Hoi An – Where Tradition Meets Tranquility
Hoi An is undoubtedly one of Vietnam’s premier attractions, possessing a timeless elegance that sets it apart. This destination exudes an ancient charm and uniqueness that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Upon arrival, visitors are warmly welcomed by the friendly locals, leaving them with a genuine sense of warmth and affection.
With its timeless beauty and rich heritage, Hoi An invites you to wander through its narrow lanes, adorned with vibrant lanterns and centuries-old buildings. From its historical landmarks to vibrant markets and stunning beaches, experience the best of this UNESCO World Heritage site with Vietnam travel expert travel tips.
Hoi An Overview
Where is Hoi An? Located in the heart of Quang Nam province, approximately 30 kilometers south of Da Nang city, Hoi An Ancient Town sits just downstream from the Thu Bon River. It is not only a renowned tourist attraction but also a complex of architectural relics.
From the 15th to the 20th century, Hoi An Ancient Town played a pivotal role in facilitating trade and connecting European merchants with their Asian counterparts. The town’s diverse architectural styles bear the influence of Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese traders.
In 1999, Hoi An Ancient Town was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site, which is an honor for Da Nang, Vietnam. This esteemed recognition emphasizes its status as a vibrant living museum, showcasing a multitude of architectural designs and urban lifestyles from across the world.
Best time to visit Hue Hoi An
Unlike Northern Vietnam, which undergoes climate changes that resemble the four seasons, Hoi An features only two distinct seasons: dry season (February-August) and wet season (September-January). When it comes to weather, the optimal period to visit Hoi An is from February to April.
DRY SEASON: Hoi An’s dry season lasts from February to August. The hottest period is from June to August, with temperatures often reaching 35°C (95°F). February to April is the driest time of the year and the most favorable months to visit Hoi An. These months humidity is low, and temperatures are relatively mild.
WET SEASON: The rainy season in Hoi An occurs from September to January. Heavy showers are frequent during this time, accompanied by typhoons and potential flooding, particularly in October and November. At this time, you should consider carefully before deciding to visit Hoi An.
How to get Hoi An
Hoi An does not have its own airport or train station; however, it is easily accessible due to its proximity to the neighboring city of Da Nang.
Flights to Hoi An:
The nearest airport to Hoi An is Da Nang International Airport (DAD), situated in the heart of Da Nang. It is located 30 kilometers away from Hoi An. From the airport, it takes approximately 30 minutes by taxi or bus to reach Hoi An. There are flights to Da Nang from various cities across Vietnam, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat, and Phu Quoc.
Buses to Hoi An:
Hoi An has two bus stations that offer routes to and from multiple destinations in Vietnam, such as Nha Trang (10 hours) and Hue (2.5 hours). However, Da Nang has a larger bus station with more buses and better connectivity.
There is a public bus service operating between Hoi An and Da Nang. The bus stops just outside the center of Hoi An and passes through the center of Da Nang.
Trains to Hoi An:
The nearest train station is located in Da Nang. Several trains arrive daily from cities like Quy Nhon (6 hours), Hanoi (17 hours), Ho Chi Minh City (17 hours), Hue (3 hours), Nha Trang (11 hours), and Mui Ne (16 hours). Upon arrival at the station, you can easily find a taxi to take you to Hoi An.
Where to stay in Hoi An?
Here are some of the most convenient areas to stay in Hoi An, along with a color-coded map for a better understanding.
Hoi An Ancient Town
Staying in the Ancient Town means that you won’t have to walk much, as most of the city’s major attractions are located here. You will also find numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants within this area.
While the Ancient Town is convenient, it is also the most touristy part of Hoi An. Especially in the evenings when the lanterns are lit up, expect it to be crowded.
