If you’re looking for the best things to do in Hoi An to add to your Hoi An Itinerary, you have come to the right place! A perfect Vietnam itinerary would not be complete without exploring this wonderful city.
Hoi An is just one of those places that offers something for everyone. Nearby are lovely beaches to soak up the sun, and there are many amazing places to visit on a day trip from Hoi An. In one day you can visit mountains, beaches, a city and rice paddies. The mix of the Old Town charm, with its great fusion cuisine, and happy and very welcoming people make this a must-visit destination.
Hoi An was the most important trading port in Asia linking China and Japan with the rest of Asia. The ancient yellow buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries, with stone roads and colorful lanterns hanging outside buildings, make it so beautiful during the day. At night the lanterns light the yellow buildings of the Old Quarter with a warm, welcoming glow.
The ancient town is renowned for tailored clothes, making it a great destination if you like to shop for good quality, inexpensive tailor-made clothes, and shoes. So, without any further ado, here are the top 15 things to do in Hoi An plus a very detailed city guide to help to plan your perfect Hoi An Itinerary.
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, you will love these articles:
- Hoi An Itinerary: Top 15 Hoi An Things To Do
- 1. Explore the Old Quarter in Hoi An
- 2. Enjoy the great local and fusion cuisine
- 3. Visit the rice paddies during your Hoi An itinerary
- 4. Ride a bicycle around Hoi An
- 5. Take Day Trips from Hoi An
- 6. Visit the Tailor Shops
- 7. Stroll by the river
- 8. Take a boat trip down the Thu Bon River
- 9. Explore the historic buildings
- 10. Visit the Incredible Precious Heritage Project
- 11. Enjoy the Nightlife in Hoi An
- 12. Explore the Cafes in Hoi An
- 13. Attend a cooking class
- 14. Go Snorkeling at Cham Island
- 15. Connect with the Locals in Hoi An
- Planning Your Trip to Hoi An
- What to do in Hoi An Conclusion
Read More: A Perfect 2 weeks Vietnam Itinerary
Hoi An Itinerary: Top 15 Hoi An Things To Do
1. Explore the Old Quarter in Hoi An
Let’s start your Hoi An itinerary by exploring the stunning Old Quarter. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the central coast of Vietnam and is known for its well-preserved picturesque Old Quarter, which is cut through with canals.
The city’s past as a trading center is reflected in its architecture; a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shop houses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses, and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
This fantastic ancient town tour will take you to all the best spots including the Japanese Bridge, a traditional pottery museum, and a traditional assembly hall. You’ll also get to head on a river ride in a traditional basket boat and go on a ‘handicraft tour’ of Hoi An where you’ll get to learn about how the locals make a living! Although you can always take a self-guided tour of the Old Quarter, you’ll get to learn so much more if you explore with a local guide.
Suggested Tour: Hoi-An Half-Day Ancient Town Tour
2. Enjoy the great local and fusion cuisine
Oh yeah! There is good food in Hoi An and great options for restaurants offering local dishes and the prices are very good too. I tried many different restaurants and I didn’t have one bad meal, they were all great.
The food is very fresh, and tasty, and with a large variety of options. There are quite a few restaurants that have modern twists on classic Vietnamese dishes as well as new creations and fusion dishes from talented chefs, so there’s a lot on offer. Here is a list of 10 restaurants in Hoi An
If you’d prefer a local’s advice then why not check out this walking food tour? This tour is limited to twelve people and you’ll get to visit some of Hoi An’s best foodie hotspots. Not only will you get to try authentic cuisine but you’ll be given other recommendations during your stay!
Suggested Tour: Evening Walking Food Tour in Hoi An
3. Visit the rice paddies during your Hoi An itinerary
I stayed at the Hoi An Chic Green Retreat and it was a perfect location. It is located between large rice paddies and the main town, so as you can imagine the views were pretty special. I rented a motorbike and enjoyed the scenery and observed the people working in the paddies!
You can also rent a bicycle and ride on dirt roads and concrete paths among the rice fields. This is another great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and observe the life of the locals who work in the fields.
Along the way, you’ll probably get to see water buffalo with their owners, but just be wary of taking photographs. Some locals don’t mind at all, whilst some will want to get paid for the opportunity. Of course, if you don’t mind paying then it’s not an issue! There are plenty of fantastic cafes in the area that offer views of the rice paddies too and they make for the perfect stop-off.
Suggested Tour: Hoi An Countryside full-day small group bicycle tour
4. Ride a bicycle around Hoi An
Bikes are very popular in Hoi An since the traffic is lighter than in the big cities.
