15 x What to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

What to do in Hoi An Vietnam

The best sights and tips for a visit to Hoi An

For many travelers, Hoi An tops the list of favorite destinations in Vietnam, thanks to the city’s irresistible charm and the fact that you can explore almost everything on foot, by bike, or by scooter.

The yellow streets look like a living museum (UNESCO World Heritage) with well-preserved historic buildings and beautiful temples. There is also a lively market and in the many streets, you will find delicious restaurants, tasty banh mi stalls, and beautiful boutiques. And then of course there are the many lanterns that decorate the streets and light up in the evening!

As soon as you leave the center you enter the rice fields, and a little further you have the coast with some beautiful beaches.

We stayed there for a month and collected the best things to do in Hoi An and our favorite places to eat and sleep in this wonderful city. In any case, Hoi An should not be missed on your Vietnam itinerary!

How to visit Hoi An?

Hoi An is located in central Vietnam and can be reached from all directions, such as Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Hue, Mui Ne, or Ho Chi Minh City.

Fly to Hoi An

Hoi An itself is not a big city and has no airport. However, the larger city of Da Nang is 25 km from Hoi An and has an international airport. You can fly there by plane from Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, or even from abroad.

From the airport, you can take a taxi or a regular bus (very cheap) to Hoi An.

By bus to Hoi An

Hoi An is a popular destination and you can travel directly to Hoi An by bus from most other well-known cities in Vietnam. The slightly more expensive buses are often a lot more comfortable, so we advise you to book those. Click on the links below to view current departure times per city:

With the train to Hoi An

The best thing is to go to Hoi An by train. The train journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi is considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The stretch between Da Nang and Dong Hoi (if you go to Phong Nha, for example) is stunning with, among other things, the Hai Van Pass. With the bus, you miss this because you go through a tunnel.

By train from Hoi An to Hue

TIP: This is a very touristy route, so book your train ticket in time and be sure to get a sleeping car in first or second class if you are going to travel on the train for a longer period. If you go to Vietnam in the period around Chinese New Year, book even earlier because everything fills up quickly (including the buses).

When you go to Hoi An by train, you also arrive in Da Nang, from where you take a taxi or bus to Hoi An.

Click on the links below to view current departure times per city:

  • Hanoi to Hoi An: a long train ride with the sleeper train of 16-17 hours.
  • Ninh Binh to Hoi An: a train ride of 13-14 hours, we advise you to book the more comfortable sleeper train.
  • Phong Nha to Hoi An: First, you need to take a taxi from Phongh Na to the station in Dong Hoi, there you take the train to Da Nang, a ride take takes about 6 hours (passed the Hai Van pass).
  • Hue to Hoi An: train ride of 2.5 hours.
  • Mui Ne to Hoi An: a long ride on the sleeper train from 1-3 pm. The train departs from Binh Thuang (an hour’s drive from Mui Ne).
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An: a very long ride on the sleeper train from 5-7 p.m.

TIP: For the night trains, book a slightly more expensive but more comfortable seat in first or second class.

The best time to visit Hoi An

Hoi An has pleasant temperatures all year round. Between February and July, there is almost no rain and it can be very dry and warm.

In the other months of the year, rain is possible (especially from October to December) and temperatures are often somewhat lower (in our winter months).

TIP: Keep in mind that if you visit Hoi An during the Tet festival (like we did), it is very busy and a lot of things are closed around the holiday itself! There is also the monthly lantern festival, but honestly, we didn’t think it was worth staying around for. Plus, it is also a polluting practice to leave candles in water.

What to do in Hoi An

As we said before, Hoi An has something for everyone. You can eat delicious food, discover the culture and architecture, wander around the small streets, visit the beach, cycle through the rice fields and so much more…

We recommend at least 3 days in Hoi An during your Vietnam itinerary, so that you have enough time to really experience the atmosphere of the city and discover the surrounding sights of Hoi An.

Let’s dive into the 15 best things to do in Hoi An.

