with the archetypal design of Hoi An buildings; the house interior is divided into many sections, each serving different purposes. At the front of the house is usually the place to open a small shop, and the back of the house leads to the river bank to load and unload goods.
Old House of Tan Ky is built with traditional building materials by local carpenters, so it has that unique design, smooth patterns, and warm feeling, combining Chinese and French architecture. On February 17th, 1990, The Old House of Tan Ky was recognized as a National Historical and Cultural Heritage.
Address: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 8 AM – 5 PM
Hoi An Arts and Crafts Manufacturing Workshop
The manufacturing workshop is the place that gathers all traditional crafts in Hoi An and Quang Nam, such as woven straw mat, fabric weaving, terracotta pottery, and lacquer paintings. When visiting the studio, you will get the chance to witness peaceful Vietnamese scenery and see the skillful craftsmen creating elegant and unique works of art. You also get the opportunity to participate in one of the making processes as well and pick up something as souvenirs. Besides the crafts, at 10:15 AM and 3:15 PM, there are 30-minute musical performances for visitors to open and to end a day.
Address: 9 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 10:15 AM – 3:15 PM
Hoi An Market
Though not listed in many Hoi An travel guides, Hoi An Market is actually a great place to shop for souvenirs. Walk along Tran Phu Street in Hoi An Ancient Town, and you’ll find Hoi An Market. Popular souvenirs from Hoi An are mung beans and pork cake, mini lanterns and silk products like scarfs.
Hoi An Market locates at the center of Hoi An Ancient Town.
Hoi An Activities
Step out of Hoi An Ancient Town for a few kilometers, and you will find yourself with a lot of activities than just sightseeing.
Release Paper Lanterns
Though not as many as on the 15th day of each month in the Lunar calendar, red lanterns can still be released into the water at night. You can buy the lanterns along the river bank. Each costs around VND 5,000, and it’s already lit on so you can release it right away. The spectacular view of colorful paper lanterns, typically red, floating, and burning gets this activity on every Hoi An travel guide there is.
Remember to make a wish while releasing your lantern.
Go to the Beach
Pack your swimsuit and enjoy the sun, white sand, and clear blue water at Cua Dai Beach. After tanning in the sun by the waves, you can indulge yourself with the fresh, delicious seafood along the beach for a reasonable price. Despite the vibrant day, at night, Cua Dai Beach gets more romantic when its water is sparkling, reflecting small lights from gasoline lanterns.
Another alternative for you is An Bang Beach which is closer to Hoi An but is no less beautiful. You will fall in love with strolling down the beach, breathing in the fresh air, and catching a gleam of the first sunlight on the beach.
Cua Dai Beach: 5 km to the East of Hoi An
An Bang beach: 3 km to the East of Hoi An, in Cam An District
Cruise on The Rivers
Thu Bon is one of the most famous rivers in Vietnam for its magnificent view. Many waterway service providers offer you a tour of this peaceful river. From the boat, you can see there are picturesque mountains, paddy fields, and sandhills on the two sides of the rivers. And at twilight, sunset on Thu Bon would momentarily catch your soul.
Location: Departing from a harbor on Bach Dang Street, going through Hoai River to Thu Bon River.
Explore the Islands
Cu Lao Cham is a group of seven small islands: Hon La, Hon Mo Me, Hon Kho Con, Hon Tai, Hon Dai, Hon Kho, Hon Lao, and Hon Ong. Cu Lao Cham is famous for its diversity in the ecosystem ranging from natural forests to white beaches, coral reefs, and valuable marine creatures. Jump into the water and have a swim here is fine; however, when swimming at Cu Lao Cham Islands, you need to watch out for transparent jellyfishes because their stings could leave you feeling a little bit burning and tingling pain.
If you want to explore more, you can stay overnight on these islands, but you need to pay a fee of VND 20,000/night and rent a tent (if you don’t have one) for VND 50,000/tent.
You can get there by speedboat from Cua Dai Beach in about 30 minutes or by wooden boat departing from Bach Dang Street harbor in about 2 hours.
Location: Tan Hiep District, Hoi An City, 18 km to the East of Cua Dai Beach
Discover Traditional Arts
Quang Nam is truly where Vietnamese traditional arts are kept alive. Hoi An Ancient Town lives up to its name, being surrounded by many traditional craft villages.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
The vegetable here is grown with organic fertilizer, so they are fresh and more sophisticated when taking care of. Prepare to get your hands dirty and try actual farming with the locals here.
Location: 3 km from Hoi An City, in Cam Ha District
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Price: VND 20,000/ticket
Kim Bong Carpentry Village
Artisans in the Kim Bong Carpentry Village take high pride in the fact that their ancestors were invited by the Nguyen’s King to the capital to build and reinforce the fortress and monument tombs. When visiting this village, you will witness the process of making a chain of refining wooden art pieces.
Location: Cam Kim District, Hoi An on the other side of Thu Bon River.
