The small town Hoi An might be Vietnam’s most delightful and atmospheric place to visit. With its grand architecture along the riverside Hoi An attracts many tourists. Here you will find Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and ancient tea warehouses as well as lounge bars, boutique hotels, travel agents and countless tailor shops. But although the center and its old town can get very crowded from time to time, you will always manage to find a quiet and nice spot somewhere. Just grab a bicycle or motorbike and some of central Vietnam’s most laid-back scenery and beaches are within easy reach.
How to get there?
Hoi An can easily be reached via Da Nang. You can either fly to Da Nang International Airport or go there by bus or train. From Da Nang you can take public bus No. 1. It will reach Hoi An within 30-45 min.
Exploring the old town of Hoi An was our personal highlight. We really enjoyed to wander around the tiny streets and admire the old buildings. There are so many nice places to stop for a short break, snack or cup of coffee. And all of a sudden you will find yourself sitting somewhere enjoying the scenery for hours. At night the place becomes quite magical as a lot of colorful lanterns decorate the streets. Make sure to also visit the nightmarket. To enter the old town you have to buy a ticket (5 EUR). It is valid for several days and will also give you access to the tourists sights.
How long to stay?
Somehow time seems to fly when you are in Hoi An. Wandering around the old town is so enjoyable you can easily get lost between the beautiful buildings for hours. Especially at night when the colorful lanterns come out. Furthermore there are so many cute places to hang out while having a snack and a nice cup of coffee or tea. We recommend to stay at least for 2-3 nights. It is not just the city itself which you should explore. There is also the beach, the surrounding villages and of course it will take some time until the tailor finished your awesome dress or suit.
Where to stay?
We decided to treat ourselves to some luxury in Hoi An as we were staying for 5 nights. The place we stayed at was the Goda Boutique Hotel for 20 EUR per night/double room. This included breakfast, a pretty and clean room, free bicycle rental, a swimming pool and some really good service. If you decide to stay for more than one night you will also be invited for a nice five course dinner. There also are countless homestays in town which will suit almost any budget.
Hoi An Free Tour Booking a bicycle tour with Hoi An Free Tour is a good way to get in touch with local students and explore Hoi An and its surrounding villages in a special way. Furthermore you will support local communities. We did the tour to “Kim Bong Carpentry Village“ and really enjoyed being taken off the beaten track and into the real village life. You can either bring a bicycle (most hotels or homestays will give you one for free) or rent one via the tour operator (about 1,50 EUR). You will also pay around 2 EUR for a return ticket with the local ferry and a small donation to one of the villagers. Water Coconut Village This village is within easy reach of the Hoi An city center (about 4 km) and absolutely worth a visit. It is very peaceful and quiet and the landscape is great. We saw lots of tour operators offering very expensive trips to this village, but we decided to save the 40 $ and go there on our own. Once you enter the village you will see signs offering you a tour in a so called “basket boat“ almost everywhere. People might even come after you on their scooters to offer you a tour. We ended up taking a tour at Phi Thúng for 6 EUR (we accidentally took a dead end road and ended up at this place). The boat trip took about 35 min and the old lady who showed us around kept building awesome palm tree jewelry for us. Beach There are two beaches close to Hoi An: Cua Dai and An Bang. Cua Dai beach strongly suffers from beach erosion and actually there is not a real beach anymore. You can stop there for a short visit, but if you want to spend some quality time at the beach we recommend to go a little further to An Bang beach. Old Garden Restaurant This restaurant is a great place to try some local specialities like Cao Lau, Won Ton or the famous White Rose. If you take a food tour around Hoi An they will most probably also take you here. Banh Mi Phuong Banh Mi is another delicious food you definitely should try while being in Hoi An. It is a kind of sandwich and you probably will get the best one in whole Vietnam at this place. Trying the no. 3 (mixed) is a must. MITTA Burger Just in case you are fed up with Vietnamese food at some point and a burger might be just the thing you need: Go to this place! It is not only the cutest small burger shop we have ever been to, the burgers also are absolutely delicious. And the couple who runs the place is adorable. We had a really long chat with them and enjoyed sitting in their small restaurant for hours. Noodle Soup (Pho) We love Pho. We could eat it all day. For breakfast, lunch and dinner. So we always enjoy having that one place where we most likely will get a delicious bowl of noodle soup. In Hoi An we spent lots of time at a small place right next to the Motorvina Motorbike Rental. It is a typical little street food place and the lady who cooks the soup is adorable. Tailor Shop There are countless tailor shops in Hoi An. You will see them everywhere and they will make every wish come true. Just go there with a picture of what you want and you most likely will be able to pick it up within 1-2 days. Make sure to review some shops before you decide to buy something. Always bargain hard and make sure you will get what you paid for in the end (check the material and make sure it fits well). Probably every hotel or homestay has its own recommendations, but just pick the one you feel most comfortable with. A friend from Da Nang recommend these places as locals go there too: Bao Diep Tailor (clothes) and New Stars (leather shoes and bags).