Hoi An old city center lantern
Hoi An locals old town

Discover Hoi An Old Quarter

The Old Quarter of Hoi An is a magical place, so really take your time to walk around the old city and don’t rush from one sight to another. The people, the colorful houses, the many cozy cafes, and all the scenes on the street make it so much fun to explore here. Come here both during the day and in the evening, when hundreds of lanterns romantically illuminate the streets and river.

The ancient “yellow” city of Hoi An was an important Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th century due to its location on the Thu Bon River and proximity to the sea. Now, this old part of Hoi An is also protected by UNESCO.

Hoi An old town architecture
Fun things to do in Hoi An Vietnam

As a result, in the center, you will still find many traditional wooden houses of wealthy traders such as the “Old House of Tan Ky” and the “Tran Family Chapel“. Nice to take a look.

One of the most famous sights in Hoi An is the Japanese Bridge or the Cau Temple. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation when we were there and this will be the case for several years. You can still take a look at the renovation works (with a ticket).

TIP: You need a ticket to visit various sights in Hoi An. You can find this at one of the yellow kiosks that you see in various places in the city. A ticket is torn off for each temple/house you visit. So you can choose (best in advance) which monuments you visit or buy more tickets if necessary.

In the following paragraphs, we will highlight several unique temples and places that you can visit in the old city.

Hoi An Vietnam Hat

Visit the Quan Cong Temple

The Quan Cong Temple is located in the heart of Hoi An’s ancient city. It was built in 1653 and dedicated to Quan Cong, a Chinese general known for his loyalty, sincerity, integrity, and justice.

You will be enchanted by the beautiful architecture, colorful details, and detailed ornaments, so typical for a Chinese temple. Mythical creatures such as dragons and unicorns watch you from above. It’s very peaceful to walk around here for a while and enjoy the quietness (especially if you come in the morning or just before closing time).

In the central hall, you will find the statue of General Quang Cong surrounded by incense everywhere (to appease the gods). Also, walk to the back for the nice ornamental pond with turtles.

To visit the Quan Cong Pagoda you also need a ticket (see above).

Quang Cong Temple Hoi An Sights

Explore the rice fields around Hoi An by bike

Just outside the old center of Hoi An, you will immediately find yourself surrounded by rice fields. You can cycle on the narrow paths and watch the local farmers at work. Perfect to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and to take beautiful photos.

This is perfectly possible on your own, but it is much more fun to take a guided bike tour that will take you to the nicest places where you would normally not visit and where you will also visit some local family businesses. A fantastic experience!

TIP: There are also some nice cafes here to for a snack or a drink with a view over the rice fields of Hoi An. You have Chic Chillax, Hoa Lua, or Roving Chill House, among others.

Fun things to do in Hoi An Vietnam Cycling rice fields
What to do in Hoi An cooking class

Walk around the cozy Hoi An Night Market

As soon as the sun sets, the 300-meter-long street along the Thu Bon River transforms into a lively bazaar, illuminated by twinkling lanterns that create a magical atmosphere.

Unlike the central market of Hoi An (see below), this night market is not aimed at locals but mainly at tourists. However, don’t let that put you off because it is fun to walk around here.

You will find local handicrafts, art, and souvenirs, often at cheaper prices than in the boutiques in the city. But you can also buy Vietnamese street food such as Banh Mi, Cao Lau, or Vietnamese pancakes.

TIP: this night market is one of the most popular markets in Vietnam. It’s open from 5 pm to 10 pm, but we recommend coming after 8 pm to 8:30 pm when it gets a lot quieter.

Hoi An Night Market Lanterns
Hoi An Night Market Streetfood

Visit Reaching Out Tea House

If you want a unique experience in Hoi An, be sure to visit the special Reaching Out Tea House, located in a charming, traditional Vietnamese building.

The staff, mainly deaf or hard of hearing, serves you using sign language and written notes. They also aske to speak quietly to each other so that this place offers an oasis of peace in the middle of the lively old city.

You can enjoy a selection of handcrafted teas, coffee, and light snacks, all served in beautiful pottery that is also made in Reaching Out’s own workshop. Be sure to try the range of cookies!

