Last Updated 1 year ago
Hoi An is one of the most unique and magical places in the world. We spent four months living here and exploring everything the town had to offer. From the touristy hot spots to the secret places locals love, you definitely wont run out of things to do in Hoi An! We want to share the moments we had that will forever last in our memories. The moments that left us craving more and wanting to return to this beautiful river town.
Things To Do In Hoi An
Visit Ancient Town
Meet the star of the show! One of the top things to do in Hoi An is visiting the UNESCO world heritage site Ancient Town. Ancient town is comprised of 1107 timber frame buildings dating all the way back to the 15th century. It covers under half a square kilometer and is easily walkable. For those with limited mobility a great way to see it is by taking a cyclo. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants, cafes and tailors. The best time to visit is early on in the day.
Heavy crowds start to accumulate around 2 pm. Be aware of scooters and cyclos on the road. Stay to one side of the road and remember that vehicles have the right of way in Vietnam rather than pedestrians. There is a small fee to enter Ancient Town which goes towards the preservation of buildings and upkeep of the streets. The cost is 120k Dong ($6.00 US) and there are many booths around the ancient town to pay the fee. The ticket will give you access to 5 historic attractions within the ancient town.
Hoi An Central Market
The Hoi An central market will be a full blown sensory overload. It's busy all day long with both locals buying supplies and tourists shopping for souvenirs. The market is split into a few different sections and spills out onto the surrounding streets. It's loud, chaotic, colorful, cheap and has everything you would expect to find in an local asian market.
From a dedicated area for tailors to street food vendors, souvenir shops and locals selling their goods it's a place you'll want to add to your things to do in Hoi An list! Keep in mind that haggling is common in Hoi An to get the best price. Always follow your instinct, know when to walk away and don't be afraid to say “no thank you”. There are many aggressive sellers around the market that will walk up to you and ask “where you from”. This is a common practice in Hoi An that will lead to a sales pitch of some sort. Again, politely say no thank you and continue walking.
Address: 73 Phan Bội Châu Sơn Phong tp. Hội An Sơn Phong, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam
An Bang Beach
There is no beach directly in Hoi An but a short 4 km away from the town is the idyllic An Bang beach. Although the beach can be busy with tourists and vendors hawking their goods, it's definitely a great place to spend a few hours to soak up some sun. You can swim here but be aware during the winter months that the seas can be rough. There are many restaurants and cafes that line the beach where you can get a sun lounger with the purchase of food or a drink. You can also bring your own beach mat if you want to save some money.
The beach has suffered from erosion in recent years due to recent typhoons so be aware that if the tide is fully in, beach real estate can be scarce. If you ride your scooter or bike to the beach, parking should cost 5000 dong. There are water sports such as paragliding and jetskis are available for rent. Depending on the currents and time of year, garbage can wash up the beach but locals and expats are constantly trying to keep the beach as clean as possible.
A quick note about toilets is there are plenty available but they all will have some sort of fee attached such as making a food/beverage purchase. You can alternatively use the public toilets and pay a small fee to the attendant. Cost is 5000-10,000 dong.
Our tip is to use one of the restaurants for the day. That way you will get access to your own sun lounger and have use of the toilets. It's worth the cost for the day. You may want to bring your own toilet paper and hand wipes.
Hoi An Night Market
Visiting the Night Market definitely needs to be on your list of things to do at night in Hoi An! The energy of live music fills the air. Vendors line the street with local Vietnamese food and sweet treats. Make sure to try the ice cream rolls! They are prepared from scratch right before your eyes as they smash the ingredients together providing quite an entertaining preparation method.
There are your usual tourist souvenirs along with a plethora of colorful lanterns which Hoi An is famous for. Bars, restaurants and cafes surround the night market. These are perfect for grabbing a seat on a patio and people watching but be aware prices will be higher due to the prime location. The night market and surrounding area are packed with thousands of tourists every night but don't let that stop you from going as it adds to the atmosphere. The market runs from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm nightly. The best time to see the market is around 7:00 pm after the sun has set.