Opening hours: 6 AM – 5:30 PM
Thanh Nam Fishing Village
Get on a coracle and get to know the life of a fisherman.
Location: 3 km from Hoi An Ancient Town, in Cam Nam District
Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Location: by Thu Bon River, 3 kilometers to the West of the ancient quarter
Google Map location: Thanh Ha Pottery Village
Entrance fee: VND 35,000 (includes a pottery-making class)
After visiting Thanh Ha Pottery Village, make your way to Terracotta Park beside it as well. The park is a complex of a three-storied building acting as a terracotta museum and a beautiful terracotta garden outside. The museum features different genres of pottery-making in Vietnam in both a chronological and geographical order, to show the evolution and importance of pottery in Vietnam.
Terracotta Park entrance fee: VND 40,000
Entrance to Terracotta Park inside Thanh Ha pottery village.
Terracotta statues inside the terracotta museum of Terracotta Park.
Terracotta models of worldwide famous attractions provide a nice backdrop for photography.
Hoi An Silk Village
Hoi An silk village is a great attraction to visit if you’re bored of all the usual recommendations in Hoi An travel guide. This “village” is a combination of a luxury resort, a boutique, and an interactive museum. The resort lies deep inside, and regular visitors are not allowed to enter. However, you can still enjoy the stunning exterior, as well as an educational visit to the silk museum, where you can learn and see all of the steps involved in silk-making. There is a free tour guide as well to provide you information.
Hoi An Silk Village has lots of greeneries.
Cham people’s ancient way of making silk.
Silk store inside Hoi An Silk Village.
Get in Style
When strolling down the streets of Hoi An, you won’t be able to get your eyes off the color of the fabrics in the tailor stores. Forbes praised the services here for their professionalism and speed. You may be surprised by how fast the tailors in Hoi An can get it done for you. You can get in a store to order fashion items such as pants, shirts, shoes, or bags and in about 4 hours you will have your unique design items for an excellent price.
Location: stores on Nguyen Duy Hieu, Tran Phu, Le Loi, Tran Hung Dao streets
Opening hours: 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Price: USD 15 – 100
WHAT TO EAT IN HOI AN
A bowl of Cao Lau is typically eaten with various fresh herbs to cut through the rich taste.
This is the must-try dish when visiting Hoi An that appears in every Hoi An Travel Guide. It is a noodle dish served with meat and herbs on top and very little soup, unlike other noodle dishes in Vietnam. But the unique thing that makes Hoi An’s cao lau different from the rest is the soft silky noodle made from rice soaked in burnt wood ash. It is believed that cao lau was introduced to Hoi An in the 17th century, which was why the dish shares many resemblances with Japanese cold noodles and Chinese cuisines. However, Hoi An’s cao lau still has that unique flavor that you can find it only in Hoi An. You can easily find this popular food anywhere in the city from street vendors to high-class restaurants.
Cao Lau Ba Be – Tran Phu Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 2 PM -10 PM
Thanh Cao Lau – 26, Thai Phien, Hoi An
Opening hours: 7 AM – 7 PM
Price range: VND 20,000 – VND 44,000/serving
White Rose (Banh bao, banh vac)
White rose is a kind of dumpling. It has two variations, but they are always served together on the same plate. One is stuffed with pork meat, wood ear mushroom, green onion, and a secret spice mix. Another is stuffed with pounded shrimp, pepper, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, and other secret spices. When steamed, the red color of the shrimp wrapped by a thin, almost transparent, white layer of dumpling skin makes it look like a beautiful white rose. The fragrance of the crunchy fried shallots and the savory fish sauce will elevate the taste and your experience to another level.
Location: White Rose Restaurants, 533 Hai Ba Trung Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 50,000 – VND 100,000
White rose (banh bao banh vac): VND 70,000/dish
Hoi An wonton: VND 100,000/dish
White rose cake and Hoi An’s bao buns.
Besides white rose cake, Hoi An fried wonton is a unique dish that caught many tourists’ attention. It’s a fairly new dish so you won’t find it on many Hoi An travel guides, yet any locals would recommend this without doubts.
It’s best to eat while it’s still hot, so you can fully enjoy the contrasting taste of crispy fried wonton wrapping and mouth-watering tomato sauce.
Hoi An fried wonton looks like a combination of pizza and quesadilla.
“Smashed” Rice Crackers and Baby Clams (Banh Dap – Hen Xao)
As scary as the name sounds, it is a quite delicious dish which helps you get a little exercise while eating. The “smashed” rice crackers are two grilled rice papers and a thin sheet of steamed rice paper put between the two; when you eat, you have to smash them so that the crispy crackers will stick to the soft and steamy rice layer. But don’t get too excited and forget about the star of this dish, the baby basket clams. The tiny clams are removed from its shell and stir-fried with peanuts, fried shallots, and last but not least Vietnamese coriander. The flavor of the sea from the clams go well with spicy coriander and nutty peanuts. Put it on top of the smashed crackers, and you will have a healthy snack.
