travel Vietnam

7 Amazing Experiences in Hoi An, Vietnam

November 6, 2018
Hoi An Old Town

Hội An, (aka Hoi An or Faifoo) located in central Vietnam about a 45 minute drive from the city of Da Nang, often emerges as a favourite among travellers of Vietnam, myself included.

Girl in floral trouser on bridge in Hoi An Vietnam

Formerly known as Faifoo, Hoi An is known for its well-preserved ancient town featuring a mix of Japanese, Chinese, French, and Vietnamese architecture, situated on a number of canals (earning it the nickname ‘Venice of the East’) on the Thu Bồn River. Lined with lush palm trees and with multicoloured silk lanterns hanging everywhere, combined with gorgeous beaches makes it an unmissable destination.

While it can be easily seen in a couple of days, stay longer if possible, taking in all the sights, and make sure to include the following in your visit to Hoi An, Vietnam.

*Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase

Visit Hoi An’s Ancient Town sites

Colourful shop fronts and silk lanterns line Hoi An Old Town streets in central Vietnam

If you’ve been travelling around Vietnam already before arriving in Hoi An, you’ll probably find the pedestrianised Ancient Town as a much needed break from the crazy motorcycles. It is full of tourists in their place, but as we were there slightly in the off season (October) we were usually the only ones at each of the sites.

Phuc Kien Assembly Hall Hoi An Anicent Town Vietnam

To see the sites of the Ancient Town, you purchase a ticket at one of the offices (there’s one right outside the Japanese Bridge) allowing you into five sites out of 21 of your choice at 120k Dong. We stopped by:

  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Old House if Phung Hùng
  • Quang Trieu Assembly Hall
  • Quam Am Pagoda
  • Quang Cong Temple
Japanese covered bridge Hoi An Old Town
Japanese Covered Bridge
Phung Hung House Hoi An Ancient Town Vietnam

Shop at Hoi An’s Night Market

Hoi An’s night market is a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts, try some local food, or just soak up the lantern-lit atmosphere. Around 50 stalls line the street, selling the usual souvenirs such as magnets and shotglasses, as well as jewellery, bags, clothes, silk lanterns and more.

Street vendor making silk lanterns in Hoi An Ancient Town Vietnam

Like any market in Vietnam, you can haggle on prices, and the stall holders are generally willing to make a deal if you buy more than one of an item. There’s also several stalls selling sweet treats, and we snacked on some Thai-style banana pancakes as we browsed.

For ideas on what to bring home from Vietnam, see my souvenir buying guide.

It opens from 6-10pm everyday, and after you can stop by one of the nearby bars for happy hour (which in many places lasts most of the evening).

Take a boat to see Hoi An by night

As with any tourist area in Vietnam, you’ll probably find the constant flow of pushy sales people annoying; in Hoi An it is the constant chorus of “boat boat! Lantern ride!” that will interrupt a walk down the river.

But it is a gorgeous way to enjoy all the lights in the town, rowed by a bamboo boat down the river and lighting lanterns to place in the water.

Keep in mind that you can haggle the price down, they tend to start high at about 300k dong, but we were there on a quiet night and managed to get the price down to 100k.

Admire the silk lanterns

Beautiful glowing silk Vietnamese lanterns for sale at a street vendor in Hoi An Vietnam

One of the things that makes Hoi An so enchanting is the thousands of silk lanterns that adorn the streets of this town in every colour. Take a walk during the day and then come back at night to see them lit up.

Pink and orange silk lanterns hang from the streets of Hoi An Vietnam
Silk Vietnamese lanterns and flowering trees line the streets of Hoi An, Vietnam

You can also watch these being made at stalls and shops and even take a few home. Before we left, we picked up a few from a local stall. We did have the challenge of carry around the remainder of the trip, but they arrived home in one piece.

Silk Vietnamese lanterns light up streets of Hoi An Old Town Vietnam

Treat yourself to some custom tailored clothing

Girl getting tailor made clothes at Fai Foo tailors in Hoi An Vietnam

Hoi An is famous for its tailors, and the streets are full of places offering custom made garments. As someone who measures 5 feet tall, the thought of getting something that actually fit my proportions was too good to pass up. I came home with a beautiful new teal work dress and a perfectly fitting black jumpsuit. Meanwhile, Matt had a new suit made; my only regret was not buying more.

