Set in rustic Vietnam, the beautiful Hoi An will capture your heart from the moment you arrive. Since our first visit in 2015, we’ve been back several times to experience the magic of Hoi An Ancient Town. From river boat tours and rooftop bars to admiring the colorful silk lanterns, there are so many fun things to do in Hoi An! A 2 night stay can easily turn into a week, and Hoi An Old Town is sure to become one of your favorite places in the country.
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How to Get to Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi an is located in Central Vietnam in the Quang Nam Province. The easiest way to get to this special town is to fly into the nearby city of Da Nang.
Da Nang International Airport has flights arriving both domestically (from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and all around Southeast Asia.
The best time to visit is outside of the rainy season between February and May. From Da Nang Airport, it’s about a 30 minute drive to Hoi An Ancient Town.
There are also overnight buses & trains that come from around Vietnam to the central region.
Check out all our Vietnam articles to help plan your trip! We cover everything from the best Vietnamese food to 50 travel tips & how to get around. You can also find our Northern Vietnam and Southern itineraries as well as an amazing 1 month route!
→ Start Planning: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Ha Giang – Tam Coc – Phong Nha-Ke Bang – Da Nang – Mui Ne – Da Lat – Ho Chi Minh – Phu Quoc
21 Things to Do in Hoi An Vietnam
1. Visit Hoi An Central Market
The first thing you’ll want to do when you get to Hoi An is stop into the Central Market. The outdoor area is surrounded with locals selling produce, while the inside is where you can sit down for a meal.
The best part is that there isn’t many dishes here that will set you back more than a couple dollars!
Make sure to stop by and see our soup lady in the Hoi An Central Market when you’re there. You can find her by the photo hanging behind her of Anthony Bourdain.
Yes, the legend himself actually ate here! Honestly, we’re kind of confused why our photo isn’t up there yet with the amount of times we’ve eaten at her stall!
→ Best Vietnam Food: 34 Delicious Dishes to Try On Your First Visit
2. Try Traditional Specialities
While we’re on the topic of food, it’s important to know that Hoi An has some of the best in Vietnam! We have gone on record saying that Cao Lau from the Hoi An Central Market is one of top 10 dishes we’ve had in our lives.
If you know anything about us it’s that we love to travel and eat…. So that’s saying a lot when it comes to the best things to do in Hoi An! Make sure to indulge in Cao Lau and these other local dishes during your visit.
- Cao Lau: Thick well water noodles with pork and gravy. The noodles are only made in Hoi An!
- Rose Water Dumplings: Rose shaped dumplings filled with minced shrimp and spices.
- Mi Quang: Rice noodles with peanuts, sauce, and quail egg.
- Com Ga: Local take on chicken And rice. Some great ones can be found around the Hoi An Night Market.
- Hoanh Thanh Chien: Fried wontons filled With minced pork and ground shrimp.
3. Cruise Hoi An Old Town by Bicycle
Bicycles are perfect for riding through Hoi An Ancient Town and navigating the back streets. We do recommend going early to skip the crowds. Yet, don’t worry if you have to get off and walk the bike around the busy Hoi An Market.
If you want to do some shopping or grab lunch there are plenty of places that you can pay to park for only 5,000 VND. It’s also super fun to ride through nature on the outskirts of Hoi An.
4. Get Lost on A Motorbike
Unlike most places in Vietnam, we highly recommend renting a motorbike during your stay if you’re somewhat experienced. For just a $4-5 USD you can visit the nearby town of Da Nang, or head out for the famous ride on Hai Van Pass!
Having a motorbike is the key to finding the more local food spots outside of old town and getting to all the amazing things to do in Hoi An.
5. Take in the Rice Paddies & Countryside
If doesn’t matter if you go by bicycle, motorbike, or even take a short walk! Having an hour or two to explore the rice fields and farmlands will be a highlight of your visit.
There is no set route or one road, but head out of town towards the beach and turn off the side streets. If you’re lucky you might even make friends with a Hoi An Ox!
6. Temple Hop Through Hoi An Ancient Town
There is so much history hiding behind the walls of Hoi An Ancient Town. In fact, if you don’t look for it you might miss it completely!
