This is a complete guide to Hoi An. The coastal Vietnamese town of Hoi An is known for its sleepy atmosphere and strong French influence. It’s a great spot to relax between bustling capital cities, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Here are 35+ Incredible things to do to in Hoi An that cover must-see destinations, things to do, what to eat and travel tips to Hoi An. Let’s get started.
#1. Discover Japanese Covered Bridge
The Japanese Covered Bridge, which dates back to the 18th century, is one of the most prominent attractions in Hoi An Ancient Town. Spanning 18 metres in length, locals believe that it was built by the Japanese then living in Hoi An as a way to reach the Chinese quarter across the water. In 1719, Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu officiated the bridge by carving three Chinese symbols above the entrance. The Japanese Covered Bridge also features intricate sculptures of two dogs and two monkeys to represent the birth years of prominent Japanese Emperors
- Location: West end of Tran Phu Street, Hoi An Ancient Town
#2. Ride basket boat in Hoi An
If you’ve visited the coastal areas of central Vietnam or floated along any of its many waterways, you might have noticed something a little unusual about some of the boats in these parts. In fact, when lying unused on the shore, you might not even have guessed that they were boats – which is the whole idea.
The thung chai, or “basket boat”, traces its history back to the French colonial era. As the story goes, the French arrived in Vietnam and began levying taxes left, right and centre – including a tax on the ownership of boats. Most of the poor Vietnamese fishermen who depended on boats for their livelihood could not afford to pay the taxes, so they invented a new type of boat: the thung chai.
Attempt to row a thung chai and you will almost invariably just send yourself in circles – the proper technique is to gently wave the paddle back and forth through the water in an arcing motion.
The Basket Boat is a unique and very interesting eco things to do in Hoi An that is strongly recommended if you are looking for some fun activities on the river or sea with special local experiences.
#3 Sunbathe on An Bang beach
Hoi An’s most famous beach is Cua Dai, west of the city, but you should head to An Bang instead if you want some peace in the sun away from hordes of tourists. Slightly north of Cua Dai, An Bang is home to stretches of pristine white sand, and beachside restaurants. Visitors can even opt to stay in a beachside villa, for a romantic getaway or some time to meditate in beautiful surroundings.
#4. Swimming & Snorkelling at Cua Dai Beach
Cua Dai Beach offers a relaxing seaside escape from the ancient streets of Hoi An. Boasting three-kilometre stretch of white sand and gentle waves, the beach is relatively quiet most of the time apart from weekends and public holidays. After a day of swimming, and snorkelling, Cau Dai Beach is also worth staying for dinner at the numerous seafood restaurants located around the coast. Easily accessible via taxi or xe om, Cua Dai Beach is a 15-minute drive from Hoi An Ancient
#5. Tra Que Vegetable Village
Tra Que Vegetable Village is a must for anyone interested in truly absorbing the maximum amount of culture. One of the things I love the most about Vietnam is its simple and organic reliance upon the Earth. Its cuisine is so earthy and natural. Nothing is overly processed and the dishes emanate the most aromatic enticing smells. You can walk to the local market and find herbs that just don’t exist in the West.
Tra Que Vegetable Village offers amazing insight into the healthier and simpler lifestyle in Vietnam. At Tra Que Village, in addition to local farm tours, you can also take cooking classes
#6. Admire the Fujian Assembly Hall (Hoi Quan Phuc Kien)
The 17th century Fujian Assembly Hall is one of the grandest buildings in Hoi An. Constructed as a social and sacred space for the Fujian Chinese community of Hoi An, the Hall features features a massive gateway adorned with colorful carvings of Chinese mythological figures, and an impressive main courtyard. Local people frequently come to pray at the Fujian Assembly Hall when they want luck in conceiving children, and you will find twelve “midwives” among the pantheon of statues and carved figures throughout the Assembly Hall grounds.
- Location: 46 Tran Phu Street.
#7. Hoi An Museum of History & Culture
Where the Thu Bon River flows directly into the East China Sea, Hoi An was once one of the major Asian trade hubs. From the 16th to 18th century merchants visited from across the globe, stopping by as they awaited a change in weather before moving on. Traders from France, Portugal and the Netherlands mingled with those from Japan, China, Thailand, India and Vietnam along the bustling streets of Hoi An’s old town.