The main sections of Hoi An are closed to cars and motorbikes, making it easier and safer to ride a bicycle around. You can easily just ride around yourself but if you’d prefer to go on a guided tour then I’ve got the perfect option for you!
Take a look at this countryside bike tour if you’re wanting to learn about the area whilst you ride! You’ll be cycling for around 4.5 hours and the guide will take you through the ancient town of Hoi An, through lush rice paddies, and past traditional villages.
Heading out on a bicycle is also a great way to explore the surrounding area as some of the tourist attractions are located outside of Hoi An!
5. Take Day Trips from Hoi An
There are so many places to visit around Hoi An. You can explore freely, for example, follow the river and observing all the fishing boats. There are also many restaurants around the river, where you can enjoy local beer and food whilst you have a phenomenal view.
You’ll be overwhelmed with options for a day tour from Hoi An, so here are some of my top picks for you:
- Bang Beach: Some hotels provide a shuttle bus from Hoi An to Bang Beach. The bars and restaurants are all quite small, but they offer delicious food, refreshing drinks, and entertainment. You will find many fun activities to do here, including paddle boarding, parasailing, and jet skiing.
- Danang: Take a 1-hour motorbike ride to the city of Danang and plan to visit the magnificent Marble Mountains. The best way to visit is by taking the Da Nang tour which will take you to Marble Mountain, Lady Buddha, and Am Phu Cave!
- My Son Hindu Sanctuary: You can also take a 1-hour car drive to visit the historic Hindu Sanctuary of My Son. If you don’t want to travel on your own, a great option is this My Son Sanctuary tour which includes a river cruise
- Hue: One of the best day trip options is this Hue city tour which includes a visit to the imperial city, a drive along the famous Hai Van Pass, and Lap An Lagoon. You’ll also get to visit other popular attractions including Thien Mu Pagoda and the Tomb of Khai Dinh.
6. Visit the Tailor Shops
Hoi An is famous for its Tailors. The streets and galleries are packed with tourists carrying designer magazines, and the local tailors can reproduce pretty much anything!
All you have to do is to pick your style, and your favorite fabric, and the next day you can go back to try it and make any final adjustments needed before you pick it up. I was so tempted to buy more, but thanks to the limited space in my backpack I controlled myself and ended up with only a couple of dresses and a pair of shoes that I absolutely love!
Do you want a replica Indiana Jones leather jacket? You can get one made to your size here. If you can think of it, they can make it – trust me! Many people choose to get suited and booted for upcoming events here such as weddings or christenings!
7. Stroll by the river
The Old Quarter of Hoi An is closed to cars and motorbikes. It’s only open to pedestrians, bicycles, and rickshaws, which makes it really pleasant to just walk around the ancient part of the town without worrying about the traffic.
The majority of Hoi An is located along the Thu Bon River which is also known as the ‘Mother of Rivers’ as it’s home to an abundance of fish. Its main purpose was to transport goods between the highlands and lowlands, as well as other countries such as Thailand and Laos.
Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction and you’ll find plenty of riverside bars and restaurants here. Although beautiful at any time of day, you don’t want to miss this part of Hoi An at night. All the lanterns alongside the river and on the boats are lit up meaning the river is illuminated in all its glory!
8. Take a boat trip down the Thu Bon River
Many locals, usually women, offer boat rides down the river in their wooden canoes. It’s a great opportunity to see more of the Hoi An Old Quarter from a different angle and isn’t an experience you want to miss!
These boat rides run throughout the day but for the best experience, you may want to head out in the evening. This night market tour of Hoi An includes a walking tour of the Ancient Town and then you’ll have a 30-minute cruise along the river. This will give you the perfect opportunity to see the city lit up at night!
There are also larger boats that offer dinner cruises on the river; an example being this romantic sunset dinner cruise. It’s a 2-hour cruise that includes a welcome drink, fresh seafood, and a tasty dessert. This dinner cruise will take you past some of Hoi An’s more hidden gems and you’ll get to learn about the local history.
Suggested Tour: Romantic Sunset Dinner Cruise in Hoi An
9. Explore the historic buildings
Hoi An has many historic buildings from the 16th to 18th centuries, including the famous Japanese Covered Bridge. Explore some houses, as some of them have had their interiors turned into museums, giving visitors a glimpse at what life was like for wealthy merchants in the colonial and pre-colonial periods.