By visiting the Reaching Out Tea House you will not only support the local community but also get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a place that invites you to slow down and enjoy the little things in life.

Hoi An Reaching Out Tea House
Coffee Hoi An Reaching Out Tea House
Hoi An Reaching Out Tea House

Look for the best Banh Mi

Hoi An and Vietnam are known for their delicious sandwiches, the Banh Mi. A Banh Mi is a crispy sandwich (the baguette is a remnant of French colonization) with a rich filling of fresh herbs, meats, pâté, and vegetables, and a unique sauce that will undoubtedly surprise your taste buds.

And especially in Hoi An, there seems to be a real competition going on to see who has the tastiest Banh Mi in town. Hoi An is also called the Banh Mi capital of Vietnam.

There is the Banh Mi Phuong, which became world-famous after none other than Anthony Bourdain visited here, or Madame Khanh, which is located a little further from the center.

Are you vegetarian or vegan? Be sure to visit Le Hoi Banh Mi, a small stall with the best vegan Banh Mi!

Hoi An Best Vegan Banh Mi
Le Hoi Vegan Banh Mi Hoi An

Take a cooking class in Hoi An

Would you like to make your own spring rolls? Or do you finally want to know the secret ingredient of Vietnamese cuisine? Then you should definitely take a local cooking class in Hoi An.

The cooking classes often start with a visit to the local market, where you will learn how to select fresh ingredients and learn about the essential ingredients of Vietnamese cuisine. Then you can start making classic dishes such as Pho, Banh Xeo (Vietnamese pancakes), or fresh spring rolls.

Many cooking courses take place just outside Hoi An, on the waterfront, or in the middle of rice fields. Some cooking lessons can be combined with a trip in one of the coconut boats. Be careful before you book, because there are also scams. We recommend this cooking class, where you have both a trip on the water and a cooking class.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Relax on An Bang Beach

From the old town of Hoi An you can easily go by bike or scooter (as we did) to An Bang Beach, a beautiful coastal strip known for its nice beach and relaxed atmosphere. Don’t expect a tropical beach, but just a nice place to enjoy a day.

An Nang Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Hoi An and is perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. Moreover, the beach is also ideal for surfing or bodyboarding. Riding our scooter towards the beach with our body board was a wonderful feeling!

Along the beach, you will find several cozy beach bars and restaurants. Our favorite was The Fisherman, a vegan restaurant with delicious food in a beautiful setting. You can also sit on the beach chairs for free if you order something.

TIP: If you fancy really tasty fries, we can recommend the Bikini Bottom, on the access road to the beach. Be sure to try the ‘Classic Montreal’, the closest we have ever come abroad to Belgian fries and stew! Delicious!

An Nang Beach Hoi An
An Nang Beach Hoi An The Fisherman
An Nang Beach Hoi An Surfing

One of the nicest sights in the old town of Hoi An is the Precious Heritage Art Gallery by the renowned French photographer Réhahn. As a photography enthusiast, I am biased, but even if you are not specifically into photography, this gallery is worth a visit.

After all, it is more than just an exhibition space. Rehahn is a French photographer living in Vietnam and in recent years he has visited and photographed almost all Vietnamese ethnic tribes. This results in a beautiful collection of portraits, but also clothing and objects typical of the ethnic tribes.

Moreover, with your visit, you contribute to the survival of Vietnamese culture, because a large part of the proceeds from ‘The Giving Back Project’ goes to these ethnic tribes.

Precious Art Gallery Hoi An
Precious Art Gallery Hoi An What to do

Wander through the Central Market in Hoi An

If you want an idea of authentic daily Vietnamese life, walk around the bustling central market of Hoi An. The many spices, colors, bargaining vendors, and locals preparing something delicious are a feast for all the senses and something you must do in Hoi An.

You will find various stalls inside with all kinds of goods, but you can also eat something tasty, at very affordable prices. Unlike the Night Market, the Central Market is still completely aimed at the local people. You see the locals doing their daily shopping or eating noodle soup.

You will also find many sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat or fish, flowers, and other products in the surrounding streets.

