Hoi An, an old Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th century, is charming in many ways. Visiting Hoi An ancient town, you can see both indigenous and foreign influences that combined to create this unique heritage site. With its alluring beauty, historical and cultural values, hospitable locals, and exciting activities, Hoi An attracts many tourists coming to discover.
More than an ancient town, Hoi An offers various attractions to see and activities to do for you. So, let’s discover 21 best thing to do in Hoi An!
1. Cycle Around to Explore the Ancient Town
With beautiful white sandy beaches, lush rice fields and the gentle Thu Bon River, Hoi An is a perfect place for you to jump on a bicycle and cycle around this ancient town. There are many different places to cycle in Hoi An: the old town for a relaxing morning, Cam Kim Island and Tra Que Vegetable Village. And if you want to experience the traditional Vietnamese way of life, we would recommend you to cycle a short distance into the countryside. While cycling around, you can explore the historical sites, do some shopping, and sample some delicious Vietnamese food.
2. Have a Boat Trip
If you want to discover the town in a different way, instead of cycling around as most other tourists, Hoi An provides you with ample opportunities to discover it on a boat. The boat trip usually takes an hour or two to cruise along the Thu Bon River. You will sit on a coracle to row the boat with the local or a tour guide in small rivers and canals. If you don’t know how to row, don’t worry, they will show you.
This activity gives you a chance not only to enjoy Hoi An poetic landscape but also to understand the cultural features. The boat trip is more fun than you expected as you will join in other activities in Hoi An like catching fish and finding out the normal life of the locals here.
3. Order a Tailor-Made Suit
Not only famous for its colonial buildings, Hoi An is also famous for the tailoring history that dates back to the silk route. So, it would be great if you can buy a high-quality suit in this ancient city as a gift or for yourself.
You can look for a good shop at TripAdvisor and check out all the high rated shops. And, before you get fitted for a suit, remember to agree on a price first. The price will vary depending on the quality of materials. After that, they will get your measurements and you may return the next day for fitting and adjustments. Though it takes one or two days, a tailored-made suit is worth your time.
4. Buy Local Handicrafts
In addition to grandiose architecture, adventurous activities, mouthwatering cuisine, Hoi An also offers a world-class shopping experience.
If you want to buy a souvenir for your friends or family, you should consider buying local handicrafts such as silk lanterns, pottery, leather goods and many tailored clothes. You can search for these gifts in street vendors. Because this small town is well known for its fabulous shopping scene, you have many options to choose from when shopping in Hoi An. So, you can look for the best bargains and goods to buy in Hoi An.
5. Visit Japanese Covered Bridge
Hoi An’s Japanese Covered Bridge, dating back to the 18th century, is one of the most iconic attractions in Vietnam. It is a beautiful historical piece of Japanese architecture which features the sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys (the Chinese years in which many Japanese Emperors were born). It is about 60 feet in length, colorfully painted in red with a wooden pagoda roof. You can find the bridge at the west end of Tran Phu Street which is easily reached from the town center.
6. Check out Ancient Weaving Techniques in Hoi An Silk Village
Not far from the bustling center of Hoi An ancient town, Hoi An Silk Village boasts for breathing new life into the long history of the Silk Road. Surrounded by horticulture farms, lotus ponds, and mulberry gardens, it has a serene atmosphere which carries you to the old days. There are a dozen artisans working here. They manufacture and weave silk into tapestries and various garments by using ancient looms. Visiting the village, you have a chance to experience silk weaving process, feel the original silk threads, and understand the difference between fake silk and the pure silk fabric.
7. Visit Tan Ky Family House
Located at 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc street and built nearly 200 years ago, Tan Ky family house is one of several oldest houses in Hoi An. It is considered a great example of a merchant’s residence in 18th century in this major commercial port town. You can see the ingenious combination of 3 architectural styles in this house, including Vietnamese, Japanese, and Chinese style. The house was built from traditional materials such as wood, bricks, and stones which were bought from different provinces in Vietnam. Tan Ky Family house is a special house which used to welcome leaders of Vietnam and other international countries to visit. Visiting the house, you will understand why it is so unique.
8. Take a Coffee Break
The late morning, when Hoi An roads get more crowded, it is a good time to take a coffee break. As the town is home to many cafes, you don’t need to walk far to get a great cup of coffee. In some cafés in Hoi An, they even roast their own Vietnamese single origin beans so its taste becomes more special and memorable. If you are interested, the staff will explain how they source and roast their coffee as well as their different brewing methods. It would be your exciting experience to enjoy a cup brewed in the traditional stainless steel filter called “phin”.
9. Sunbathe and Swim at An Bang Beach
An Bang beach, 3 km to the east of Hoi An, is an ideal beach for sunbathing and swimming. It is voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia by TripAdvisor readers for the fourth consecutive year. The beach is famous for being one of the few white-sand beaches in Vietnam that hasn’t been spoiled by the beach tourism. That’s why many tourists have chosen this place for sunbathing and swimming. The best time for these activities in Hoi An lasts from May to September.
10. Taste Cao Lau
Cao Lau (Cao Lầu – Hoi An vermicelli) is a traditional dish in Hoi An that visitors to Hoi An always remember. “Cao lau! Cao lau!”, noodle vendors call out continuously to invite visitors try the dish. There are many restaurants selling “Cao Lau” in Hoi An. It is a combination of yellow noodles with shrimp, pork and raw vegetables. Its special feature is the yellow noodle which is mixed with cajuput firewood ash taken from Cu Lao Cham. This typical Vietnamese dish contributes to make the culinary soul retaining the old features of Hoi An street. So, you should not miss this dish when visiting Hoi An.
