2 days are enough to know the highlights in Hoi An, a famous tourist destination in Central Vietnam. And for those who travel from city to city, 48 hours are not too long and too short to stay overnight and explore interesting things around. So, what to do for 2 days in Hoi An is one of the most frequently asked questions. Together with 3 days in the neighbouring city Da Nang, travelers spend nearly a week in the middle part of the country. If would like to visit Hue, the former capital of Vietnam, an additional couple of days should be planned.
This guide outlines a 2-day itinerary for first timers in Hoi An. The first day has the focus on Hoi An Old Town, a must see in the city, and a leading tourist destination in the country. It’s easy to spend one day there because there are so many things to see, do, eat and shop. A visit to An Bang Beach provides a chance to unwind after a long walking tour in town and be closer to one of Vietnam’s finest coastlines. The second day is opener. Travelers can book a half-day tour to a stunning attraction and relax before enjoying dinner and nightlife in the Old Town. For explorers, it’s possible to have an extra experience in free hours. An island trip or discovery to a place in Hoi An’s outskirts may fill the daytime. Ba Na Hills & Golden Bridge or Cham Island are the most popular guided day trips.
- 3 Days in Hoi An
- Da Nang and Hoi An Itinerary
- What to Do in Da Nang for 3 Days?
- Da Nang or Hoi An – Which is Better to Stay?
A Quick Hoi An Travel Guide
– Location: 30km south of Da Nang international airport, Quang Nam province
– Area: 60 km2, covering 9 urban wards and 4 rural communes (Cam Thanh, Cam Ha, Cam Kim and Tan Hiep (Cham Islands))
– Population: 150,000 people, mostly Viet (or Kinh) ethnic
– Weather: two seasons in the year: the dry from February to end of August, and the dry from September to January the next year. Hottest months feature an average temperature of 39oC and it’s 22 oC in the coldest time. From October to December, typhoons occur and cause flooding in the lowlands, including the Old Town.
– Names: Hoi An means “peaceful meeting place”, known as Faifoo by European merchants or Hoai Pho by Chinese
– How to get to: a transfer from Da Nang if traveling by air, train, bus and cruise. It takes 40 minutes by car and a little longer by motorcycle. Public bus is the cheapest way to get from Da Nang to Hoi An.
– Religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Confucianism, Caodaism, Protestantism, folk religions
– Festivals: Lantern or Full-moon festival, New year festival, Mid-autumn festival, Whale festival
Getting around during 2 days in Hoi An
– Walking: If booking an accommodation in the Hoi An center, the distance to the Old Town and top places around it is walkable. From there to Tra Que village and An Bang beach is less than 3,5 km, so many people like to travel on foot. On the way, breezy rice paddies are a highlight, accompanied with a brilliant sunset before it’s dark.
– Taxi and car: Taxi is the most convenient road vehicle, available at nearly all times of the day and every corner of the city. The cost is around 14,000 VND for each kilometer and under 1 km ride. If moving beyond Hoi An’s boundaries, should hire a private car.
– Motorcycle: A day rental costs from 100,000 to 200,000 VND, and parking fee is often 5,000 VND or smaller. Travelers can tour around and explore many places without difficulties because of convenience, low price and flexibility. In pedestrian hours in the Old Town, not allowed to come in.
– Bicycle: Nearly all accommodations provide a bicycle for free. Travelers can ride it to move around, including the Old Town where a motorcycle is unallowed. Surrounding countryside of the town is a favourite of cyclists, due to peaceful routes through rice fields and villages where people’s lifestyle is still authentic. It takes 40 minutes maximum to get to famous tourist attractions within Hoi An’s boundaries.
– Shuttle bus: Many hotels and resorts offer a free shuttle bus to different places in Hoi An, with a fixed reschedule. The Old Town and beaches are most popular. If not available in your accommodation, you may hire a ride from the Hoi An Shuttle Bus (an enterprise). 6-seat and 8-seat buggies are two choices now, costing from 50,000 VND.