TIP: Visit the Central Market in the early morning. That’s when it’s busiest, and you can watch the local life the best!

Hoi An Central Market
Landmark Hoi An Market
What to do in Hoi An Central Market
Hoi An Central Market Streetfood

Make a lantern in one of the lantern workshops

The many lanterns decorating Hoi An’s streets are one of the city’s most distinctive features and a big crowd-puller.

But instead of buying a lantern as a souvenir, you can also make one yourself in a creative workshop. You make the lantern as the locals still do and experience a nice piece of the city’s tradition. Moreover, you also support local craftsmen and help maintain this age-old custom.

We attended this lantern-making workshop in the city center and found it to be a very affordable and fun activity, both for our children and ourselves! Moreover, the lanterns are foldable so you can take them home.

Lantern making workshop Hoi An
What to do in Hoi An lantern making workshop

Visit the Ba Mu Temple Gate

Centrally located in the old center of Hoi An is the Ba Mu Temple Gate (Tam Quan), the temple with three gates. It was only opened to the public a few years ago and dates back to 1626.

Characteristic is the pond, which beautifully reflects the temple when there is no wind. Nice for a short visit.

Ba mu Tempel Gate Hoi An
Ba Mu Tempel Gate What to do in Hoi An

Day trips from Hoi An

Discover the My Son temple complex

The My Son temple complex is about an hour’s drive from Hoi An. You can go there by taxi, but we went by scooter. Don’t follow the big roads, but go through the Vietnamese landscape. A great experience and a fun day trip from Hoi An.

My Son is a fascinating historical site and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will find remains of the Champa civilization, which ruled large parts of Vietnam centuries ago.

Unfortunately, many temples were damaged by American bombing during the Vietnam War, but fortunately, you can still admire some beautiful remains. It is also a pleasant area to walk around because the complex is located in the middle of the jungle.

TIP: Plan your visit 1-2 hours before closing time. Then the large groups have already left and you can discover the site in peace. Moreover, the light of the setting sun colors the temples beautifully orange and red!

My Son Temple Day Trip Hoi An Sightseeing
Hoi An things to see My Son Temple
My Son Temple Daytrip Hoi An

Walk up the steps to Marble Mountains

On the way to Da Nang is Marble Mountains, about a 30-minute drive from Hoi An. You can again opt for a taxi or Grab, or go by scooter like we did.

Marble Mountains actually consist of 5 mountains in an otherwise flat landscape. They are revered by the locals and represent the five elements (earth, fire, water, metal, and wood).

You can only visit one of the mountains, but it is very worthwhile. Spread over the mountain there are several temples, pagodas, caves, and viewpoints over the sea and the landscape.

TIP: Come here early in the morning or before closing time, because this is a popular day trip from both Da Nang and Hoi An. Also plan on doing a lot of stairs.

If you want to drive even further, you can also visit the Lady Buddha and Da Nang itself with the Dragon Bridge.

Marble Mountains Tempel What to do in Hoi An
Marble Mountains Daytrip Hoi An
Marble Mountains Cave Day trip Hoi An

Visit the surrounding craft villages

Hoi An is surrounded by villages known for practicing a specific craft. Very nice to visit to learn more about the local culture, see locals at work and possibly buy a nice souvenir.

There is Kim Bong Carpentry Village (where they produce all kinds of furniture), Tra Que Vegetable Village (where you can see local farmers at work), and Phuoc Hai Fishing Village (where you can see Vietnamese fishing techniques).

We visited the Thanh Ha Pottery Village. You can visit a nice museum there with more information about pottery in Vietnam (the children can even make a pot) and walk through the village where the pots are produced.

Thanh Ha Pottery Village Daytrip Hoi An

Nice restaurants in Hoi An

Hoi An has something for everyone, from local to international cuisine, from vegan to a piece of fresh fish. Eating out or having a coffee is undeniably one of the best things to do in Hoi An! Don’t forget to try street food at the Night Market or in the busy streets of the old town.