- Location: Số 13 Nguyen Hue Street
#8. Tan Ky Old house
- Located: 101 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, in the Old Quarter of Hoi An Ancient Town, Tan Ky
Old house is an almost perfect example of a 18th merchant’s residence in this major commercial port town. The name Tan Ky, meaning “Progress Shop”, was given to the house by the second generation to express the owner’s wish for a prosperous business.
If you’re near the Japanese Bridge, walk down Bach Dang Street into Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. It’s suggested to visit the place at the beginning or end of the day, not in the middle. Having a cup of coffee at one of the coffee shops near the house is also told to be interesting while exploring this attraction.
#9. Hoi An Museum of Trade Ceramics
Hoi An Museum of Trade Ceramics is set within a restored timber house along Tran Phu Street, displaying a vast selection of foreign ceramics with detailed English-written descriptions. Offering a cultural insight into the history of Hoi An and foreign relationships with countries such as Japan, China and India, these artefacts mainly date back between the 8th and 18th centuries.
#10. Hoi An Art Craft Manufacturing Workshop
This 200-year-old house has 30-minute musical performances at 10:15 and 3:15 daily. In the workshop, talented artisans craft lanterns, carve wood, shape pottery, and embroider silks, all of which can be purchased onsite.
The workshop also has guides that can explain the history of the individual crafts and give insights into the techniques used by the artisans. Catering to the tourist population of Hoi An, the workshop emphasises traditional Vietnamese culture and offers performance shows daily, including dance, music, theatre and song.
Tickets are available on the corner of Bach Dang and Chau Thuong Van beside the Japanese Covered Bridge. Hour-long craft workshops run daily (bookable onsite), and are great for kids.
- Location: 9 Nguyễn Thái Học, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam
#11. Explore the countryside by bike
Hoi An is surrounded by lush, green countryside, and it would be a shame not to venture out of the city during your stay. Numerous cycling tours are on offer in Hoi An, which take participants out to rice paddies, hills, villages, and pristine beaches. More adventurous travelers can opt to rent a vehicle and try a day trip out of the city, and perhaps even head north to nearby Danang, where the beautiful Nui Son Tra peninsula is located.
#12. Walk Hoi An Ancient Town
Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it’s an incredibly preserved ancient trading town from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The homes and colors of the streets are all indicative of the many cultural influences upon this tiny port town. The architecture and the streets are small and narrow so it’s fun to spend hours simply wandering the streets in and out of shops and cafes.
#13. Get tailored cloth in Hoi An
One of Hoi An’s biggest tourist drawcards are the tailors that line the streets in the centre of town. Fancy suits and dresses, t-shirts, bags, leather shoes – whatever you want made, someone can make it happen.
Items that are pricey back home, like suits and gowns, are drastically cheaper, and everyday clothing can be anywhere between low and average price depending on the quality you are after and detail required. The best part is, almost all tailors in Hoi An offer free fittings and adjustments until it is perfect.
If you do plan on getting clothing made, make sure you do your research and shop around. Try a few different shops, get quotes before settling (and try to haggle), and ensure you ask how quick their turnaround is (most are around 24-48 hours).
#14. Take a Trip To My Son Sanctuary
If you haven’t been to Cambodia and seen the ruins at Angkor, here in My Son, you’ll find Champa ruins similar to those in Angkor. My Son is quite close to Hoi An so you can reach My Son either on bicycle or through driving.
Summers in Vietnam are brutal and although we went to My Son in March, it was still dreadfully hot. I can’t imagine the peak of summer. We were too miserable to really even enjoy it. Perhaps mornings or late afternoons are a better time to go in the middle of the summer if you must. But just be mindful of the heat. Vietnam gets hot.