1st Day Itinerary: Hoi An Old Town + An Bang Beach
Visit Places Covered by Hoi An Old Town Ticket
Hoi An Old Town World Heritage is the focus of the first day because it’s a must-visit place. In short, this is the best-preserved South-east Asian trading town that reached its apogee in international commerce from 15th to 19th century. The current townscape is a unique result of Vietnamese and Chinese architecture in 17th and 18th century, and European influences later. Today, every tourist has to buy an entrance ticket to legally wander around its lantern-lit quarters and sightsee well-kept historical buildings. It costs 120,000 VND, and covers the entry to 5 amongst 21 places. These are our recommendations for your first ticket:
(1) Japanese Covered Bridge: the emblem of whole town, 17th century-built wooden bridge with a Taoist temple behind, featured on the bill of 50,000 VND
(2) Old House of Tan Ky: a mid-18th-century built merchant house, architecture mixed between Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese cultures, history explanation from an in-house guide
(3) Fujian Assembly Hall: largest Chinese building, 17th century-built and ornate temple for worship of the God of Sea.
(4) A Museum You Like: one of themes – trade ceramic, Sa Huynh culture, folklore, history and culture, traditional medicine.
(5) Traditional Art Performance House: long-standing Vietnamese tradition in singing, performing the play, dancing and playing musical instruments, several shows held during the day.
Read also: Hoi An Old Town Travel Guide
Get a Tailor-made Garment
Getting a custom made suit or other fashion items is one of the most popular things to do in Hoi An Old Town. Tailoring here has a long history, at least from 15th century when the town was a major stopover in the Maritime Silk Road. It’s titled as Vietnam’s capital of tailors. While strolling lantern streets, visitors will see a lot of tailor shops where collections of fabric, color, quality, style and price are abundant. Any model on the internet is also easy for local tailors to make the same. After measurements, it’s feasible to go for the last fitting the next day. Shipping home is available, costing not expensive.
Have a Coffee Break
Hoi An Old Town is famous for many coffee shops that serve both Vietnamese and western-style coffees. The best places use the beans imported from the Central highlands, Vietnam’s largest cultivation area, and a standout feature (like quality, decoration concept, view, customer service, etc). No doubt, they’re nice to sit to take a break in the walking tour around the town.
Read also: Best Coffee Shops in Hoi An
Lunch in Old Town
There are plenty of places to eat in the Old Town, but for the first visit, we recommend trying local foods. Where the most dishes are served is the Central Market. It’s easy to see Mi quang, Cao lau, white rose dumpling, fried wonton and others on the menu of the carts there. Eating in a market is an experience that follows what locals do. Not far away, Banh Mi Phuong was visited by Anthony Bourdian (American chef celebrity) who praised its banh mi sandwich as the best in Hoi An. On the same road, visitors can taste local-style chicken rice in the nationally-known restaurant Com Ga Ba Buoi or crispy rice pancakes in Banh Xeo Gieng Ba Le in a lane leading to the oldest well. For refreshment, five-flavoured herb tea of Quan Mot in the front of Duc An Old House, is a signature drink.
An Bang Beach
This Hoi An’s best beach is 3 km from the Old Town, requiring only a short ride to get to. Its shore features powdery sands, cleanliness and being unspoiled by large tourist constructions. The most popular swimming spot is at the end of Hai Ba Trung St. Near unpolluted waters, there are plenty of sun chairs to relax, spacious expanses to lounge, and breezy bars to get icy drinks. Local foot masseuse are around, providing cheap massages.
Read also: An Bang Beach Travel Guide
Dinner in a Seaside or Old Town Restaurant
An Bang Beach and Hoi An Old Town accommodate many dinner restaurants where travelers can seek a quality meal, good services and atmospheric spaces. The seaside venues are famous for fresh, well-garnished seafood dishes with a scenic view and cool breezes. Live music is performed on some selected nights of the week. There are so many more options in Hoi An’s oldest part, varying in location, style, price and décor. Fine dining, vegan, Vietnamese, local international eats are all here. Numerous kitchens are headed by world-prized or Vietnam’s leading chefs, giving an outstanding culinary experience. If choosing a place on the waterfront, the sparkly scene of lanterns from river to houses, absolutely is an unforgettable memory. With romantic vibes also, reserving a table on a dinner cruise is perfect for couples and honeymoons.