Be sure to check out some of the following spots and enjoy what they have to offer:

  • Nourish Eatery: one of our favorite places (a little outside the old center) for a delicious breakfast or healthy lunch (also for vegetarians). Be sure to order a smoothie bowl (the chocolate breakfast bowl will appeal to every chocolate fan) or avocado toast!
  • Maazi: a delicious Indian restaurant, located in the old town of Hoi An. We ate there a few times and the Chicken Tikka Masala in particular was delicious! There are not many tables, so arrive on time.
  • Mót Hoi An: this place is best known for its lime grass lemonade with a little lime juice, jasmine, ginger, sugar, … A surprising but very tasty drink that you should try. There are only a few tables, but most people come to order drinks to take away.
  • Reaching Out Tea House: We have discussed this place in what to do in Hoi An. Be sure to come here for the unique experience and delicious coffee, tea, and cookies.
  • Greek Souvlaki Restaurant: If you fancy a tasty and affordable Greek meal, you’ve come to the right place. The Chicken Souvlaki is delicious and not expensive.
  • Bikini Bottom: Located on An Nang Beach, this restaurant serves American cuisine. Our favorite was the Classic Montreal, fries topped with stew sauce and mozzarella.
  • The Fisherman: our favorite beach bar at An Nang Beach with delicious vegan dishes. You can sit on the beach chairs for free if you order a drink or meal or on the terrace from where you can view the beach and the ocean in peace.
  • Banh Mi Phuong or Le Hoi Banh Mi: in Hoi An you should look for the best Banh Mi! These two spots are our favorites. Be sure to try the vegan Banh Mi from Le Hoi!
  • Rosie’s Cafe: a trendy spot where you can eat delicious avocado toasts, granola bowls, and pancakes, … all day long.
  • Nhan’s Kitchen: tasty Vietnamese cuisine and some Western dishes. You should try the stuffed squid and ‘White Rose’ (a typical Vietnamese dish)!
Mot Hoi An Drink
Restaurants in Hoi An Nourish Eatery

Where can you stay in Hoi An?

You can either stay in the old town of Hoi An which puts you in the middle of the cozy atmosphere and close to the most famous things to do in Hoi An.

However, during our stay in Hoi An, we chose to spend the night among the rice fields. This way you are close to the old center but also not far from the sea. Most hotels also have free bicycles. We also rented a scooter to visit the more distant sights in Hoi An. Staying here is often a bit more budget-friendly and also a lot quieter than in the old center.

Nice stay in the old center of Hoi An

  • Hoi An Heart Lodge: a gem in the old town of Hoi An, with very helpful staff and a delicious breakfast. Very affordable prices.
  • The View Homestay Hoi An: cozy hotel with a small swimming pool and terrace overlooking the old town of Hoi An. Ideal also for families as they have 3 and 4-person rooms. Affordable prices.
  • Hoi An Grace River Villa: for a more luxurious stay, this is the place to stay. Located on the island opposite the old center, you are immediately close to everything, yet in a quiet neighborhood.
Hotels Hoi An old town
Where to stay in Hoi An old town
Where to stay in Hoi An old town

Where to stay just outside Hoi An (among the rice fields)

  • Sunkissed Paddy Hoi An Villa: a beautiful hotel just outside the old town, with a swimming pool overlooking the rice fields and the sunset! They also offer free bicycles with which you can go to the old center through the rice fields or to the sea. Recommended!
  • Legacy Hoi An Resort: If you want a more luxurious stay at still affordable prices, then this hotel is perfect! There is a large swimming pool, fitness, spa, and free shuttle to the beach.
  • Zest Resort & Spa Hoi An: this hotel is a little piece of paradise outside Hoi An. Even though it is a little further away, the area is worth it! There is also a free shuttle to the old town and the beach. You can book a room there or even your own (family) bungalow in the middle of the beautiful nature!
Hotels Hoi An ricefields
Where to stay just outside Hoi An
Where to stay just outside Hoi An

Save this article on Pinterest

The perfect 3 day halong bay cruise overnight

15 x What to do in Hoi An, Vietnam

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top