#15. Scuba Diving at Cham Island (Cu Lao Cham)
What appeals to tourists in Cham Island is its wide variety of leisure activities in a picturesque and pristine setting. Traditional forms of recreation range from swimming on crystal-clear beaches, sunbathing on long-stretching white-sandy coast to exploring the forest. For those who are interested in marine life exploration activities, there are available facilities for water sports like: swimming, water skiing, paragliding, kayaking, kite flying, boat racing and scuba diving. This kingdom of aquatic animals is a collection of marine algae, sea grass, sea creatures and especially coral reefs. Tourists are expected to encounter a beautiful marine world with an abundance of colorful fishes, lobsters, mollusks under the clear water-surface.
#16. Visit one of Hoi An’s oldest Buddhist temples – Van Duc Pagoda
Van Duc Pagoda dates back to the late 17th century, where locals pray to Buddhist deities such as Amitabha Buddha, Dia Tang Bodhisattva, and Avalokitecvara Bodhisattva. Hailed as one of Hoi An’s oldest Buddhist temples, the yellow-hued establishment is fitted with three worship halls, intricate animal sculptures, paintings of deities, potted plants, and plenty of shady trees. Its peaceful surroundings draws numerous visitors looking to pay their respects, get fortunes told, or simply marvel at the well-preserved architecture. On full moons and auspicious celebrations, you can also see local monks releasing paper lanterns into the river whilst chanting prayers.
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 18:00
- Location: Dong Na Village, Cam Ha Commune, Hoi An
#18. Explore the riverside
If you’re wandering through the centre of Hoi An, you are likely to pass by the shore of the Thu Bon River. There are hundreds of market stalls lined up next to the water: jewellery, trinkets, clothes, seafood – you name it, you’ll find it there.
Buy some tamarinds to crack open and chew on, grab some presents for family members. Pretend not to be interested in the cheesy tourist shirts (‘Good morning Vietnam!’) and then buy one in four different colours. Avoid the ladies who ask if you’d like your nails done on the side of the road, and as the locals suggest, hold onto your bag – tight. Take up a shouted offer for a boat ride.
If you tire of the hustle and bustle, duck into one of the cafes along the riverfront. Sit down out of the heat and grab a drink, or order some cao lau – the delicious traditional noodle dish of Hoi An. Wait for the sun to go down, and watch the streets light up with colourful lanterns.
19. Feast your mouth with Hoi An foodies.
We ate our way through three cities in Vietnam and I found the food in Hoi An to be the most interesting. Many of the dishes we tried are local specialties, things like (authentic) cao lầu and banh bao banh vac can be found only in Hoi An and much of it has to do with the ingredients.
Locally sourced ingredients figure prominently in Hoi An cuisine. Seafood is fished from the Thu Bon river and flour is milled from rice grown in nearby fields. But the best example perhaps is the water. Recipes for noodles and dough call for alkaline water drawn from ancient local wells, which is a large reason why many of Hoi An’s core dishes can’t be replicated elsewhere.
20. Get some perspectives in Hoi An Rooftop coffee
Needless to say, Hoi An is the apple of visitor’ eyes. The ancient town in central Vietnam steals the hearts of visitors with a calm and genuine atmosphere that naturally flows through lines of rustic yellow houses standing humbly side by side, challenging a world of rapid change.
Honestly, one of the coolest ways to soak in Hoi An is to see it from above. If you’re a photographer, this is a no brainer, but photographers are often experts at seeking out novel perspectives. The best way to view the different perspectives of the city is to simply wander Old Town and to snag a seat at a rooftops coffeeshop.
When it comes to rooftop coffee house, the rooftops at Faifo Coffee and The Chef Café are a great choice.
Make your way to these rooftops to discover Hoi An from another perspective, because sometimes, you should stand back and take a look at the whole picture to find out how each and every single piece plays its part in the mosaic.
When should I visit Hoi An? What is Hoi An weather?
Typical for the tropical climate of Vietnam, Hoi An city possesses warm weather the whole year with its average temperature of 29 Degree Celsius. The city only has two main seasons: rainy and dry seasons instead of four seasons like in Northern Vietnam.
Hoi An’s dry season from February to May is the best time to visit the town, since its weather becomes very mild and beautiful with moderate temperature, low humidity, less rain and warm sunshine
If you are lucky enough to arrive at the town on the 14th day of a lunar month, Hoi An will be much more charming with its Full Moon Festival and “Old Street Night” exclusively available on that day.
See more: Hoi An weather by month