Address: Nguyễn Hoàng, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Get a Massage
One of the most relaxing things to do in Hoi An is to get a massage. There are hundreds of affordable spas to choose from. From basic foot rubs to full body massages, it's the perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring. A 60 minute full body massage should be around 200K Dong ($8 US) for an average spa on the street. Hotel and luxury spas may run as high as 600K dong ($26 US) for an hour. Massages can be hit or miss but you really can't go wrong for the price. Check out our complete guide on everything you need to know about getting a Massage in Hoi An!
Jack's Cat Cafe
Jack's Cat Cafe is a vegan cafe situated among a beautiful garden that is home to over 70 rescue cats and kittens. It has a small menu that frequently changes offering a delicious vegetarian lunch. The cafe is run by the official charity Vietnam Cat Welfare. All proceeds go towards cat rehabilitation and finding them permanent homes.
The cafe only allows a certain number of people per day to keep the environment safe and comfortable for the cats. It is highly suggested to book a reservation online here to avoid being turned away. It's open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm.
Admission costs 100K Dong ($5 US) and includes a beverage. Even though I'm not a vegetarian the food was yummy and I enjoyed the garlic tofu wrap. Hanging out with the cuddly cats was the best part and you can tell the cafe is run ethically.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
Tra Que Vegetable Village definitely should be on your list of things to do in Hoi An! The charming village allows you to see and experience a day in the life of local farmers. You'll have the opportunity to participate in planting, traditional watering, collecting and sampling the organic produce. The best way to travel to the village is by bicycle. You can plan ahead by book a half day tour through an agency or your hotel.
Address: Cam Ha Commune, Hoi An 560000, Vietnam
Have a Smoothie Bowl at Rosie's Cafe (Locals Secret!)
Without a doubt the best smoothie bowls in Hoi An can be found at Rosie's Cafe! This vegan friendly cafe is very popular with expats looking to enjoy healthy and natural meals. My personal favorite smoothie bowl is the Dear Sweety.
After consuming enough noodles and rice to last a lifetime, put this stop on your things to do in Hoi An list and enjoy a healthy meal! Rosie's is family run and all of the girls who work here are very friendly. Rosie's is popular so if all tables are full, don't hesitate to ask if you can share a table with someone. They are open 9-5 Monday though Saturday.
Address: 8/6 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Hoi An, Quang Nam-Da Nang, Vietnam 560000
Visit a Tailor For Custom Made Clothing
Hoi An has more tailors per capita than anywhere else in the world. If you've ever dreamed of having a perfect fitting, custom outfit at an affordable price, Hoi An is the place to do it. All you need is a photo in a magazine or an idea and it can be created from scratch and measured to fit your body. From sundresses for $15 to custom evening gowns at $100, all shopping dreams are possible in Hoi An. Finding the right tailor can be difficult and almost impossible to know where to start. Here is a great article on the best tailors in Hoi An from the Culture Trip.
We personally didn't go with the best as we wanted to save some money. Shops like Be Be are also known for having the highest price. I had two dress shirts custom made from a lesser known Tailor Huong Ly and love them both! I saved about $25 and I”m happy with the quality. Haggling is common with tailors in Hoi An so make sure to never accept the first price.
If you have the time, have them make one affordable piece of clothing first to see if you like it. Once you know they've done a great job, you will be more comfortable spending larger amounts on full outfits or gowns.
Float a Lantern on the River
Every night in Hoi An is magical. Hundreds of lanterns float down the river from both tourists and locals. One the most amazing things to do in Hoi An was stroll the riverside at night and watch the beautiful lanterns twinkling on the river. Traditionally the lanterns were an offering to the gods of the land and to honor ancestors.
Today many tourists will make a wish or say a prayer for a lost loved one. What you think or say when you float your lantern is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as it means something to you. Paper lanterns can be purchased from dozens of vendors along the river for 10K Dong ($0.50 US). You will find the most lanterns floating along the river in front of the night market street.
