From pristine beaches to lush green forests, Hoi An provides tourists with a glimpse of the very best that Vietnam has to offer. The city is famous for its restaurants and stunning historic architecture, as well as abundance of colorful things to see and do.
Providing both a relaxing beach holiday and bustling little city life, you’ll find a lot to do (or not to do) in Hoi An. It’s a short drive 45 minutes south of Da Nang, where you’ll fitness the rapid development between the two cities. Massive hotel resorts line the coast between the cities, attracting people from all over the world to stay and play in Central Vietnam.
Hội An’s best things to do
Located in Central Vietnam less than an hour south of Da Nang, Hoi An is a beautiful coastal city known for its unique lanterns, among dozens of other cultural attractions. It’s one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the country. You can find a range of overnight accommodations, including some of the best luxury hotels in Hoi An, like the Four Seasons Resort.
Here are the top tourist attractions in Hoi An, Vietnam, in no particular order:
1. Hoi An Ancient Town
Probably even more popular than the city’s beaches is its old town. The Hoi An Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre because of all its colorful history as a coastal city between the 15th and 19th century. Hoi An was a prominent port in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, resulting in a fusion of local and foreign culture.
The magnificent Ancient Town is an automobile-free zone, so it’s perfect for strolling. You can also ride a bicycle through it, perhaps ask your hotel if they have them for borrow. The region is lined with shops, restaurants and historic buildings. Many old homes are open for touring, you can even buy a day pass for admission to the old town’s main attractions.
2. Float Lanterns Down the Thu Bon River
One of the most exciting, and certainly colorful events in Southeast Asia is the Hoi An Lantern Festival. It’s held on the fourteenth day of each Lunary Month, which represents the fullest, brightest moon. So you can join in this fun one magical night a month all year long. Imagine a flock of tiny paper lanterns floating down the Thu Bon River, adding to the already sparkling lights of Hoi An’s Old Town.
Some say the prime time to visit is the February festival because it’s the first Lunar Month of the lunar new year. You can check that out on February 8, 2020. Wishes for peace and health are sent out with every carefully crafted lantern, a traditional form of art.
Even the city reduces their electricity and lighting use that evening to emphasize the glowing candles. It’s free for all to witness and partake in. It’s the busiest day of the month in town, so book your accommodations early.
3. Make a Trip to the Old House of Hoi An
This historic ‘Old House’ of Phun Hong is one of the most beautiful ancient homes in the city, and it preserves Hoi An’s traditional architecture. What makes this house truly special is the fact that the original family still lives here, going eight generations strong! The Old House is a unique blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture, with an interior décor worth checking out.
Address: 4 Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
4. Sunbathe on An Bang Beach
If you want to escape the bustling city life, then head to Vietnam’s busiest beach called An Bang Beach. It offers access to a clear blue ocean and a sandy shoreline. The An Bang Beach is popular with both honeymooners and backpackers alike, and it has something to suit all budgets.
Moreover, An Bang Beach is one of the few coastal areas in the world that hasn’t been affected by rapid development and soil erosion. You will find more sand here than at any other coastal spots.
Address: Hai Bà Trưng, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam
5. Stroll Through the Central Market
The Central Market in Hoi An provides a focal point for piecing together Vietnam’s rich cultural past. It’s located in the heart of the city, only a few minutes away from the riverside. The large market is packed to the brim with vendors and stalls, each of which offers delicious food. The Central Market is a popular venue that perfectly reflects the multicultural diversity of the city.
Address: 73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong, Hội An, Quảng Nam
6. Learn to Cook Vietnamese Food
Speaking of cuisine, Hoi An is full of cooking schools that teach you how to make some of the most popular local dishes. Among the more famous of these establishments is the Red Bridge Cooking School, which has been giving cooking courses to tourists for over 10 years now.
They also offer tours that include a walk through the picturesque Tra Que Herb Garden. These introductory-level cooking classes take place in a stunning heritage building with a romantic backdrop. It’s a full restaurant as well serving local fare.
Address: Thon 4, Hội An, Quang Nam Province
7. Drop by the Old House of Tan Ky
Yet another memorable tourist spot in Hoi An is the Old House of Tan Ky, where the fine line between a residence and a museum tends to get a little blurred. The Old House was built over 200 years ago and is still inhabited by the original family that has lovingly preserved it through seven generations. The place is architecturally significant and shows a unique blend of Chinese and Japanese influences.
The interior is detailed by beautiful Chinese poems written on 150-year-old panels. Japanese elements can be found in the sitting area which is supported by three beams that sit on top of one another. The back of the house faces the river, and it features two pulleys that were used to move goods into storage.
Address: 101 Nguyễn Thái Học, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
8. Visit the Hoi An Silk Village
Hoi An Silk Village is the ideal place to visit if you want to check out the ancient weaving techniques for which the local population is known. The Silk Village is only one kilometer away from the city center and is filled with homes built in the traditional style. You will find many artisans who will enthusiastically teach you the science of making elaborate tapestries.