11. Trip to My Son Sanctuary
A trip to My Son Sanctuary is certainly a highlight in your tour when visiting Hoi An. Located in a rainforest, the amazing complex of the My Son Sanctuary is marketed as the Angkor Wat of Vietnam. Though not as impressive as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, it is one of the most amazing religious sites that are well worth the visit. Used to be the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom, it was constructed from fired brick, sandstone bas-reliefs and stone pillars. From Hoi An, you can go to this sanctuary by motorbike, taxi, or an organized tour.
12. Go Shopping in Hoi An night Market and Central Market
The Hoi An market scene is an outstanding experience that you shouldn’t miss. Hoi An Night Market and Central Market are different in personality and layout, so they will give you different feeling of shopping. The Central Market, the largest market in Hoi An, is always a hive of activities, regardless of the daytime, with crowded streets surrounding the market. Hoi An Night Market is the loudest part of Hoi An with many restaurants and bars. It is highlighted by colorful lights of a few shops selling ubiquitous lanterns. In these markets, you can find the same range of fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, and other essentials.
13. Contemplate the Fujian Assembly Hall
As a symbolic icon of Hoi An architecture, Fujian Assembly Hall has gained a reputation as a heritage masterpiece of great historical importance. It was created as a place in which those from Fujian in China could meet up and socialize while living or visiting Hoi An. To see the hall in its full glory, you should visit it during a Chinese festival. It is worth your time admiring the artwork, animal pictures and statues, and Thien Hau temple which is dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of the sea and also the caretaker of sailors.
14. Tour Quan Cong Temple
Another beautiful example of Chinese craftsmanship in Hoi An is Quan Cong temple, named after an ancient loyal Chinese general. The temple is a striking sight with the reds, golds and greens, attracting a lot of local and foreign visitors. It is surrounded by brick walls, and the main bearings are wooden pillars. Roofs are constructed by horizontal and vertical slat which are arranged in a complex way. Visiting this place, you have an opportunity to admire the sophisticated and beautiful decoration and feel the solemn characteristic which is typical in worship spaces of East Asia.
15. Visit Phung Hung Old House
Just stepping down from the Japanese Covered Bridge, you can see the wide and welcoming entrance hall of Phung Hung Old House. This house has the Yin and Yang style roof traditionally made out of convex designs. The house is a unique mixture of two different architectural styles that can you can see clearly in its 2 floors. The ground floor has the Japanese style in designing four-sided roof and the upper floor shows the Chinese design with a round shaped roof. Until now, there are eight generations that have lived in this house. So, it is a perfect place to get to know more about local culture and daily life of people in the past.
16. Visit Hoi An Lantern Market
You can find the Lantern Market just over on the other side of the river. Here, they also sell pretty much the same souvenirs and trinkets that you may see in other parts of Vietnam. But the most beautiful and impressive scenery is the lanterns at night. It allures a lot of tourists come and take photos. There are around 5 stalls offering a truly gorgeous sight of lanterns. And these lanterns are so outstanding that you might need to fight your way towards them so you can get a photo. You may not forget this wonderful picture when you go back to your country.
17. Eat Banh Mi Hoi An
It will amaze you that when you search for the phrase “the best banh mi in the world”, one of the first results will mention “Banh mi Phuong, Hoi An”. So when visiting this ancient town, you should consider sampling “Banh mi”. Why is this dish so special? It is a good combination of many ingredients together: pork floss, grilled pork, pork liver pate, handmade mayonnaise, long sliced cucumber, pickled papaya,… The “banh mi” Hoi An is crispy on the outside, soft and airy inside, and you cannot find this taste anywhere else but Hoi An.
18. Discover Marble Mountain
Just driving 20 km to the north of Hoi An, you will meet Marble Mountain or a small group of 5 “mountains”. They are translated as Mountains of Five Elements, which means Kim (metal), Moc (wood), Thuy (water), Hoa (fire), and Tho (earth). Marble Mountain is quite alluring with numerous tunnels and cave entrances. It is famous for stone-making, stone sculpture and stone-cutting crafts. It offers some activities to do such as climbing the Mountain of Water (Thuy Son), visiting Tam Thai Pagoda, and abseiling down numerous holes into the cave palaces.
19. Relax at Beaches
Cycling 4 km from the center of the gorgeous Hoi An ancient town, you will find Cua Dai and An Bang beaches. With golden, find sand covered beaches, spectacular palm trees, and clear turquoise water, these beaches are perfect for spending a relaxing day or doing some recreational activities like swimming, sunbathing and other water sports. Especially on summer days, they are cannot-be-missed spots in any Hoi An tours so visitors can enjoy the pretty view of East Sea and cool off.
20. Scuba Diving
With hundreds of different varieties of coral and tropical fish living in the warm tropical waters, scuba diving and snorkeling in Hoi An becomes superb activities off the coast of the town. Some diving sites scattering in Cu Lao Cham island, just 21 km from Hoi An old town, will give you unforgettable experiences with a teeming marine life. With a reasonable price, you can take a day trip to the remote parts of Cham Islands and join in other cultural activities as well.
21. Join a Cooking Class
For food lovers, joining a cooking class where you can learn cooking and tasting traditional Vietnamese dishes in Hoi An is a great idea. Nowadays, there are many cooking classes teaching how to cook Vietnamese and Hoi An-styled dishes, varying from simple to complicated, which are suitable for your interests, expectations and needs. The classes normally start with a morning walk trip to the market for buying necessary ingredients. Then, you will go to a small and intimate kitchen to learn how to cook traditional dishes. After the class, you can taste your own creations while enjoying a spectacular river view.