Here are some of the highly-rated hotels in Hoi An Ancient Town:
Luxury: Anantara Hoi An Resort
Midrange: Hoian Central Hotel
Budget: Family Hotel
Regardless of the exact boundaries, Minh An is home to the Hoi An Night Market and offers a good selection of hotel options. It is a highly convenient area to stay in Hoi An, just like the Ancient Town. Take a look at some of the top-rated accommodations in Minh An:
Luxury: Mulberry Collection Silk Marina
Midrange: Rock Mouse Homestay
Budget: Gold Stone Homestay
Cam Pho covers the western half of An Hoi Island and the area directly west and north of the Ancient Town. It is often recommended as a suitable place to stay for budget travelers due to its wide range of affordable accommodations. Here are some highly-rated hotels in Cam Pho:
Luxury: A Little Luxury Hotel & Spa – Allegro Hoi An
Midrange: Pham Gia Boutique Villa
Budget: Cochi Villa Hoi An
Cam Chau – the quieter and more residential area situated between the Ancient Town and the beach. If you prefer a more authentic experience in Hoi An, Cam Chau is a great place to stay.
Here are some of the highly-rated hotels in Cam Chau:
Luxury: Anantara Hoi An Resort
Midrange: Roxana River Villa
Budget: Fireworks Homestay
Cam Thanh is described as an ideal choice for those seeking a more rural experience in Hoi An. It may be slightly far from the town center, but if that’s what you desire, Cam Thanh is recommended. Here are some top-rated hotels in Cam Thanh:
Luxury: Lime Villa
Midrange: Zest Villas & Spa Hoi An
Budget: Coco Village Homestay Hoi An
For a beach holiday in Hoi An, Cam An is the perfect place to stay. It is home to An Bang, the most popular beach in Hoi An.
An Bang Beach is located over 6 km from the town center, so transportation arrangements would be necessary to reach the Ancient Town. However, Cam An offers plenty of dining options so that food won’t be a problem. Here are some highly-rated accommodations in Cam An:
Luxury: Silk Sense Hoi An River Resort
Midrange: Life Beach Villa
Budget: Peach House
Hoi An Itinerary: Things To Do
Take a leisurely stroll through the captivating Hoi An Ancient Town
Compared to other cities in Vietnam, Hoi An is the epitome of a laid-back town. The blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture lends a distinct charm to the ancient town. With limited vehicle access, the streets in the center are pedestrian-friendly, making it a delightful place for leisurely strolls.
Walking through Hoi An feels like stepping into an enchanting fairy tale. Take your time to wander along its narrow lanes, admire the old houses, immerse yourself in the flourishing gardens, cross ancient bridges, and explore bustling markets.
The best way to experience the town’s charm is by leisurely exploring the captivating old town on foot. Here, you will encounter stunning architecture, historic buildings, charming cafes, and hidden treasures that transport you back in time, allowing you to savor the simple joys of life.
As evening descends, the old town takes on an even more captivating ambiance. The streets come alive with hundreds of beautifully adorned paper lanterns, casting a magical glow and creating a vibrant and unforgettable atmosphere. It’s the perfect time for a relaxing walk, soaking in the captivating sights that adorn your Hoi An itinerary.
Explore the intriguing historical buildings in Hoi An
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An’s old town is renowned for its wealth of ancient historical buildings. With approximately 800 structures, including museums, ancient homes, and picturesque temples, the town is a testament to its rich history. Many of these buildings are believed to date back as far as 2,000 years.
Numerous historical buildings of cultural significance are open for public viewing. While entry to the old town itself is free, certain clan associations and prominent temples require an admission ticket. The ticket, priced at VND 120,000, grants access to five buildings within a 24-hour period.
Admire the iconic Japanese Chua Cau
Including the iconic Japanese Chua Cau in your Hoi An itinerary is a must-do according to this Hoi An travel guide. This stunning bridge is not only one of the most beautiful spots in the old town but also one of the busiest. It’s often the first image that comes to mind when thinking of Hoi An.
The Japanese Chua Cau, built in the 1590s by the Japanese community, served as a link between their quarter and the Chinese quarters. It is more than just a bridge—it’s a symbol of Hoi An, representing the harmonious blend of diverse cultures that have shaped the city over the centuries.
Get a custom suit tailored to perfection
Hoi An is renowned throughout Vietnam for its textile industry, making it a sought-after destination for getting custom-made suits. The town is brimming with tailor shops offering an extensive range of options. Whether you’re looking for shoes, jackets, suits, or even wedding dresses, you can have them all tailored specifically to your preferences.