They even let you feed the silkworms to help the silk thread unravel from the cocoon. You will, most likely, find a suitable trinket or souvenir as a gift.
Address: 28 Nguyễn Tất Thành, Tân An, Vietnam, Quảng Nam
9. Dine-In at These Restaurants
Hoi An is widely known as the food capital of Vietnam, and it offers a wide variety of ethnic cuisines. One of its specialties is White Rose, which is made from translucent white dough filled with spiced pork or minced shrimp, with the outer section resembling flower petals. You simply won’t find this dish anywhere else in Vietnam or the world for that matter!
White Rose is the only place in Hoi An that knows the complex, secret recipe, so make sure to drop by at the White Rose restaurant when you’re in the area. They only have two dishes on their menu, making it easy to choose your pick.
Address: 533 Hai Bà Trưng, Phường Cẩm Phổ, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Other great restaurants to try are:
Mango Mango: this restaurant is run by the famous chef Tran Duc who is an expert in Vietnamese cuisine. He makes some interesting cocktails that use fun ingredients like fruit and chocolate. Plus, the restaurant offers scenic views over the Japanese Bridge that lights up at night, so make sure to get a table upstairs to get the best view.
Address: 45 Nguyễn Phúc Chu, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Morning Glory: this restaurant is frequently mentioned in most Hoi An guides, and rightfully so. It has the best traditional Vietnamese food items that are known for their delicious taste and impeccable presentation. The chef’s specialties include the Ban Xheo pancakes and My Quang noodles. Although the restaurant is a bit pricey, its food is worth every dong you spend.
Address: 106 Nguyễn Thái Học, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
10. Invest in a Tailor-Made Suit
Hoi An has a bustling textile industry and knowledgeable tailors who know their craft inside out. You’ll find over 400 specialist tailors, and can you choose from a plethora of textiles, patterns, and silks to personalize your clothes.
Just a heads-up: you will need to wait at least three days to get your clothes made for simpler designs, and up to seven days for more elaborate patterns. The good news is that since there is so much competition among tailors, you should find a good bargain.
11. Explore the Countryside
By far the best place to discover the true beauty of Vietnam and what makes this country so special is the countryside. You’ll find rich rice fields, water buffalos, and a blue sky that seems to stretch on endlessly. Make sure to add a trip to the countryside to your itinerary since this will be the highlight of your trip. Check out these two villages in the countryside:
Tra Que Village: Start by visiting the Tra Que Village, a place known for producing the cleanest food in Hoi An. Local farmers grow vegetables using organic farming techniques, and this explains why Hoi An is so popular for its local food. A quick visit to Tra Que will give you a bird’s-eye view of how farmers grow their vegetables, and if you ask them nicely, you can even take part in growing and watering them.
Cam Thanh Coconut Village: If you can squeeze out time during the day, then try visiting the Cam Thanh Coconut village. It is the most beautiful village in Hoi An’s countryside and attracts many tourists every day. It’s famous for its palm forest, which is significant because of how it serves the ecosystem.
You can learn about the daily life of Vietnamese fishermen and explore the wetland. To make the most out of your experience, make sure to sail on a basket boat.
12. Check Out the Lantern Market in Nguyen Hoang Street
Hoi An feels like a whole new world when you visit the Lantern Market at night. Every evening, the street of Nguyen Hoang transforms into a sea of vivid colors that are insanely popular among the locals and tourists alike. You’ll find young couples, dressed in their finest clothes, posing in front of the local shops. Most vendors will ask for a tiny amount of money if you decide to take pictures in front of their stores.
If you visit the Hoi An Night Market, don’t forget to buy their signature lanterns. They are easy to carry around since they fold down flat and weigh next to nothing when packed in your suitcase. This makes them the perfect souvenirs.
Address: Nguyễn Hoàng, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
13. Visit My Son Ruins
My Son Ruins is a collection of ancient temples that were developed from the 4th to the 13th Century. It’s classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and has been preserved after the temples were abandoned for centuries. Think of My Son as a time capsule that zaps you back into the past, giving you a snapshot of what ancient Hinduism would have looked like.
Address: Duy Phú, Duy Xuyên District, Quang Nam Province
14. Go to the Fujian Assembly Hall
The Fujian Assembly Hall is a World Cultural Heritage that has always attracted a lot of attention from tourists. If you’re a fan of ancient architecture, then you’ll appreciate the significance of the Fujian Hall.
It features altars adorned with delicately-carved dragons, bronze bells, statues, and drums. You’ll find an abundance of mythical creatures, such as the Phoenix that symbolize nobility and the Unicorn that signifies knowledge.
Address: 46 Trần Phú, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam
These are just some of the activities you can try in Hoi An. Try them all to make your trip a memorable one!