Some of the oldest houses in Vietnam and the 17th century Ba Mu Temple Gate actually just opened to the public for the first time recently. From the Hoi An information center you can buy a pass (120,000 VND) to enter 5 historical sites and temples around town.
7. Drink Fresh Beer
Stop in at any restaurant or cafe advertising “fresh beer” along the water and you’re in for a deal of a lifetime. Starting at just .15 cents USD each (not kidding), there is no better or cheaper way to cool off on a hot day!! One will quickly turn into two, and two can easily turn into an afternoon on the river.
The only other place we’ve found good fresh beer was in Hanoi Old Quarter in the capital city. A normal canned or bottled beer in Hoi An Old Town won’t be more than $1 USD either, but you can’t beat a fresh beer.
8. Try the Best Banh Mi’s
If you didn’t know, there is an epic food battle going on for the title of best Banh Mi! This sandwich staple can be found all over the country. Yet, two of the most delicious ones are right in Hoi An Vietnam.
Banh Mi Phuong and Queen Banh Mi are two classic establishments which travelers from all over the world claim as their favorites. Let us know which one is your favorite in the comments!
→ Best Banh Mi in Hoi An Vietnam: Phuong vs Queen Banh Mi
9. Get A Custom Outfit Made
Did you know shopping is one of the best things to do in Hoi An? It won’t take long to notice store after store selling custom dresses, suits, pants, and more!
This small town is known for their tailor shops where you can get clothing made for a quarter of what you might pay back home. Beautiful dresses range from $10-25 USD and they sell everything from skirts to ball gowns. Also, custom-made suits start at $100 USD or less. So if you’re looking to ship a new wardrobe home, this is the place to do it!
Around the Hoi An Central Market is the ideal place to find good deals on clothes. Make sure you ask the exact cost before committing to anything. They can vary from store to store and the price is usually negotiable.
10. Take a Hoi An Cooking Class
There is so much tasty food in Vietnam so why not learn how to make it yourself?? One of our favorite things to do in Hoi An is taking a cooking class. There are different options from a group setting to private experiences.
The best classes take you to the morning local market so you can actually shop for your own ingredients! This is a cool way to learn about all the fresh fruits and vegetables of the area before you get to cooking.
11. Watch the Sunset From Above
When the sun starts to set on Hoi An Vietnam the perfect place to be is on the roof! There are several rooftop bars or coffee houses to enjoy during your visit to this UNESCO world heritage site.
Here you can take in the views of the French influenced architecture that stretches into the distance. Check out some of our favorite rooftop bars and cafes below.
→ 6 Best Rooftop Cafes & Bars in Hoi An Vietnam
12. Marvel At the Silk Lanterns
As the home of the Vietnamese silk lantern, these magical lamps light up the streets of Hoi An Ancient Town every night. Wander through the streets, cross the river, and soak in the beauty of Hoi An.
The colorful lanterns can be seen hanging by the dozens from each stand. They make both an excellent and inexpensive gift ($3-5 USD) for someone back home if you have extra room in your suitcase! You can also do a silk lantern workshop where you learn how to make your own!
13. Explore the Hoi An Night Market
Now we should mention that the silk lanterns won’t be the only thing to draw you over the bridge at night! There is an entire old quarter here where you can find all kinds of cheap arts and crafts for a great price.
Several food stalls pop up selling everything from frog legs to jelly desserts, and more! If you’re not sure where to start you can even jump on a night time food tour.
14. Light a Floating Candle
Hundreds of floating candles fill the river of Hoi An at night, only adding to the charm of one of Vietnam’s best destinations. You can buy them from one of the many elderly women, and use a long rod to lower it into the water before you make a wish!
15. Jump On a Hoi An River Boat Ride
After you light your candle it’s time to get out on the water. One of the best things to do in Hoi An at night as take a traditional boat ride up the river.
For a small fee you can go up and down the section of the river in Hoi An Old Town. If you enjoy this, you can take a longer boat further up the river during the day.