When visiting a tailor shop, you can select your preferred fabric and discuss your design ideas for the custom suit. The turnaround time for a tailored suit typically ranges from 24 hours to three days, depending on the complexity of the design. To ensure a smooth experience, it’s advisable to find a tailor and have your initial consultation upon arrival in Hoi An. Planning accordingly will help avoid any potential disappointment.
Shop for unique local handicrafts
Hoi An is renowned for its exquisite local handicrafts. If you have a penchant for shopping, you’ll find an abundance of stores, boutiques, and night market stalls offering charming souvenirs at affordable prices.
The market offers a wide array of goods, with a strong emphasis on custom tailoring and Vietnamese mementos. From quirky trinkets to high-quality art and textiles, you’ll find an extensive selection to choose from.
Additionally, many locally crafted arts and handmade products, created by ethnic minorities, make fantastic gifts or keepsakes.
Enjoy a cup of delicious Vietnamese coffee at a cafe
Hoi An is renowned as one of Vietnam’s top destinations for relaxation. In addition to strolling through the ancient town, unwinding at an outdoor café while sipping Vietnamese coffee is a wonderful way to experience tranquility in Hoi An. Simply find a cozy café, take a seat, indulge in a cup of coffee, and witness the breathtaking sunset over the historic city.
Café menus in Hoi An offer a variety of Vietnamese coffee options. The most popular choice is the Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk (Coffee Da). To enhance your culinary experience in Hoi An, you can also try the unique egg coffee (Coffee Trung). This delectable beverage is prepared using egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk, and freshly roasted coffee, creating a rich and creamy delight.
Witness the stunning sunset over the Thu Bon River
As the sun approaches the horizon, it’s essential to take a leisurely stroll along the banks of Thu Bon River. This scenic spot offers an unrivaled vantage point to witness the city’s captivating transformation at dusk. As the sun sets, you’ll be enchanted by the sight of boats gracefully gliding and vibrant paper lanterns adorning the Thu Bon River.
For an even more memorable experience, you’ll find numerous bars lining the river, providing an excellent vantage point for enjoying the sunset. Keep in mind that prices at these establishments may be higher due to their prime location, but the awe-inspiring view they offer is truly worth it.
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Hoi An night market
Exploring Hoi An’s night market is an essential experience, even if it’s just to marvel at the enchanting lanterns. Every evening, Nguyen Hoang Street, stretching 300 meters long, transforms into a vibrant night market. Located opposite the Cau Pagoda and alongside the dreamy Hoai River, the street offers a captivating atmosphere.
The bustling market is home to approximately 50 street vendors and stalls offering a diverse range of goods and food. From handcrafted jewelry and clothing to delectable street food, there is something for everyone. The lively ambiance, coupled with various entertainment options, creates a spectacle that shouldn’t be missed.
Take part in the joyful celebration of the Hoi An Lantern Festival
The UNESCO Heritage Site of Hoi An revives ancient traditions and celebrates the enchanting Lantern Festival under the full moon’s glow. Taking place on the 14th day of each lunar month from 17:30 to 22:00, the festival transforms the town into a magical spectacle. The streets are illuminated solely by the soft glow of lanterns, while the Hoai River is adorned with floating lanterns, creating a truly mesmerizing ambiance.
Releasing lanterns into the river is an experience not to be missed when visiting Hoi An. This cherished tradition symbolizes the cultural heritage and spiritual beliefs of the local people. Embark on a boat ride along the river and partake in this enchanting ritual by setting a lantern afloat and making a wish. Just ensure to check the festival dates before your visit to fully immerse yourself in this magical experience.
Explore the Ba Mu Temple Gates
Ba Mu Temple is a recently reopened but historically significant temple complex renowned for its intricately designed three-entrance gate. Originally constructed in the 17th century at a different location, it was later relocated to its current site in Hoi An and has undergone subsequent renovations.
Since its reopening, the temple’s striking gate has garnered significant attention and has become a popular Instagram spot in Hoi An. Despite the renovations, the gate has retained its ancient appearance, reminiscent of the grand palaces in Hue.