The Tan Ky and the Duc An homes are two of the more popular ones to visit, so make sure you allow some time for this! These two buildings have been inhabited for generations, with the Duc An House being around 400 years old.
Some of the other historical buildings that you should visit include Hoi Quan Phuoc Kien, Toc Tran, and the Hoi An Artcraft Manufacturing Workshop. As you can see, Hoi An has a lot to offer in terms of history and its unique architecture so take some time to simply wander around and admire the views.
Suggested Tour: Hoi An Private City Tour
10. Visit the Incredible Precious Heritage Project
The Precious Heritage Project is this amazing art gallery that displays photography from one of the best photographers in the world today, Rehahn. You cannot only find Rehahn’s photography on display, but you can also see his museum dedicated to the 54 native tribes of Vietnam.
This museum of ethnology was one of the most impactful and special experiences that I had in Hoi An. I had the incredible pleasure to meet Rehahn while visiting his gallery, and he’s a very genuine person! His passion for photography and Vietnam was very palpable, and he was gracious enough to spend time sharing precious stories of his projects with me.
Although this may not be one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An, it’s not something you should miss. The project aims to preserve tribal culture, including the Black Hmong, and document Vietnam’s different cultures, some of which are dwindling quickly in terms of population.
11. Enjoy the Nightlife in Hoi An
When nighttime comes, the Old Quarter transforms and the yellow lights from the lanterns hanging outside the buildings and in the streets add even more charm to this quaint place. The nightlife in Hoi An is very alive with all the restaurants, bars, night market, and boutique shops, attracting and inviting people to enjoy the outdoors.
Although Hoi An may seem like a quiet destination, you won’t be short of nightlife opportunities. First of all, if you’re looking to party then make sure you head to Tribee Kinh Hostel and Vietnam Backpacker Hostels.
If you’d prefer something a bit more low-key then there are endless bars to choose from including The Shamrock Irish Pub, Guitar Hawaii Bar, The Deck Hoi An, and Market Bar. Not only that but you’ve also got the famous night market where you can grab souvenirs and eat some delicious food!
Suggested Tour: Hoi An by Night with Dinner
12. Explore the Cafes in Hoi An
Hoi An also offers so many options for coffee shops and it’s hard to make a bad choice. I had one of the best breakfasts at Rosie’s café. It was so fresh and healthy, and I highly recommend you to try it. Rosie’s offers some very creative options on classic dishes. The café is tucked away and can be a challenge to find, but it was so worth the effort!
Some of the most popular cafes in Hoi An include:
- U Cafe,
- The Espresso Station,
- Mia Coffee.
- Phin Coffee & Restaurant and Faifo Coffee also have over a thousand reviews on Google, so you know that you’re in good hands!
You’re likely to find plenty of others hidden down alleyways too so stray away from the tourist area and find some of the city’s more secret spots.
13. Attend a cooking class
There’s no better way to understand a place’s cuisine than by taking a cooking class! Not only will you get to learn all about the local food, but you’ll also get to learn delicious recipes that you’ll be able to cook at home.
Now, there are plenty of fantastic cooking classes in Hoi An so you’ll be spoilt for choice. To save you from searching, why not check out this eco-cooking class?
It includes a visit to the produce market where you’ll purchase your ingredients and a chance to fish for fresh crab the Vietnamese way! You’ll then have a 2-hour cooking class where you’ll get to learn new recipes including spring rolls and chicken noodles!
There’s also this awesome cooking class that takes place in someone’s home so you’ll get the ultimate local experience. Cooking with Jolie in Hoi An focuses on using the freshest ingredients possible and will teach you how to make four traditional Vietnamese dishes.
14. Go Snorkeling at Cham Island
If you’re looking to try a bit of snorkeling then you’ll want to take a day trip out to Cham Island. Located just 9 miles (15 km) from the shoreline of Hoi An, this beautiful area is home to an abundance of tropical coral reefs so you’ll find plenty of marine life. In fact, this area is recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO so it’s quite the place to visit!
If you don’t want the hassle of getting there yourself then this awesome and very affordable Cham Island Day Tour is what you need. It includes a tour guide, entrance fees, your speedboat ticket, and snorkeling equipment so you’ll have everything covered. Not only that but lunch is included and so are pickup and drop-off in Hoi An.
Cham Island is undeniably beautiful so if you’re looking for a break from Vietnam’s chaotic cities then make sure you head here on a day trip!
15. Connect with the Locals in Hoi An
This is one of my favorite things to do while I am traveling and exploring our Planet! Connect with the locals. While exploring new things, getting lost in the streets, trying the local food, and visiting beautiful sites are all amazing.