Read also: An Bang Beach Restaurants, Hoi An Old Town Restaurants
Lantern Quarters & Lantern Boat Ride
Strolling around historical streets of Hoi An town to see thousands of colorful lanterns and taking pictures, is the favourite of all travelers. Throughout the Lantern festival in every full moon, the beauty is surreal, delightful and iconic to the entire city. In the canal, the lantern boat ride serves a leisure cruise to view it from a different point. Lighting up a candle paper lantern and dropping down to the water are what locals often do, to pray for good things in life. This is a low-cost thing to do.
Read also: Hoi An Lantern Festival (or Fullmoon Festival), Hoi An Boat Town Boats
Nguyen Hoang Night Market
Opened after the sunset, this chaotic attraction is a short walk from lantern-lit streets and lantern boat piers. Visitors just need to go across the An Hoi Bridge, turn right and look to the left. As the largest night market, there is a variety of things to eat, buy, see and photograph. The highlights here are shimmering lantern shops that perfect backgrounds for social media pictures, delicious street foods and reasonably-priced souvenirs to buy. Pickpockets may be around, so remembering to secure your belongings.
Read also: Hoi An Night Market
Nightlife in Nguyen Phuc Chu Pub Street
Before calling it a night, a divine cocktail in a bar in Nguyen Phuc Chu St (near the Night Market) is perfect to end the first day. It may open until midnight. In top bars, social atmosphere, trendy music, pool table, drinking games, happy hours, dance floors are what to expect. If feeling hungry, some banh mi stalls are nearby, with prices starting from 20,000 VND.
Read also: Hoi An’s Best Bars
Things to Do for 2nd Day
The Marble Mountains
Main article: The Marble Mountains
This cluster of five striking marble mountains is 18 km north of Hoi An center. Along the hike around Thuy Son (the largest mountain), visitors can expect to see ancient Buddhist temples, incredible caves and grottoes with small shrines, scenic viewpoints and peaks. Although an elevator was built, it’s still needed to climb some hundreds of steep steps. In the surrounding area, there are lots of sculptures made by skilled artisans of 400-years-old Non Nuoc Stone Carving Village.
Read also: Half Day Marble Mountains Tour
Hoi An Coconut Village including Basket Boat Ride
Main articles: Hoi An Coconut Village, Basket Boat Ride
6km east to Hoi An Old Town, Cam Thanh is known as the Coconut village as it owns a vast palm forest. After being a Vietcong’s hiding place during two latest wars, this nearly-primitive ecosystem becomes a Unesco world biosphere reserve. The best way to access and explore it is by a basket (round) boat. Invented and only used by local fishers, now the ride on a basket boat is a special experience. In which, passengers have a chance to be closer to nature and better understand local culture.
Read also: Half Day Hoi An Countryside Experience
My Son Sanctuary
Main article: My Son Sanctuary
Hidden away in a tropical forest under foot of the Cat Tooth mountain, My Son Sanctuary is 55 km west of Hoi An center. From 4th to 14th centuries, this holy land was a complex of 70 Hindu brick towers and temples constructed by Champa kingdom’s rulers. Nowadays, only 20 of which still stand on the ground. Building techniques of the Chams are not yet fully discovered. A walk around here allows visitors to learn more about the culture of a disappeared state which dominated Central Vietnam from 2nd to early 19th centuries. Thanks to being located in a well-protected nature reserve, it’s a true escape from hustle and bustle. In 1999, My Son won the Unesco world heritage site title.
Read also: Half-day My Son Sanctuary Tour
Classes & Workshops
Main article: Hoi An’s Cooking Class, Craft Workshops in Hoi An
Hands-on classes and workshops in Hoi An are many to choose from. Any of them provides a chance to learn how to make things from scratch, under detailed instruction from the artisans. In a cooking class, it’s the chance to get insight into some Vietnamese and Hoianian traditional foods. All members of the family can join, including vegans. During the workshops, that’s the chance to make a handicraft object by yourself. Besides knowledge and skills, the object is a great souvenir to bring home and start stories about the country. Now, it’s possible to see workshops in making lanterns, potteries, wood or bamboo sculptures, leather items, masks, sedge mat and coffee. Photo workshop is also available.