Location: Thon 1, Cam Nam District, Hoi An
Opening hours: 7 AM – 5 PM
Price: VND 20,000 – VND 55,000
Water Fern Cake (Banh Beo)
Like many dishes from Vietnam’s Central, this recipe for Steamed Rice Water Fern Cakes is also quite different from its version in the South, from the taste to the way it is served. The rice flour mix is steamed in a small stone dish. Only when you order, the meat, shrimp, green onion oil, chili oil, and fried shallot are put on top. You will have to use a bamboo stick, instead of a chopstick or spoon, to carve the rice flour out the small dish. All of the flavors, the texture combined, using a bamboo stick is a one-of-a-kind food experience you should try when in Hoi An.
Location: Banh Beo, Banh Nam Ba Bay – 2 Hoang Van Thu, Hoi An
Opening hours: 6:30 AM – 2 PM
Price: VND 10,000 – VND 15,000
Hoi An’s Vietnamese Pancake (Banh Khoai/Banh Xeo Hoi An)
If you have not known what a Vietnamese pancake is, you must check out our blog on 20 MUST-TRY Vietnamese Foods Before You Die. It is a crepe made from a rice batter, put on a sizzling hot pan, stuffed with stir-fried pork meat, shrimp, bean sprout, green onion, and served with a lot of Vietnamese herbs and chili fish sauce. Hoi An’s version of Vietnamese crepe is more crispy than those in the South because the batter is baked in a small pan on a grill instead of frying in the pan. It would be best to enjoy this dish from October to December when the cold is cooling down the heat and smoke from the grills.
Location: Bale Well – 45/51 Tran Hung Dao Street, Hoi An Opening hours: 3 PM – 10 PM
Price: VND 15,000 – VND 44,000
Quang Noodle (Mi Quang)
Mi Quang looks like Cao Lau because it is also topped with meat, shrimp and some herbs (Vietnamese love herbs) but the flavor is entirely different. The noodle is a little smoother, boiled quail eggs are added, and you can forget about the crispy sesame rice cracker pieces that keep you wanting more. You can go to Hoi An Market on Tran Phu Street or any vendors to enjoy this delicious dish.
Location: Mi Quang Ba Minh – Cam Ha District, Hoi An
Opening hours: 7 AM – 9 PM
Price: VND 25,000 – VND 50,000
You may get used to the taste of Banh Mi when traveling to other cities of Vietnam like Hanoi or Saigon. But banh mi in Hoi An is another version of this iconic food you should try. Why? Because it is highly praised for its diversity in the fillings, from Vietnamese sausages to hotdog, cheese, bacon, cilantro, cucumber, pickles, green onion, and a special homemade sauce. It may be a little crowded because these places are highly-rated on Foursquare and Tripadvisor, but if you are not in a rush, you can stop by and enjoy another aspect of banh mi.
Banh Mi Phuong
Location: 2B Phan Chu Trinh Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 6 AM – 9 PM
Price: VND 30,000
Banh Mi Madam Khanh
Location: 115 Tran Cao Van Street, Hoi An
Opening hours: 6 AM – 10 PM
Price: VND 15,000 – VND 20,000
Vietnamese Sweet Corn Pudding (Che Bap)
The sweet corn pudding is a favorite dessert in Hoi An which is made from the great Cam Nam corn. Different from the Southern version of this dessert, in Hoi An, the corn is not cooked with coconut milk to preserved its original flavor and coconut milk is only added later when served to give a little creamy taste. When Cam Nam corn is harvested from March to September, it is also the best time to enjoy this dessert.
Location: Street vendors on Tran Phu and Le Loi streets
Price: VND 7,000+
WHERE TO STAY IN HOI AN
Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai Hoi An
Four Seasons The Nam Hai Hoi An
Booking link: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai Hoi An
Little Hoi An . A Hotel & Spa
Little Hoi An .A Hotel and Spa
Booking link: Little Hoi An . A Hotel & Spa
La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa
La Siesta Hoi An Resort and Spa
Booking link: La Siesta Hoi An Resort & Spa
Calla Villa Hoi An
Calla Villa Hoi An
Booking link: Calla Villa Hoi An
Lasenta Boutique Hotel Hoi An
Lasenta Boutique Hotel
Booking link: Lasenta Boutique Hotel
Vinh Hung Library Hotel
Vinh Hung Library Hotel
Booking link: Vinh Hung Library Hotel
Hoi An Green Apple Hotel
Hoi An Green Apple Hotel
Booking link: Hoi An Green Apple Hotel
Conclusion on What to Do in Hoi An Travel Guide
Plan a trip to Hoi An Ancient Town, and you will not be disappointed with the things you can discover here. The old town, old buildings, temples, and traditional arts kept alive make a great reminder of the past. But you will also find Hoi An lovely and exciting with sunny beaches, green islands and colorful, bright lanterns at night. The food is an essential part of your experience here with many special foods locals in the Central of Vietnam. And make sure to get your customed clothes from the tailors in Hoi An; it would be another highlight of a wonderful trip to Vietnam.
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