I find that the best way to really get to know a place and its culture is through interaction with locals, and Hoi An is perfect for it. They are extremely nice people, and they are also eager to get to know you and to practice their English.
I always opt to stay in a regular neighborhood as it gives me the chance to interact with the locals, outside the tourist areas. An example of this is when I rode my bike to the local restaurant for my meal, and one day I ordered a pho. A local gentleman at the table next to me joined me for dinner and shared his long story about when he fought in the American-Vietnam War. I thought it was simply amazing!
Planning Your Trip to Hoi An
Accommodations in Hoi An
Hoi An has some of the most affordable accommodation options in Vietnam. It all depends on your travel style. You can pay as little as $20-$30 for a 2 Star Hotel. Also, there are plenty of options for good quality hotels, and the average prices are around $40-$80 or if you are looking for luxury accommodations, you can stay for $100-200 per night. Here are a couple of recommendations:
TOP OVERALL PICK: Little Riverside Hoi An
This gorgeous hotel is situated along the Thu Bon River and is home to endless facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, an on-site spa, a restaurant, and a bar. There’s also a terrace area where you can enjoy the breathtaking views!
MID RANGE: Golden Holiday Hotel & Spa
Not only are the rooms beautiful at this hotel but they’re super affordable, especially as breakfast is included with your stay. You’ll also benefit from an outdoor swimming pool, an on-site spa, a restaurant, and a bar so this place has a lot to offer.
This 5* hotel is located close to the Japanese Covered Bridge and offers free bicycle use so you’ll have no problems exploring Hoi An. They also offer a shuttle service to the old town and An Bang Beach, and there’s a 24-hour front desk where staff can help you with tour arrangements.
How to Get Around Hoi An
Hoi An was the second stop during my trip to Vietnam. I flew from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang and took a 30-minute Uber ride to my Airbnb in Hoi An for US$10. You’ll pay around US$15-20 if you take a regular cab!
Luckily, you can also take a shuttle transfer from Danang Airport to Hoi An, where you can book a private or shared transfer. That means you can just sit back in comfort, and not have to worry about finding transport after your flight!
To rent a motorbike to explore Hoi An you will pay US$5 per day plus gas. However, if you’d prefer not to rent a motorbike then you’ve got lots of other options.
A private driver for a day tour to the My Son ruins cost me US$10 per person so getting around is extremely affordable. Many of the hotels in Hoi An also offer free or very cheap bicycle use, and this is how many people choose to explore the old town!
How Long to Stay in Hoi An
I spent a total of 6 days in Hoi An, including spending Christmas and having the opportunity to take side trips to Danang and My Son. If you’re visiting Vietnam, I recommend including Hoi An on your must-visit list and plan to stay in this beautiful town for at least 3 full days.
This gives you enough time to explore all the tourist spots, take part in some tours or classes, and relax too!
Best time to Visit Hoi An
The dry season is from February until July, as these months provide plenty of sunshine, with warm temperatures. I visited Hoi An in December and the weather was just perfect!
The mornings started cloudy and overcast with mild temperatures, and by midday, it would warm up with temperatures in the low 70s. It rained briefly pretty much every day while I was in Hoi An, but it didn’t slow me down as I would take the opportunity to sit in one of the many cafés and enjoy watching the rain by the river.
The downside is that I was not able to go to the beach because the weather didn’t permit it so just keep that in mind when you’re planning your trip!
What to do in Hoi An Conclusion
If you were wondering what to do in Hoi An, I hope you’ve found many reasons to visit this fascinating town in Vietnam and add it to your itinerary!
I could even live in Hoi An because it seems to be a perfect and peaceful place to live. The natural beauty of the rice fields surrounding the town along with the river running through it creates a spectacular storybook river walk with boutique shops and restaurants.
Nearby are lovely beaches to soak up the sun, and there are many amazing places to visit on a day trip from Hoi An. In one day you can visit mountains, beaches, a city and rice paddies.
If you’ve enjoyed this guide then here are some others that you might find helpful:
- A Perfect 2-week Itinerary in Vietnam
- Vietnam Travel Tips: Everything You Need To Know Before Your Trip
- 3-Day Sapa Itinerary With Trekking & Authentic Homestay
- All you need to know about Sapa Homestay & Trekking with a Black Hmong Family
- Ultimate Guide to Visit the My Son Hindu Sanctuary
- Ultimate Guide to Visit the Marble Mountains in Danang
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