Tra Que Vegetable Village
Main article: Tra Que Vegetable Village
It’s easy to complete a half day in Tra Que vegetable village, 3 km north of Hoi An Old Town. This place is famous for organically-grown vegetable and herb gardens that produce the highest quality to the market. Some local food specialties require herbs from here, as a must. These are activities that travelers can choose to experience: learning how to grow vegetables with a farmer from scratch, cooking class, foot massage, cycling tour, fishing tour and watching sunset from nearby rice paddies. If traveling with kids, Tra Que village deserves a visit.
Hoi An Countryside Tours
Main article: Hoi An’s Cycling Tours
Recommended to self-guided travelers: Countryside around Hoi An
A countryside tour in Hoi An can be arranged by bicycle, motorcycle, side motorcycle or jeep, but the most popular one is bicycle. On the wheels, the riders can expect to go across tranquil, breezy rice paddies and rural villages. Lifestyle, cultural traditions and handicrafts there are still alive and unchanged. A local guide is needed to unlock hidden gems and interact with locals. Cam Kim Island, Tra Que Vegetable Village’s surroundings and Cam Thanh (aka Coconut Village) are the best choices to tour around.
Cham Island Day Tour
Main article: Cham Island Hoi An
18 km off the coast of Hoi An, Cham Island (marine park) is well-known for its sandy beaches, fresh seafoods, and especially beautiful coral reefs. Snorkelers and divers all know this Unesco world biosphere reserve. Joining a day tour is the most popular way travelers choose to explore it. The package often includes a round trip speedboat ride, entrance tickets and fee, walking tour to historical places, a beach, snorkeling, lunch with seafood and some local special dishes. If like starting from the hotel, a transfer is available. Travelers may arrive at the hotel before sunset time, so can relax for a while before dinner.
Golden Bridge & Ba Na Hills Day Tour
Main articles: The Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hills
The Golden Bridge (or Golden Hand Bridge) is Vietnam’s newest wonder that all instagrammers want to visit in their lifetime. It is a pedestrian passage holded gently by two huge hands, representing hands of God of the Mountain pulling a golden silk out from the back hills. To get there, visitors need to go to Ba Na Hills, 60 km northwest of Hoi An center. One of the world-record cable cars in the entertainment complex carries to the bridge. There are many things to see and do around its surroundings, such as flower gardens, a 33m-tall Buddha, an underground theme park, a French village, outdoor performances, festivals. Used to be a colonial hill station, the area features mild weather thanks to elevation of over 1,400 m and middle of a nature reserve.
Read also: Golden Bridge and Ba Na Hills Day Tour
Organized or personalized day tours that cover the visit to top attractions in Hoi An, are many to book and spend the second day. This allows travelers to optimize the time and budget, to discover the most worth-it places. The combinations often revolved around the Marble Mountains, My Son sanctuary, Golden Bridge and Ba Na Hills, Coconut village and Tra Que vegetable village. To see all options, browse our guide to Hoi An day trips – Guide to the best day tours from Hoi An.
A Cultural Show (Evening)
Main article: Hoi An’s Cultural Shows
There are a couple of art show themes in the history and culture of Hoi An and Vietnam. Any of which provides eye-catching performances from professional artists, with a great content that depict different stories and slices of life. All are to keep the audience entertained and admired. The largest show is the Hoi An Memory with a participation of 500 dancers and artists. It’s the delight of Hoi An Impression theme park. Nearer from the Old Town, the Full-moon dome of Lune Center is daily busy by viewers who seek an excellent visual, emotional and auditory experience. The Lune Production’s team first bases in Ho Chi Minh City and got many international awards before arriving in the city.
The Deck Hoi An (Rooftop Bar)
This is the highest bar in Hoi An, on the top of the Hotel Royal Hoi An. It has a bartender station with a swimming pool and many seats, each one of which overlooking countless lights below. Previously, the guests can chill out with an awesome hand while enjoying a mesmerizing sunset. Happy hours are from 5 to 7 p.m and the Sunset Vibes with DJs are held every Friday, Saturday. See other outstanding choices for nightlife in our guide to the best bars in Hoi An.
If need a guide who speaks well English and knows well the places in one or all of 3 days in Hoi An, text us in whatsapp number +84968009827.
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