Hoi An is possibly my favorite place in Vietnam (although I could claim a close tie with Ha Long Bay!) and definitely one of my top picks for people to visit in South East Asia. The old part of the town is incredibly picturesque, full of wonderful architecture, culture, food, and history. The few days I spent there on a trip around Vietnam were far too brief! Check out the list below of ten things to see and do (in no particular order) in this great little place in Vietnam!
1. Explore Old Town by Bike
One of the easiest ways to get around Hoi An is by bike. Most hotels and guesthouses provide them free of charge but, if yours doesn’t, there are plenty of places to rent one. Once you have your bike, cruise around Old Town, stopping to see some of the historic sights (like #2 the Japanese Bridge, or #3 one of the Assembly or Communal Halls). You can also ride them out of town to nearby attractions like the Pottery Village (see #4) or to the beach (like An Bang, in #5).
Cost: Free! I did not have to pay for a bike since it was provided free of charge by my hotel. You can read a full review of the awesome place I stayed here! Renting one will only cost between $1-2 a day.
Insider Tip: Make sure to lock your bike up when you make a stop in Old Town. Although I never felt unsafe or a threat of theft, it is always better to be safe than sorry and owe money to your hotel or the bike rental shop.
2. Japanese Bridge
An iconic image of Hoi An, the Japanese Bridge is definitely one of the top things to see in the historical Old Town. Built in what was formerly the Japanese Quarter, this covered bridge is a unique and beautiful symbol of the town. While it is lovely during the day, it also lights up at night.
Cost: A ticket for entrance to the Old Town and five historical sites within it cost 120,000 dong (~$5). This includes the Japanese Covered bridge, which you really must see!
Insider Tip: You can avoid paying for the bridge by taking pictures outside. Once you pay though, you can walk across and down another street in Old Town to even more historical sights included in the ticket to Old Town. Definitely worth it!
3. Historic Sights
There are many different historical sights available to see with purchase of a ticket to Old Town. While the ticket on allows entry into 5 of these places, they provide a map to help you better decide. I would definitely recommend going to see at least one Assembly Hall, one Communal Hall, and old house and maybe a temple. What you are most interested in will dictate what you see. Everything is fascinating and beautifully well preserved.
Cost: These halls are included in the entrance ticket for Old Town which cost 120,000 dong (~$5).
Insider Tip: Once you purchase the Old Town entrance ticket, you are given access to five historical sights. I would recommend including the Japanese bridge (see #2) and one of the assembly halls in your choices. The Vietnamese Government and local town officials request that visitors dress appropriately when visiting the historical sights.
4. Pottery Village
Located about 15-20 min away on a bike, the Thanh Ha Pottery Village is well worth a trip. The village gives visitors a glimpse of a traditional pottery village and many of the families that live there still produce pottery and clay works. It is possible to visit these potteries and even try your hand at creating your very own pot! The village includes an informative museum that also houses a collection of pieces excavated from a nearby site and small replicas of real world monuments. I had a great time!
Cost: An entrance ticket to the pottery village is 25,000 dong (~$). If you would to visit the museum (I found it interesting) there is an additional charge of 30,000 dong (~$). Making your own or painting pottery is also an additional cost. Prices vary depending on which potter you visit.
Insider Tip: There is a parking lot near the entrance that you have to pay to park your bike. Skip it and ride around with your bike to the different shops. If you want to make some pottery to take home with you, make sure to do that first! This gives the clay time to dry while you look around the village or the museum.
5. An Bang Beach
Another short 20 minute bike ride from Hoi An is a popular beach called An Bang. It is a great place for a beach day and people watching. On the weekends, the locals flock to the beach to spend time together and eat meals on pop up restaurants along the beach. I spent a relaxing afternoon here one day during my visit.
Cost: Free to visit the beach! If you ride your bike, you will have to pay to park it.
Insider Tip: It is a bother that you have to pay to park your bike, but if you ride a little bit you can find places that let you park for ‘free’ as long as you buy something form them. I bought a water form one place and got to park my bike not too far from the main entrance to the beach. Just keep an eye out as you approach the beach.