Relax on the beautiful An Bang Beach
If you’re seeking respite from the lively atmosphere of the old town, consider spending a day unwinding at An Bang Beach. Located just a short bike ride away from Hoi An Pho Co, this 4-kilometer stretch of sandy beach offers a tranquil escape.
At the beach, you’ll discover numerous bars equipped with sunbeds and deck chairs, allowing you to relax and immerse yourself in the serene surroundings fully. It’s the perfect spot to take a break from the bustling crowds of Hoi An while basking in the plentiful sunshine that Southeast Asia has to offer.
Taste the renowned and delicious Banh Mi, often considered the best in the world
If you’re in search of the finest and most affordable Banh Mi in Hoi An, recommend visiting Banh Mi Phuong restaurant for lunch or dinner. This local eatery is incredibly popular among the locals.
Please note that due to the exceptional taste and affordability, you may encounter long queues outside the restaurant, requiring a considerable wait. However, we can assure you that the Banh Mi served here is truly worth the wait.
Discover the picturesque countryside on a bike
To truly experience the beauty of Hoi An’s countryside and gain insights into the local way of life, you recommend embarking on a Bike Tour. This immersive experience will take you through the most breathtaking landscapes of Hoi An’s rural areas, allowing you to truly understand the essence of the local culture that may go unnoticed if you confine your visit to the old town.
For those seeking a deeper understanding of Hoi An beyond the superficial tourist attractions, you can take a tour and venture into the countryside on a bicycle. This will provide you with an authentic glimpse into the real Hoi An and its vibrant charm. The town is renowned for its picturesque countryside, adorned with lush rice paddies waiting to be explored.
Visit the ancient ruins of My Son
My Son Sanctuary, an ancient site, served as the spiritual capital of the Champa empire, which held sway over much of central and lower Vietnam between the 7th and 10th centuries.
Although My Son Sanctuary may not be as meticulously maintained as other ancient ruins in the region, it still offers a captivating day trip from Hoi An. Take a leisurely stroll through these ancient grounds and let your imagination transport you to the time when the Champa Kingdom reigned over central Vietnam.
Hoi An Cuisine
Despite its small size, Hoi An Ancient Town boasts an incredibly diverse culinary culture.
Pho Hoi Chicken Rice
Hoi An locals have perfected the art of preparing chicken rice, creating a dish so impressive that it has earned its own unique name: Pho Hoi chicken rice. Served with onions, sour papaya, Tra Que herbs, and a cup of soup containing heart, liver, and kidney to enhance its appeal.
The White Rose Cake
The White Rose Cake, also known as Dumpling-Cauldron Cake, consists of two types of dumplings with similar ingredients. The Cauldron Cake is filled with crushed ground shrimp mixed with pepper, garlic, onion, lemongrass, and secret spices. The dumplings are filled with pork, mushrooms, and sliced green onions and fried with secret spices. This special seasoning is one of the reasons why the White Rose Cakes can only be fully enjoyed in Hoi An.
This rustic dish has gained fame in Hoi An, thanks to the locally grown Cam Nam corn used in its preparation. The sweet soup carries a delightful, natural aroma from freshly broken corn. Unlike the coconut-based sweet soups in the South, Hoi An’s Che Bap retains the original taste of corn, with added richness from a sprinkle of juice. The best season for Cam Nam corn and this sweet soup is from March to September each year.
Similar to Thanh Tri Banh Cuon in Hanoi, Banh Cuon in Hoi An is not just a thin wrapper but also contains shrimp. The cake is garnished with fragrant onion oil and served with silk rolls.
Hoi An Banh Xeo
Hoi An Banh Xeo is an authentic specialty of the town, made from rice, shrimp, and meat. Making the perfect banh Xeo requires constant heat by the fire, making the rainy season from October to December the most suitable time for making banh Xeo in Hoi An.
Hoi An is a remarkable and captivating riverside town. Despite concerns about the impact of tourism, the city still preserves its rich history and culture, making it an irresistible destination. The beauty of the ancient town is so exceptional that you won’t mind the influx of visitors.
Vietnam Travel sincerely hopes that our Hoi An Travel Guide has provided you with ample suggestions, activities, and tips to assist you in planning your trip. Thank you for reading, and we wish you a fantastic time in Hoi An!