Hoi An is a historic city, recognized as “the most charming city in Vietnam” and “the best city in the world 2019” by Travel and Leisure Magazine. It was an old merchant city and a busy commercial port in the 17th and 18th centuries. Hoi An was developed by Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese merchants during its golden years. Nicknamed the City of Lanterns, it dazzles every visitor with the romantic ambiance of its historic yellow houses, picturesque narrow alleys, colorful boats lit by multicolored lanterns and temples. The city is also on the list of the cultural heritage of Unesco, and one of the most visited places in Vietnam.
Wondering what to do in Hoi An? In this article, we are going to show you the Top 10 activities to experience a memorable time in Hoi An!
What to do in Hoi An: Top 10 Activities
1. Explore Hoi An and its surroundings by bike
To better immerse yourself in Hoi An, what better way to discover the city by bike? Taking a bike ride around Hoi An is the best way to approach the city and live like a local. The narrow alleys are all connected to the main street, so it’s easy to visit the main attractions and find hidden corners in the city. You can also discover the beautiful countryside of Hoi An, along the beautiful rice paddies and pedal to authentic villages.
How to visit Hoi An by bike? Here is our suggested route: In the morning, start with a tour of the old town. Take a circle around the Japanese Covered Bridge, the historic home of Tan Ky, which is also a Chinese temple. At noon, have a lunch break and finish your meal around a good Vietnamese coffee. In the afternoon, reach the village of Thanh Ha to create your own pottery to take home. Alternatively, take a tour of the organic vegetable village of Tra Que, discover a hidden island near Hoi An or make your own homemade lantern in the village of Cam Chau.
2. Visit a traditional village
The visit of villages specializing in traditional crafts or agricultural crops promises an extraordinary experience. These are part of the prestigious heritage of Hoi An and one of the best activities in Hoi An. What to do in Hoi An and its villages? Here’s a list: Tra Que, specializing in organic vegetables and herbs, Cam Ha in flowers, Kim Bong in carpentry, Thanh Ha in pottery, Cam Chau in lanterns and the fishing village of Thanh Nam. Visiting one or more of these villages will allow you to discover the amazing culture background of local inhabitants and, why not, participate in the daily activities of its craftsmen and peasants.
3. Take a trip to Cham Island
Cham Island is 18 km off the beach of Cua Dai. The paradise island of Cham, renowned for the beauty of its coast and its tropical beaches. Biodiversity is everywhere, from primitive forest to coral reefs. We recommend that option for a full day, with a boat or canoe trip. If you have more time, spend a night on the island to enjoy its beautiful landscapes is also a good idea. The tropical beaches in Hoi An are perfect for laying lazily and, for more active persons, snorkeling to watch the colorful fishes under the blue ocean. To seafood fan, let enjoy succulent seafood at local eateries and do not miss to taste the purple crabs, a local specialty.
4. Relax on the white sands of the beaches
What to do in Hoi An if you want to relax? Check out the beautiful beaches here! But then, where to go to enjoy a beach in Hoi An? Go to the beautiful beach of An Bang.
Only 4 km from Hoi An, An Bang beach is appreciated by both travelers and locals for powdery white sand, palm trees and warm, clear water. Enjoying a drink on a sunbed at a beach bar or enjoying a tasty seaside meal is perfect for relaxing. The best time to enjoy the beaches of Hoi An is between March and September, during the dry season in Vietnam. The temperature is very pleasant. The beach of Cua Dai is also a beautiful beach to test for lovers of idleness.
5. Become a Vietnamese gardener for a day
Only 2 km by bike to the North of Hoi An is the peaceful little village of Tra Que. Dating back more than 3 centuries ago, it has been famous for its organic vegetables and herbs.
With 20 different kinds of plants and vegetables, if you have a green thumb and are gourmets, put yourself in the shoes of a Vietnamese gardener! Hospitable locals will teach you their gardening techniques, how to plant the herbs.
You will also have the chance to cook your vegetables and herbs, taste your own dish. And after that, why don’t take a selfie with a buffalo to mark this wonderful day?
6. Admire the sunset on the Thu Bon River
Walk to the Thu Bon River and go for a ride on a colorful wooden boat. Guaranteed romantic atmosphere at sunset! Spend a unique and magical moment with your partner admiring the beauty of historic houses turning orange and red at sunset and the lanterns starting to light up.