6. Have something tailor made
A popular activity for tourists in Vietnam is to get a piece of clothing made by a tailor. While there are a ton of shops to choose from, our hotel suggested BeBe to me and my friend and they did not disappoint! We visited the shop one morning during our stay and had brand new, custom-made rompers by the afternoon! It is a really fun experience getting to choose out the fabric for your clothing and trying it on later to see how it all fits. The ladies at BeBe were incredibly friendly and professional. I highly recommend their services. Not everyone can claim to have something specifically made to fit their body – give it a try!
Cost: The price of your clothing really depends on what you decide to get made. Things that utilize less fabric will be cheaper. My romper cost about 1,000,000 dong ($45) for same-day service. Something like a skirt would be cheaper. Many clients we saw were getting dresses and suits made.
Insider Tip: If you would like something but are pressed on time, it is best to visit the shop early in the morning. This gives them the chance to work on it during the day and return the finished product to you by the afternoon! Such a quick turn around!
7. Eat an authentic banh mi sandwich (or two… or three…)
According to the famous chef Anthony Bourdain, Hoi An is home to the best Banh Mi sandwich. I happened to stumble across this gem while riding around on my bike and stopped in for a quick bite. The name of the shop is Banh Mi Phuong and the lines usually run out of it into the street, and for a good reason! The sandwiches here are amazing and incredibly affordable. I recommend getting a traditional sandwich with all of the toppings, though you can’t go wrong no matter what you order. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water…
Cost: A typical sandwich cost about 20,000 dong ($1)
Insider Tip: The line gets really long here but do not fear – the staff is extremely efficient and will have your order to you in no time!
8. Enjoy more food!
Hoi An has a great selection of restaurants that can satisfy most cravings. Two that I visited and highly recommend are Morning Glory and Good Morning Vietnam. The former hosts a great cooking class during the day that gives participants the chance to make authentic vietnamese food with a focus on traditional street food. Good Morning Vietnam, on the other hand, was some of the best Italian food I have enjoyed in quite some time. Aside from these two (which are located next door to each other) there are lots and lots of choices of restaurants all around the town.
Another great way to enjoy the local food is to take a cooking class. There are tons of places that offer classes in Hoi An. An easy way to find one that fits your needs and budget it to look on Cookly, a site dedicated to offering travelers a way to compare and book authentic cooking classes. Check out their list of Hoi An cooking classes here!
Cost: Menu items at both restaurants range from 60,000 to 160,000 dong ($3-$8) based on what you order. Everything is delicious!
Insider Tip: If you do decide to go to either Morning Glory or Good Morning Vietnam, plan for an earlier dinner. The lines and waits at both places can get quite long due to their popularity!
9. Take a ride in a traditional Cyclo
I had never seen or heard of a ‘cyclo’ before seeing them in Vietnam, but these three-wheeler bikes are a great way to see more of Hoi An. This mode of transportation was introduced during the French Colonial period. While it no longer serves as a way for the Vietnamese to get around, it is still popular among tourists. In Old Town, you can find many drivers who are more than willing to take tourists around for a ride.
Cost: The cost of your ride depends on your driver and your negotiating skills. Most drivers in Hoi An seemed to start around 300,000 dong (~$14).
Insider Tip: Always make sure to negotiate the price and length of time before you get in. Some drivers will not want to haggle much, since they believe foreigners can afford to pay more (for the most part they are right!). Still, it never hurts to try!
A popular activity in Hoi An is shopping! The town is home to several markets and shops both in and around the area of of Old Town. For a daytime market, check out Central Market. While it may not have the feel of a traditional Vietnamese market these days, you can still find some cool bits and bobs around and a quick snack. In the evening across the river follow the lights to the lantern stalls. They are so stunningly beautiful when lit up at night and are a great souvenir. All along the streets in Old Town are loads of shops selling all kinds of goods – shop until you drop!
Cost: Depends entirely on how much you buy. Items range from the very cheap (around $1) to a moderate price (~$20)
Insider Tip: Vietnam is famous of its silk lanterns. I recommend buying one in Hoi An – they are simply exquisite! There are many shops and vendors that sell them so make sure to look around for one you really like!
Have you been to Hoi An? What are your favorite things to do? Share in the comments!
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.