Hoi An is a beautiful and charming ancient town in central Vietnam, in the Quang Nam province. It is known for its well-preserved ancient buildings, colorful lanterns, delicious food, and beautiful beaches.
If you’re planning a trip to Hoi An, here is a comprehensive travel guide to help you make the most of your time in this charming town.
Table of Contents
- History of Hoi An
- Best Time to Visit
- How to Get to Hoi An
- Things to Do in Hoi An
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- Getting Around Hoi An
- Tips For Visiting Hoi
History of Hoi An
Hoi An was a thriving port town during the 15th to 19th centuries. It was an important trading center that linked Vietnam with other countries, including China, Japan, and Europe.
The town was known as Faifo by the Chinese, who were the first to settle in the area. The Japanese also had a significant presence in Hoi An during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Hoi An’s ancient town has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.
The town’s architecture reflects the cultural influences of the Chinese, Japanese, and European traders who lived there. Hoi An has also been influenced by the Cham people, who were the area’s original inhabitants.
Best time to visit Hoi An
The best time to visit Hoi An is from February to April or August to October when the weather is mild and dry.
During these months, you can enjoy Hoi An’s beautiful beaches and explore the ancient town without being overwhelmed by the heat and crowds. The peak season for tourism in Hoi An is from June to August, when the weather is hot and humid.
How to get to Hoi An
The nearest airport to Hoi An is the Da Nang International Airport, about 30 kilometers away. You can take a taxi or private car from the airport to Hoi An, which will take about 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take a bus from Da Nang to Hoi An, which takes about an hour. Buses run regularly between the two cities, and tickets can be purchased at the bus station or through a travel agency.
Things to do in Hoi An
There are plenty of things to do in Hoi An, from exploring the ancient town to relaxing on the beach. Here are some of the top activities you can enjoy in Hoi An:
Explore the ancient town
The ancient town of Hoi An is the main attraction in the town. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with many well-preserved buildings and temples. You can take a walking tour of the town or rent a bike and explore independently.
Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge, also known as the Cau Chua Pagoda or the Lai Vien Kieu Bridge is located in the heart of Hoi An Ancient Town.
The bridge is a unique and beautiful architectural structure that reflects the influence of Japanese and Chinese cultures.
The bridge was originally built in the early 17th century by the Japanese community in Hoi An to connect the Japanese quarter with the Chinese quarter across a small stream.
It underwent several renovations and expansions over the centuries, and in the 18th century, a small temple was added to the bridge’s northern side.
The bridge’s unique features include its wooden structure, intricate carvings, and a small pagoda on top of it.
The pagoda is dedicated to Tran Vo Bac De, a Taoist deity believed to protect sailors and fishermen.
Today, the Japanese Covered Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town. It is an excellent example of the fusion of different cultures and styles in Vietnamese architecture.
Visitors can walk across the bridge and explore the temple on its northern side, which houses a collection of historical artifacts and art.
Shop at the local markets
Hoi An has several local markets to buy souvenirs, clothing, and local specialties. Here are some you can visit:
- Hoi An Central Market: This is Hoi An’s largest and most popular market, located in the heart of the old town. Here, you can find various goods, including fresh produce, local specialties, clothing, souvenirs, and handicrafts.
- Night Market: As I mentioned earlier, the night market in Hoi An is a lively and colorful place to shop and explore. It’s located on Nguyen Hoang street, near the Japanese Covered Bridge, and it features stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to street food and souvenirs.
- An Hoi Market: This market is located in the An Hoi neighborhood on the other side of the river from the old town. It’s a smaller market, but it’s still worth a visit if you’re looking for local handicrafts, clothing, or souvenirs.
- Cloth Market: If you’re interested in textiles and fabrics, the Cloth Market in Hoi An is the place to go. It’s located on Tran Phu street, and it’s home to dozens of stalls selling various fabrics, from silk and cotton to linen and wool.
- Con Market: This market is located outside the old town, but it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. You can find everything from fresh produce and seafood to clothing and electronics here. It’s a great place to experience the hustle and bustle of a typical Vietnamese market.
Make a Traditional Vietnamese Lantern
Making a traditional Vietnamese lantern is a must-do activity if you’re planning a trip to Hoi An, Vietnam.
Hoi An is known for its lanterns, often seen hanging in the streets and markets, and making your own lantern is a great way to learn more about this local tradition. Many shops teach travelers how to make a lantern around the city. It’s a great activity for the whole family too.
Take a cooking class
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients and unique flavors. A cooking class in Hoi An is a great way to learn more about the local cuisine and enjoy a delicious meal.