You can also take a boat ride among the floating lanterns. There are over a hundred small wooden boats that can be rented that include a guide who will do the rowing. Costs vary widely based on demand and range from 50K – 100K Dong per person. ($2-$5 US)
If you are lucky or planning ahead, try to visit Hoi An during a full moon. They turn off all the street lights for the monthly Full Moon Festival as thousands of lanterns float down the river.
Eat Cau Lau
Eating Cau Lao must be on your things to do in Hoi An list! This ancient dish consists of local greens, juicy pork and noodles. The greens are only found around the town of Hoi An and the noodles are made with water from an undisclosed ancient well that gives the dish its unique taste. There is literally Cau Lao on every corner and ranges in price from 10K Dong ($0.50 US) to 150K Dong ($7.50 US).
I tried the dish from several street vendors and restaurants but my absolute favorite was from The Noodle House. I can't say the service was amazing but the Cau Lao was the best I had during our time in Hoi An! The price for my Cau Lau and a soft drink came to 90K Dong ($4.50 US)
The Noodle House: 13 Bạch Đằng, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Enjoy a Coffee and Panini on the Patio (Locals Secret!)
There many cafes in Hoi An but the one that stood out most in our mind was Mia Coffee. They have a great wrap around patio and upstairs balcony for people watching and relaxing. They have yummy home made paninis and cappuccinos at local prices! We found many cafes are tourist traps with overpriced offerings but Mia cafe caters more to expats and locals alike. Cappuccinos are priced at 37K Dong ($1.60 US) and paninis are 59K Dong ($2.50 US). Offering high quality, great prices and friendly staff, this was our favorite cafe in Hoi An.
Mia Coffee: 20 Đường Phan Bội Châu, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge
If you plan on visiting Ancient Town make sure to cross the ancient Japanese bridge! It's a great place for photo opportunities but be sure to go very early in the day between 9 am and 12 pm. After that it becomes extremely busy with tourists.
Construction started in 1593 (year of the monkey) and was completed in 1595 (year of the dog) hence the dog and monkey sculptures on each end.
The cost is 20K Dong to cross the bridge during peak times. You can also use one of your tickets that was included with your entrance fee to Ancient Town. Earlier in the day there is no fee. If an attendant it not present at the entrance, feel free to cross the bridge.
Japanese Covered Bridge: Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam 56401
Eat the "Worlds Best Sandwich" at Banh Mi Phuong
The late and great Anthony Bourdain ate at Banh Mi Phuong. He called the Banh Mi sandwich here “the best sandwich in the world”. The only thing that has changed about this restaurant since then is the fact that it's very busy now from open to close. Long lines form outside this famous sandwich shop all day long so be prepared to wait.
The restaurant has been kept in its original street food form and the recipe has not changed. The price of a Banh Mi is only 30K dong ($1.50 US). We visited this restaurant multiple times to have the famous sandwich and Anthony was absolutely right, it's amazing.
There are very limited seats in the restaurant but if you purchase a drink across the street you can have a seat on one of their plastic chairs. We usually just ended up sitting on a cement block and enjoyed this famous street food.
Banh Mi Phuong: 2b Phan Chu Trinh, Cẩm Châu, Hội An, Quảng Nam 560000
Try the Steamed Pork Buns at Nu Eatery (Locals Secret!)
One of my personal favorite things to do in Hoi An was eat the pork belly steamed buns at Nu Eatery. These buns are literally to die for. Soon as I start heading down the alley to this hole in the wall restaurant, I can smell the glory of these amazing little sandwiches.
The restaurant also has a second location called The Seashell which offers a vegetarian version of the sandwich that uses tofu. My wife loved them!
Nu Eatery: 10A Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
The Seashell: 119 Trần Cao Vân, Phường Minh An, Hội An, Quảng Nam
Hoi An truly is a magical place with so many things to explore and do. Let us know below if you would like us to add one of your favorite things to do in Hoi An!
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