7. Join a cooking class
Hoi An is famous for its fine and gourmet gastronomy. Would you be tempted to learn how to cook a tasty Vietnamese dish? Take part in a fun cooking class.
A passionate cook will accompany you to the market and teach you how to select the best products that make up the richness of Vietnamese dishes.
Then head to the kitchens where the chef will teach you how to cook one of the most popular dishes of Vietnam: Phở, Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), Chả giò (nems) or Bánh xèo (Vietnamese crepe).
8. Eat culinary specialties at a street food tour
Visit Hoi An can not be done without discovering its culinary specialties, an essential aspect of Vietnamese culture! The city is a paradise for gourmands!
Here is a never-ending list of tasty dishes: Cao Lau and Mi Quang noodle dishes, Vietnamese ravioli white roses, hot tofu, Vietnamese Banh Xeo crepes, Banh Mi point-shaped sandwiches (Vietnamese sandwich) …
Discovering the flavors of Hoi An should be done in small street restaurants, markets and street vendors. The best way is to participate in a street food tour with a good local guide.
9. Attend one of the best shows in the world – Hoi An Memories Show
Do you know that there is a world famous show in Vietnam? It is Hoi An Memories Show – a theatrical outdoor spectacle that has become a phenomenon since he was represented in Times Square in New York in March 2019. And it was later broadcast in the international press.
The performances take place in a huge open-air space of 25,000 meters that can accommodate more than 3,000 spectators. 500 actors would take part in the show and tell audience the great story of Hoi An from its birth, to its development as the busiest commercial port in Southeast Asia. The story line will discover 4 centuries that made Hoi An a legend. Be prepared to enjoy harmonious and grandiose scenes, traditional decorations of pagodas and bridges and aquatic scenes…
10. Enjoy a family moment at Vinpearl Land South Park
Traveling with children? Have fun with your toddlers at Vinpearl Land South Park in Hoi An. Located 15 km from the center of Hoi An and 40 km from Danang, this amusement park will delight your children!
The park is made up of 6 worlds and attractions: The World of Water, the River Safari, the Bird Park, Hoi An and Culture, Adventure and Games, and the “Indoor Gaming Room”. For sure, you and your children will not be bored!
When to visit Hoi An?
Knowing the weather Hoi An is essential if you want to visit this historic city. The city is located in central Vietnam and is affected by the monsoon season that occurs during the rainy season. The other times of the year, the weather is hot and dry.
The rainy season lasts from October to November. During this period, it is not uncommon to see heavy rains and floods. So, if you are traveling during this period, cover yourself and shelter in a charming cafe or restaurant while the storm calms down.
If you want to get away from the flow of tourists, stay in Hoi An in the low season and avoid the months of March, April and May.
If you want to soak up the energetic atmosphere of the city, travel during the “Full Moon Festival“. Every 14th day of the lunar month is the lantern festival. The city is only lit by the light of the lanterns, several traditional games and concerts are organized during the evening. It’s ideal to mix with locals and travelers in a party atmosphere!
How to get to Hoi An?
There are several ways to get to Hoi An. Here are 3 of them:
Taking a flight from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Hanoi is the fastest option. The trip takes only 1 hour to Danang Airport. Hoi An is 30 km away, you can take a car, bus or shuttle bus to Hoi An.
By car from Danang to Hoi An
If you arrive at Danang Airport, driving is the best way to get to Hoi An. Beware of taxis! They will not hesitate to climb prices and ask you for a big tip! We, therefore, recommend that you rent a reliable travel agent. Otherwise, you can search for shuttles.
Many trains leave Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City for Danang. You will have to take a bus or a taxi later to get your hotel in Hoi An. The train ride takes many hours. You can take it by day but also spend the night in a cabin. Its speed, slow, allows you to contemplate the beautiful Vietnamese countryside and to mix with the Vietnamese.
Here is another option if you want to travel like a Vietnamese. If you start from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, take a night bus. You will be able to travel lengthened and to observe authentic villages and Vietnamese countryside. Nevertheless, this economical transportation will take you a whole day to reach Hoi An.
Hoi An is one of the best cities in Vietnam to discover! If you want to manage your trip easier and to spare some time planing it, you can use the help of local travel agencies such as www.indochinatrends.com