I have heard the quality and value for money can vary across the tailors. After we arrived in Hoi An, our driver dropped us in Hoi An and recommended one, Faifoo. I’m usually wary of these types of recommendations, knowing tours often recommend places based on getting commission. But this place was brilliant. They had a real eye for detail. They also managed to get us the pieces ready in a very short time span, and was reasonably priced. I’ve already worn my dress a few times and it seems very well made.

Fai Foo Tailors Hoi An Vietnam

Try the local food

Each region of Vietnam has its own local specialities and the central region is no different. Hoi An also has a few dishes that are unique to this town alone.

Noodle soups are popular everywhere, with many different local takes. Hoi An is famous for it Cau Lau, a soup made with thick, chewy noodles and pork.

Banh Mi, a crisp but soft baguette filled with your choice of meat is also very popular in Hoi An. We found a great place just outside the Ancient Town, Bahn Mi Phuong.

Relax at the beach

Beach with palm trees near Hoi An

Admittedly we didn’t spend much beach time in Hoi An. The place we stayed had a pool that we wanted to enjoy and our time was quite limited. There are two main beaches, An Bang and Cua Dai  . My recommendation is to skip Cua Dai, it isn’t the cleanest or most scenic and you can’t swim there. Instead, go to An Bang, staying for dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant.

The need to knows

Palm tree Hoi An Ancient Town Vietnam

Where to stay

I’d recommend staying near the Ancient Town if you can. There is so much to see and do there so it’s good to be in walking distance. You can always use a bike if you want to get to the beach. Some accommodation even let you borrow these for free. We used Green Tea Homestay, about a 15 minute walk into the Old Town, and loved it. It was really peaceful with a pool and fantastic breakfast.

You can find more accommodation near the Ancient Town here.

Getting to Hoi An

Hoi An has no rail or airport, so you’ll have to transfer there via Da Nang or Hue. This can be done by motorbike (which I’m terrified of), with a driver or by bus. Da Nang is closer and you can often get a cab to Hoi An or hire private transfer. We got a private transfer from Da Nang and then another one on to Hue. Both included tours to see some of the sites nearby such as the Marble Mountains and Hai Van Pass. Some transfers can be customised to what you want to see between places, which was useful for us. As we took two transfers, we got to see different sites both times.

Your Ultimate Guide to Hoi An Vietnam

*Disclosure: this post contains some affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase

  • Reply
    briannamarielifestyle
    November 6, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    Wow so cool!
    Brianna | https://briannamarielifestyle.com

  • Reply
    Han Armstrong
    November 7, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    wow, looks like such a beautiful place! x

    Han | lifewithhan.blog

  • Reply
    hellolizziebee
    November 11, 2018 at 9:36 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this travel guide! I’ve always wanted to explore the less popular Asian destinations, but it’s always hard to find blog posts on them. And that lantern boat ride sounds simply magical!

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      November 11, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Thank you! Yes this trip was quite difficult to plan because I couldn’t find many guides beforehand, but it’s such an amazing place!

  • Reply
    Chloe Elizabeth
    November 11, 2018 at 10:24 am

    Gosh what a gorgeous place to visit! xx

  • Reply
    glowsteady
    November 11, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Wow this is gorgeous! I love your photos and this is a fabulous guide. Never been to Vietnam but this is really helpful x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  • Reply
    Seeking Wonderful
    November 14, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I’ve only heard amazing things about this place. Those silk lanterns are stunning!

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      November 26, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      It seems to end up being so many people’s favourite, and it definitely didn’t disappoint, I already want to go back!

  • Reply
    Top Tips for Exploring Da Nang, Vietnam – Off a Small Island
    November 20, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    […] visitors use Da Nang as a hub to see Hoi An, but I think this charming town deserves a few days of its own. That said, there are plenty of […]

  • Reply
    Hollie
    December 9, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Thank you sharing this – thinking of doing Vietnam next year so enjoying reading up about it!

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      December 9, 2018 at 10:44 am

      It’s a country that is definitely worth seeing! I’ll be posting a lot more tips in the coming weeks so do keep an eye out! 🙂

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    fleurdelailis
    March 9, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Will definitely be making a stop here! Sounds magical and the place you stayed at sounds amazing. How many days do you recommend to stay here?

    • Reply
      Off a Small Island
      March 9, 2019 at 4:15 pm

      Depends how long you have, I’d say 4 would be lovely, especially if you like the beach!

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