Here are some of the cooking classes you might consider:
- Ms. Vy’s Cooking School: Trinh Diem Vy, a well-known chef, and restaurateur in Hoi An, runs this cooking school. The school offers a variety of cooking classes that focus on traditional Vietnamese cuisine, as well as more contemporary dishes. The classes take place in a beautiful open-air kitchen, and participants get to enjoy the dishes they prepare.
- Red Bridge Cooking School: This cooking school is located on the banks of the Hoi An River, and it offers a range of cooking classes that cover everything from basic Vietnamese cooking techniques to more advanced recipes. The classes include a visit to a local market to buy ingredients, and participants get to enjoy the dishes they prepare.
- Hoi An Eco Cooking Class: This cooking class is unique in that it takes place in a rural village outside of Hoi An, where participants experience local farmers’ daily lives. The class focuses on traditional Vietnamese dishes using locally sourced ingredients, and participants enjoy a meal with the host family.
- Streets Restaurant Cafe and Cooking School: This cooking school is run by a local chef who has worked in some of Hoi An’s top restaurants. The classes focus on traditional Vietnamese dishes, and participants learn about the cultural and historical context of the dishes they prepare.
- Hai Cafe and Cooking Class: This cooking class is run by Hai, a local chef who grew up in Hoi An. The class occurs in his family’s home, where participants learn about traditional Vietnamese cooking techniques and prepare dishes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Relax on the beach
Hoi An has several beautiful beaches, including An Bang Beach and Cua Dai Beach. These beaches offer a tranquil escape from the busy town center and are great for swimming and sunbathing.
Where to Stay in Hoi An
Hoi An has many accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. Here are some of the best places to stay in Hoi An:
Hoi An Ancient Town
Staying in the ancient town is a great way to experience the charm and history of Hoi An.
The ancient town has many guesthouses and hotels, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury options. Staying in the ancient town also makes exploring the town on foot easy.
An Bang Beach
An Bang Beach is a popular area for visitors who want to stay near the beach. Several resorts and guesthouses are located in this area, and it’s a great place to relax and unwind.
Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach is another popular area for visitors who want to stay near the beach. Several resorts and guesthouses are located in this area, and it’s a great place to enjoy the sun and sand.
Cam Chau is a peaceful neighborhood just a short distance from the ancient town. It’s a great area to stay if you want to be close to the action but still have a quiet place to retreat to.
Where to eat in Hoi An
Hoi An is known for its delicious food, and many restaurants and street vendors serve local specialties. Here are some of the best places to eat in Hoi An:
- Banh Mi Phuong: Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that is popular all over the country. Banh Mi Phuong is a small street vendor famous for its delicious Banh Mi. It’s a must-try when you’re in Hoi An.
- White Rose: White Rose is a local specialty in Hoi An. It’s a dumpling made with translucent rice paper and filled with shrimp or pork. The best place to try White Rose is at the White Rose Restaurant in the ancient town.
- Morning Glory: Morning Glory is a popular restaurant in Hoi An that serves various Vietnamese dishes. It’s a great place to try local specialties and enjoy a delicious meal.
- Com Ga Ba Buoi: Com Ga is a Vietnamese dish made with chicken and rice. Com Ga Ba Buoi is a small restaurant in the ancient town famous for its Com Ga. It’s a must-try when you’re in Hoi An.
Getting Around Hoi An
The best way to explore Hoi An is on foot or by bike. The ancient town is pedestrianized, so cars and motorbikes are not allowed inside the town.
You can rent a bike from one of the many bike rental shops in the town, and it’s a great way to explore the area.
If you need to travel further afield, you can take a taxi or a Grab (ride-sharing app) to get around. Taxis are readily available in Hoi An, and the fares are relatively cheap.
Tips for visiting Hoi An
- Wear comfortable shoes: Hoi An is a great place to explore on foot, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Dress appropriately: Hoi An is a conservative town, so it’s important to dress appropriately when visiting temples or other religious sites.
- Beware of scams: Like many tourist destinations, there are scammers in Hoi An who will try to rip you off. Be aware of common scams and take precautions to protect yourself.
- Try the local specialties: Hoi An is known for its delicious food, so make sure you try the local specialties when you’re in town.
- Respect the local culture: Hoi An is a town with a rich history and culture, so it’s important to respect the local customs and traditions.
Hoi An is a beautiful and historic city in Vietnam that offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. From the colorful lanterns that line the streets to the ancient temples and historic buildings, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Hoi An.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or food or want to soak up the beautiful scenery, Hoi An has something for everyone. So pack your bags and head to Hoi An for an unforgettable experience in Vietnam.