16. Enjoy Dinner on the Red Benches
Hungry yet? Well, we have a treat for you! Walk down to the river of Hoi An Ancient Town to where the Japanese bridge is. Then cross over along the water, and you’ll come to the famous red benches.
Here there are around ten local food vendors offering up cheap meals and drinks along the river. The best options are the Hoi An specialties that we talked about earlier, and the white rose dumplings and cao lầu are a must try!
17. Hit The Hoi An Beaches
Like most of Vietnam, Hoi An is not known for its beaches. Still, on a hot day know that there is a few spots to jump in the ocean and cool off! The most popular places for a swim are An Nang and Cui Dai beach.
Cui Dai is small and very local, where An Nang is bigger and much more touristy. Our recommendation is to actually skip those and find your own slice of sand.
Cruise up the coast and cut in at one of the many small side streets. This way you can find your own part of the beach to enjoy with no people. Also, it’s good to know that the beach gets nicer and nicer as you head north towards Da Nang.
18. Ride A Coconut Boat
Just outside Hoi An Ancient Town is an interesting place called coconut gardens. This is where you take in the small river passes on a traditional boat. If we’re being completely honest this wasn’t one of the best places we visited. However, many travelers consider it one of the top things to do in Hoi An.
The traditional basket boat ride transforms here into an upbeat show with music, races, and singing. If that sounds up your alley then you’re sure to have a good time!
Best Day Trips From Hoi An Vietnam
While these aren’t exactly things to do in Hoi An, it’s a great place to jump off to more nearby attractions. A day trip to any of these fantastic locations are well worth it if you have time!
19. Visit My Son Sanctuary
After seeing all the historic buildings of Hoi An, there is an even more legendary site to see! The temples of My Son are stunning and date back to Champa Kingdom of the 4th century .
From Hoi An Ancient Town, take a bus there and back with a guided tour. You can also opt to do a river boat cruise back instead of the bus ride. This is one of the best ways to see My Son on a budget!
→ My Son Sanctuary Vietnam: 5 Helpful Things to Know First!
20. Hike Marble Mountain
The Marble Mountains are named after the five marble and limestone hills located just outside Hoi An Vietnam. Climb the steps to the top of one, or pay a little extra to take a ride on the elevator.
While exploring you’ll find temples, caves, and beautiful views of nature in the distance. Just make sure to wear sneakers for this adventure as you’ll be crawling through small holes and caves to see it all!
21. Trip to Ba Na Hills
Tourism at Ba Na Hills has exploded in recent years due to the stunning “Hands of God” bridge. Besides that, you will find an entire new world on top of the mountain.
This area was actually a French retreat back in the 19th century and is complete with a castle and village. To get there you can ride on one of the longest cable cars in the world, which is a fun experience in itself!
Where To Stay In Hoi An Vietnam
Ultra Luxury – Little Riverside Hoi An – Beautiful upscale hotel & spa located on the river just down the street from the central market. The highlight of the hotel is the outdoor pool facing the banks of the Thu Bon river.
Apartment – Quang Vinh Apartment and Hotel Hoi An – Our home away from home for every visit to Hoi An Vietnam. Bright rooms, a wonderful rooftop pool, and a quick walk to the Hoi An Night Market.
Fun Vacation – Hoi An Riverside Villas & Apartments – Just outside the craziness of Hoi An Old Town. Enjoy a stay overlooking the rice paddies while still being a quick bicycle ride away from everything.
Hostel Stay – Cheerful Hoi An Hostel – Cute local hostel that is super popular with backpackers visiting the area. Good option to meet other travelers and has a buffet breakfast included.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Hoi An Vietnam? Leave us a comment!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Vietnam Travel Planning
Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through Vietnam!
Flights: For cheap flight deals check out Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc for $20 USD and Vietnam to Thailand for less than $50!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites for hotels such as Booking.com and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Tours: Get Your Guide is an amazing place to find fun activities all over Vietnam! There is everything from a Hanoi Cooking Class and market tour to a Mekong Delta Pagoda & rowing boat trip, and even the Phu Quoc Cable Car Ride with three island snorkeling tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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